Palestine
The Arts

Um Sameer: 87 Years are Still Young Enough for Drawing

Even a trembling hand can draw memories and hopes

87 years of talent.

They say that growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional. Um Sameer, a talented 87 years old woman,  lives in an old house in the center of Arrabeh, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, Palestine. This phenomenal woman chose to stay young and fill her free time by creating art!

Her trembling hands hold wooden and water colors to draw what she sees and bring her memories alive. Over six years, she managed to draw more than 400 paintings. Every painting has its own story. She discovered her talent when she imagined a dog was hunting his prey. she asked one of her grandchildren to buy her pens, colors and a notebook and started drawing.

“The beginning was funny but beautiful,” she said.

drawing
A closeup picture of Um Sameer drawing. Photo by Qais Abu Samra

Um Sameer values her paintings and keeps them for her. She refuses to give any of her paintings to anyone. Um Sameer said that she doesn’t hesitate to draw a painting if someone asks, but she doesn’t give away any of her personal paintings. Her daughter emphasized that all of her mother’s paintings are very simple, yet each one has its own story to tell. She added that her mother found herself in drawing. Also, she has never been this happy before.

 

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Um Sameer drawing a simple painting. Photo By Qais Abu Samra

Whenever she sees a picture in the street, she redraws that picture on her notebook.  She drew the former president, Yasir Arafat, when she saw him in her dream and he asked her to draw him. Her granddaughter asked her once to draw her a painting that represents combating violence against women.

Through drawing, she keeps her spirit alive and she stays young. She  cherishes how people call her “Um Sameer, the Artist.” Um Sameer might be old in age but she’s definitely young on the inside.  She’s 87 years Young. 

 

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