Student Highlight: Debra King, Painting

LC Hood, Communications Intern

Debra King has been a painting student at Phoenix Center of the Arts for five years. She recently painted a portrait of her class and posted it on Facebook. The image caught our attention, so we reached out to Debra to hear the story behind this fun painting. Debra shared the concept behind her idea, as well as her overall experience at Phoenix Center for the Arts and her love of painting. Click here to see the painting in detail.

What is the story behind this painting?
Our instructor, Edna Dapo, has been taking pictures of students with their paintings and drawings for years. You can always go back in time and see your fellow classmates and their drawings or paintings on her Facebook page. It’s incredible to see how some students have grown artistically throughout the years. This painting is my classmates and I at the end of one of our sessions. Edna captured us in mid-pose in our natural habitat, the classroom. I loved the picture, so I painted it at home and brought it as a surprise. It symbolizes Edna’s way of memorializing her students and their work.

What are some of the reactions you’ve received?
So far everyone loves it. Would they really say if they didn’t? Everyone is so polite and encouraging.

How long have you been painting?
I’ve been painting for about 6 ½ years. I started taking an acrylic painting class with Paradise Valley Community College. I took a few drawing and sculpture classes at the Glassell School of Art, when I was living in Houston, Texas. I think having a drawing background first helps because you learn to really “see” what you’re painting. But at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, Edna guides students so well that they don’t necessarily need anything other than desire.

What are the joys you find in painting?
The joy of painting is, of course, the relaxation it brings as you paint and the sense of accomplishment you get when you finish a painting you love. I love painting landscapes. I love painting people. I love Van Gogh.

How did you find out about classes at the center?
When Paradise Valley Community College stopped offering recreational painting classes, I did an online search and found the Phoenix Center of the Arts offering oil and acrylic classes. What caught my eye was that you didn’t have to bring anything but a canvas. Who offers that these days?! You just show up and paint. Good friends, art, music and sometimes some snacks, what could be better?!

What was the first class and the experience you had?
In Edna’s first class, students get a brief drawing lesson, a mental plan for the next few classes and a tour of the classroom. I couldn’t wait to start painting. I was intimidated by the returning students – they were doing incredible things.

What keeps you coming back to the center?
I love the people, the artistic atmosphere and the relaxation it brings. I love watching other students create their own masterpieces. Everyone’s style and their choice of subjects are so different. I also love watching new students who are just discovering their hidden talents.