Sitting in the den of her Sun Lakes home, Naomi Myers uses photographs to sketch lifelike drawings of pets. It was a skill the 84-year-old great-grandmother never knew she had, until she sat down one day three years ago and drew a picture of her daughter’s English sheepdog.

Myers took the drawing to show her friends at the Chandler-Gilbert Community College gym, where she works out three days a week. One of her friends loved it so much, she asked Myers to draw her dog.

As word of mouth grew, more people asked Myers to draw their pets. Many asked her why she didn’t charge money and do something with her talent, and Myers’ daughter, Diana Likes, pushed her gently into making a business out of it.

“Now I love to do this,” Myers said. “The thing that makes me feel so great is everyone is so touched by the pictures. Some people become emotional when they see the final pictures.”

Myers started Pet Sketches by Naomi three months ago, and has drawn about a dozen dogs and a cat using oil pencils. It takes her about six hours to finish each sketch.

“I never dreamt I was going to do this,” she said. “This has been really exciting. This calms me down and gives me a chance to do something for someone else.”

Likes said she encouraged her mom to start the business because she and others thought her artwork was so amazing.

“I’m dumbfounded that they’re so good and so reallooking,” Likes said. “It’s a natural talent that’s pretty amazing, and I think that at 84 years old that’s pretty amazing.”

Myers has always been creative. She used to crochet and crewel, which are glamorized embroidery pictures. Around Christmas, she always makes 30 batches of fancy, decorated cookies.

When her husband, Art, passed away after 64 years of marriage, Myers started taking drawing classes.

She took a semester of charcoal drawings at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and began taking several classes at the Desert Botanical Garden. She drives the 40 miles by herself to the botanical garden, and began taking the 10 five -week courses needed for the teaching certificate they offer, but has no plans to teach.

“I’m doing it just for experience, to know and to satisfy myself,” Myers said. “Now I can’t stop. Sometimes I’ll stay up until 2 in the morning to finish a drawing. It’s all gratifying.”

The art and the business are all ways Myers keeps her mind active, which helps her stay young. She said she likes to get out and do things, whether it’s dancing on a Friday night in Sun Lakes or spending time with her family. She has two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever slow down,” said Myers, who is originally from Quincy, Ill.

For information on Pet Sketches by Naomi, call (480) 802-4919 or e-mail pet sketches@hotmail.com.

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