The Healing Arts
GCC drawing class can lead to Fine Arts degree
At first, Bits Siller only wanted to fill her time once she retired — then tragedy struck and she needed to find solace.
She turned to Gila Community College (GCC) teacher Jaqui Jeffrey’s art classes to immerse herself in the healing powers of art.
“I find them therapeutic,” said Siller, still grieving after the loss of her daughter.
Jeffrey teaches Fundamentals of Design, Color and Design, Drawing, Acrylics, Figure drawing, and Sculpture. All her classes are designed to move the serious student toward an associate’s degree in art — or to learn how to create satisfying drawings.
Siller started by taking Jeffrey’s Fundamentals of Design. She learned the rules and regulations of how to create an interesting piece, from the rule of thirds to positioning objects to keep the viewer focused on the center of interest.
As she created drawings, she started to heal.
“I would sit and cry and feel better,” she said of drawing pictures that expressed her grief. In her house, she has a couple of pieces she has framed that continue to bring her comfort.
Now, she says, she takes classes to learn how to better create art.
In her drawing class, Jeffrey exposes students to the different tools they have available to make drawings.
Some days in her drawing class she focuses on charcoal, others, pencil or ink.
Today, a student has asked her to introduce the class to working with colored pencils.
Jeffrey sat surrounded by students carefully following the directions on how to draw and color an apple from an instruction book one of her students brought to class.
“What’s next, Ted?” asks Jeffrey as her apple sits looking finished down to the complexity of colors.
“We’re going to color the stem,” said Ted Harmon, a retired engineer. He used to work as a project manager for Ford motors. Taking charge of the apple-drawing project synchronizes perfectly with his past experience.
“Color the stem with indigo blue, Tuscan red, orange, apple green, light violet and top it off with cream,” said Harmon.
“Is this neurotic or what?” asks Jeffrey referring to the complexity of the instructions, but actually, she knows quite a bit about psychology.
She has a master’s degree in the subject. In fact, she started her career at GCC teaching the psychology class. Yet, because her undergraduate degree is art education, the dean quickly moved her into teaching those classes.
Her classes have made a difference to Siller. She admits Jeffrey helped her through her tough time. The two have a comfortable rapport, as does the whole class with Jeffrey.
Her drawing class gathers around, as she draws the apple, soaking up what she has to teach of the techniques and tools of the craft.
“See how rubbing the whole picture gives this apple a sheen?” asks Jeffrey.
“It works!” the students respond.
Even having watched it take shape, they can scarcely believe the layers of colored pencil could give such a realistic feel to the apple.
Besides teaching her students how to enhance their art, Jeffrey collaborated with Dean Pamela Butterfield to create the associate’s degree in fine arts. In May, the first student to complete the new program will graduate with a degree in Fine Arts.
Showcasing gifts of Payson students
The annual district-wide Gifted and Talented Showcase displayed the talents of Payson’s students as the delectable scent of green chili burros wafted through the air.
From science and history projects to art, music and performance, the students wowed parents, teachers and administrators on Thursday, April 26 in the Rim Country Middle School cafeteria.
Parents from the parent-teacher organization PAAL (Payson Association for Advanced Learners) offered a green chili burro, or vegetarian burrito dinner as a fund-raiser for their trip to New York in March 2013. The group raised $700 for travel costs.
Principals Will Dunman and Yvette Harpe, Kathe Ketchem and Anna Van Zile and Julia Randall Elementary Principal Rob Varner dropped by to revel in the achievements of their children.
Outgoing superintendent Casey O’Brien, incoming superintendent Ron Hitchcock and school board members Barbara Underwood and Matt Van Camp wandered the room speaking with parents and children. At a performance area set up in one corner, violin, horn and various other musicians played. Tyler Aguirre and Tyler McMinimy, state champions from the Mock Trial club, re-enacted their final award-winning arguments from the state competition to laughs from the audience.
The students from Academic Decathlon presented what they did over the year.
“The kids were excited to show off their work and were so proud to hear their parents talk about how well they did and how impressed that they were,” said event organizer Marlene Armstrong. For the past few years, she and RCMS language arts/social studies teacher Kristi Kisler have put together the showcase.