Your Corner: Two-Handed Artist Draws Real Life Smiles

A motorcycle crash Spencer Willis forced an artist to learn a new skill, and now, he is using that skill to bring smiles to seniors

Spencer Willis is an artist with an unusual talent -- he can draw equally well with both hands. It’s not a gimmick. At one point in his life it was a necessity.

"My memory was erased," Willis said of the night several years ago when he left a party riding on the back of his motorcycle while a friend drove it more than 90 miles an hour.

"He drove into a parked car," said Willis. "I got thrown about 110 feet on my face."

Willis would spend two months in a coma. He awoke with no memory of what happened and unable to move the right side of his body, including his right hand -- the hand he uses for drawing.

As a lifelong artist, Willis would not let the fact that he could no longer hold a pen deter him.

"I was just so compelled to do art again. My right side wasn’t working, so I was like heck, I’ll do it with my left side," he said.

Willis retaught himself how to draw, this time with his left hand.

When he eventually regained control of his entire body, he decided to try drawing with both hands at the same time.

"I felt this shift in my brain," he said.

The shift didn't just change his drawing, it changed his thinking as well.

"I just kept telling myself, Spencer, be better than you were; be better than you were," Willis said. "I wanted to improve the world through art."

Willis started a non-profit called "Draw for Smiles." Now, roughly once a week, he visits senior living facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs, and hospitals, drawing caricatures for donations.

He says his real payment is conversation.

"My favorite part about it is just talking with people, getting to know them, getting to know their lives," Willis said.

NBC 7 tagged along with Willis one day to the Canyon Villas retirement home where Willis listened to residents talk about their families, their childhoods, and then incorporate those stories into caricatures.

"I’ve had people cry," Willis said. "They don’t really get that one-on-one but when you give it to them, it’s like, wow, giving a pot of gold. They love it."

Spencer Willis has been a professional artist for years but it wasn’t until he came out of that coma he truly found his dream job.

"It’s so fulfilling. I found a way to spread my art, and make others happy too."

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