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Drawing rings round old age

Updated: 2012-05-21 10:04
By Xu Lin in Beijing and Huang Feifei in Nanning ( China Daily)

Drawing rings round old age

Lu Yuying,81,enjoys her twilight days drawing. Xu Lin/China Daily

It's a drawing of shoppers browsing the duty-free stores at an airport in Taiwan, with a Gucci logo and some Chinese characters on the wall of the building.

The artist, Lu Yuying, 81, says she has never been to Taiwan and has no idea what Gucci is, she just draws what she sees on TV.

"I find drawing a perfect way of keeping my brain working," says Lu, part of the Zhuang ethnic group from Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

She started drawing two years ago and now has five sketchbooks, each of which has about 75 pages, drawings on both sides.

Her drawings are like children's works, simple but vivid. The themes include traditional Chinese operas, sports, animals and sceneries.

"I just draw what's in my mind, without considering whether they are pretty," Lu explains.

Most of her inspiration comes from her life and the TV programs she watches.

At first, she drew animals, including tigers and rats, because "they're easy and impressive". She also drew doctors and nurses taking care of patients, inspired by her frequent visits to the hospital.

Her only audience up to now has been her family, and particularly her 3-year-old great-grandson.

"I rarely show my works to others because I'm afraid they will think the pictures are ugly," she says.

Lu recalls her early life particularly clearly, and this too is a source of inspiration.

One of Lu's favorite pictures is a drawing of several tramcars and seven miners who are holding shovels and wearing headlamps over their helmets.

"It's me," explains Lu, who used to work as a miner in the 1960s. "The only difference is that my black hair has become gray."

Lu suffered serious heart problems in 2007 and for the following two years she frequently had to go to hospital. When her health improved in 2010, the idea of drawing suddenly struck her.

Lu and her 80-year-old husband Li Lianzhuang are typical "empty-nest" elderly, as their five sons all live in cities.

"Old people like us have nothing to do at home but look at each other," Li says.

"It's not good for her to watch TV all day and night. I'm happy that she has something to do. As for me, I read newspapers and play poker to kill time."

Lu's first work was on two discarded fans, which she repaired and drew pictures on.

She started drawing on paper in the spring of 2010, as her husband picked up leftover paper from a nearby printing plant. She makes sketchbooks by stapling the paper together.

She paints whenever she has time. At first she only used ballpoint pens, but later used colored pens.

"Drawing makes me relaxed and in a good humor, and my health condition has improved," she says.

Their sons visit them from time to time and are glad to see drawing has brought happiness to their elderly mother.

"We all support her to paint. It's not only a hobby but also sweetens her temper," says her second eldest son Li Guangde, 57, who works at an automobile company.


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