With a summer’s teaching experience behind them, artists Roxanne and Suzy Almblade are both excited for the fall semester at Eastern Arizona College’s Payson campus.
That’s where the twin sisters got their first experience as instructors this summer, teaching oil and acrylic (Roxanne) and watercolor (Suzy) painting, and it’s where they’ll be leading those classes again this fall.
“I always knew I wanted to be an artist, and in 2019 I decided to do it professionally,” said Roxanne, who earned an associate degree in art from Scottsdale Community College. “I was an illustrator for the most part, but I also painted off and on. When I moved to Payson in 2019, I decided to go full on just painting. I’ve been getting commissions and putting art up in various locations; I’m in two galleries now.”
Suzy holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Arizona and learned watercolor painting in Italy, where she discovered her love for that medium and hasn’t looked back.
“That was 10 years ago, and I’ve been specializing in watercolor for this past decade. I’m doing it now as a full-time career.” She said she has been doing private lessons for some time. “Most of my learning was self-taught and has been cumulative over the past 10 years, doing lots of research and experimentation,” Suzy added. “I’m excited to teach everyone what I have learned, so they don’t have to take so long to get to the point where I am.”
The college asked Roxanne to fill in for another instructor who had left and found the classroom rewarding.
“I didn’t realize just how much I would enjoy being a teacher,” she said. “It’s cool to finally be able to teach everything that I’ve learned over the years. I’ve always said that artists inspire artists, so I like to encourage my students. I can’t wait to see what I can do with a longer semester and see how much my students can improve with five months instead of just two. I’m having a lot of fun.”
Artists inspire artists, and that includes the Almblade sisters. “I guess that was one of the beginnings of my career; just competing against my sister, in an encouraging fashion, to be a better artist,” Roxanne said. “She would learn one thing and then I would learn something. We’d teach other what we learned, and I guess we improved a lot faster than most kids our age because of that.”
Students who sign up for Suzy’s beginning watercolor class will learn such fundamentals of watercolor as working in transparent layers, wet on wet technique and dry brushing, but will also look into different paints. She said she would also cover some of watercolor’s past and current masters, like American painter John Singer Sargent and Russian painter Sergei Temerev.
“Above all, I want this to be a very fun course,” she added. “I want people to enjoy watercolor. It’s going to be a class where people can just relax and have fun with it, not something they have to stress over.”
In her combined beginning oil and beginning acrylic course, Roxanne aims to teach the fundamentals of painting — “things like mixing paint, primary versus secondary colors, how to layer paint; all the basic things you would want to know as a beginning artist, from supplies all the way down to taking care of brushes.”
Both classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning watercolor from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and beginning oil/acrylic from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Students are asked to provide their own supplies.
The fall semester begins Aug. 23. EAC offers a tuition waiver for students 55 and over.