■ By Matt McPherson / Columnist
Willa Cather once said “A child’s attitude toward everything is an artist’s attitude.” This attitude is embodied the first Saturday of every month in Downtown Hemet at The Hemet Valley Art Association. Local artists Constance Peters and Tracy Anderson take turns providing a studio and instruction for children of all ages at The Art Jam.
Last month a sizable group of youth gathered under the direction of Tracy Anderson to paint Van Gogh’s “Field of Poppies.” The kids were each given an apron, a palette of different colored paints, a collection of different sized brushes, along with a cup of water and sponges to stay clean and make corrections throughout the process. The young artists learned how to mix primary colors to achieve just the right tones to accent their masterpieces. A multitude of styles were exhibited – each one unique and beautiful.
Anderson did an amazing job walking the children through the many stages of the painting, stopping along the way to ensure everybody was content with their progress. One at a time the students displayed their finished work and proudly signed their paintings. As the class came to an end, they cleaned their brushes and hung up their aprons and showed off their finished works of art.
Tracy Anderson and Constance Peterson have been in the Art Association for about 10 years and at one point had four teachers rotating the popular classes. They have led the instruction of the Art Jam classes for the last two years.
“The Hemet Valley Art Association has tried a variety of classes for children over the years. The ‘Kids’ Art Jam’ started about seven years ago, having classes once a month. It is one of HVAA goals to encourage youth to experience a variety of art media and to help them enjoy and appreciate art of many types,” said Peterson “In the class, we teach them a variety of art techniques: drawing, painting, collage, mixed media, 3-D. They get to try realistic styles as well as abstract ones. We try to teach some art techniques and encourage each child to work at his or her own level of expertise. The finished project is fun to see, but the process of creating art is good for the soul and raises one’s spirits.”
Peterson is no stranger to art education for children. Before she retired, she taught in the Hemet Unified School District for 37 years. During most of the time she taught as a regular elementary teacher. For nine years, she taught art as a single subject from grades 1 through 6 and also from grades 6 through 8. She displays and sells her photography and paintings at the gallery. Currently, she is the director of the program and also The Hemet Valley Art Association President.
Anderson has a bachelor’s degree from the Art Institute of California. She is the gallery director, a board member, and the editor of the gallery’s newsletter. She’s been a member of the Hemet Valley Art Association for 10 years and has taught Art Jam since its inception. All instructors volunteer their time.
“Seeing just one child proud of his/her art makes this program completely worth it to me,” said Anderson.
Art Jam is held on the first Saturday of the month from 10-11:30 a.m. Contact Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org and Peterson at Artslady252@verizon.net for more information.