Anita Sandefur has always had a passion for drawing.
Sandefur, 75, says she was the kind of student who was more comfortable in art class than math class. When she actually had to do math and other subjects, she would often doodle and draw instead.
“I’ve been drawing since the day I was born,” she said. “My mother used to say I think I was born with a pencil in my hand.”
As a kid, she said her mother was worried because she didn’t want to play with the other kids but would rather stay inside and draw.
“She had to chase me out to go do things,” she said. “I continued to do that throughout my childhood and high school.”
Sandefur said she never stuck to drawing just one thing in particular. She wanted to draw everything.
“Anything that came to mind — if I saw it I wanted to put it on paper,” she said.
The childhood passion has carried on to her adult life. The Eureka resident draws daily and completes multiple projects a week.
“I’m the type that is totally right-brained,” she said. “I can’t really balance a checkbook too well, but I can put something on paper.”
The drawing continued through school, but came to a stop somewhat when she got married to her husband, Robert. The two have been married for 56 years and have three kids.
When the kids were young, Sandefur said she didn’t really have much time for drawing. Life was busy. When everyone got a little older, she dusted off her art tools.
Sandefur said after her first, and only, grandchild was born, she was the primary babysitter for three years. She was retired from her work as a real estate agent and other jobs and had time to spend with her granddaughter, Bre.
After three years, she suddenly no longer had to take care of her granddaughter and was faced with a lot of free time. This was about 20 years ago, and she decided to try art again.
“When you’re born with it, it’s something you don’t forget.”
Sandefur is a self-taught artist. She primarily works with pens and colored pencils, but of course they aren’t run-of-the-mill pens and pencils. She said she buys special instruments in order to make sure her work is quality.
She said her work is mostly considered photo realism, but she dabbles in other areas, too. She is fond of her circle drawings.
Sandefur said she is constantly working. There’s not a day that goes by where she’s not drawing on something. She said she usually finishes two to four pieces a week.
“I’m probably faster than I should be because I end up with more artwork than frames,” she said. “I’m always having to buy frames. You run out of money after a while.”
Her art skills have earned her attention and accolades. She is a member of the The Mid-Missouri Fine Arts Society (MMFAS) and has recently been honored for first place in a contest.
She has sold numerous pieces and been on display at many places, including the Missouri State Fair.
“I never thought I’d get in (to the Fair), but I did,” she said.
One time she had art on display at a Borders bookstore. When she came back to pick up the pieces that hadn’t sold, she noticed one piece was missing. There was no record of it being sold so she assumed someone stole it.
“I don’t know how — they put sensors inside,” she said. “It must have been someone who worked there so they knew the sensor was in there. I thought, ‘Well that’s kind of flattering,’ but I’d rather have gotten something for it. Luckily it wasn’t something I was that attached to. If they wanted it that bad, have at it.”
The passion for art brings her out to the Washington Senior Center weekly to meet and draw with other like-minded artists. Sandefur and her husband trek out to Washington for socializing and art with her friends.
“They have a nice group of ladies here that draw,” she said. “I’ve been in several art groups in the past ... and when we moved out to Eureka, there really wasn’t anyone out there that was close enough so I found out about these ladies.”
The senior center helps Sandefur get out and spend time with people she enjoys.
“It’s just nice being with a group of people that share the same interest you do,” she said. “Everybody does something a little bit different — the work is very nice. It’s just a nice place. When you’re old and retired and want to do something with people, this is where you come.”