Sequim retiree teaching painting classes at senior center

Boyd Shaffer has an ability to make people laugh, cry and gasp in awe accordingly with the stories of his past.

From being shot in the line of duty during World War II and later training animals for Walt Disney, to teaching at the University of Alaska for 43 years and having a state nature trail named after him, Shaffer has led, by no means, an ordinary life.

Although he is much older now and hard of hearing, the photographs featuring Shaffer as a young adult that he proudly shows off while thumbing through an old album portray him as he once was: youthful, strong, energetic, hardworking and passionate about nature. Age has changed his body but not his outlook on life or desire to learn and teach others.

Shaffer will share some of the stories from his life with students during a series of "Painting for Pleasure" art classes at the Sequim Senior Activity Center 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays.

Shaffer said he enjoys teaching at the center but that it's different from what he's used to doing at the university level.

"I'm used to working with young people striving for a future (in art)," he said.

"These are older people who just want to have fun."

Acrylic is, according to Shaffer, one of the easiest mediums to teach beginners.

"Oil is the easiest," Shaffer said.

"If you make a mistake you can just wipe it clean.

"Acrylic dries fast and, if you make a mistake, you can just paint over it.

"Watercolor is another story," he said.

"You have a white canvas but no white paint so you can't afford to make any mistakes or you ruin the whole painting."

The focus of the class is on technique and creating three-dimensional art using glazes.

"I teach students one step at a time," Shaffer said. He emphasizes perspective and vanishing points, "taking them from a simple circle to a portrait."

In the comfort of his home, Shaffer specializes in oil, acrylic and computer painting. Using technology - a Macintosh computer, a program called "Color It!" and a coloring tablet hooked up to the machine using a USB cable - Shaffer paints images from his imagination.

"It's always out of my head, my mind's eye," Shaffer said.

"If I can look at it, I can photograph it."

He spends hours on details, giving paintings an almost 3-D appearance where wildlife comes to life and jumps off the page.

The walls at the Shaffer residence are decorated with dozens of original paintings that Shaffer's wife, Susan Shaffer, casually refers to as her "personal collection."

One painting takes up almost an entire wall. Others are smaller and feature life-size hummingbirds, parakeets and owls.

Shaffer started painting as a young boy. He has paintings dating back to when he was 6 years old.

As a soldier in the U.S. Army, Shaffer illustrated greeting cards and envelopes for fellow soldiers to send home to their loved ones.

After he was wounded by shrapnel in France during the Battle of the Bulge, GI Bill benefits allowed Shaffer to study art in France.

From there, he went to work at Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah - an aviary he frequented as a young child and teenager, eventually earning his Master Falconer license - and later for Walt Disney, where he trained animals for the True-Life Adventures series.

"Walt Disney was an amazing boss to work for," Shaffer said.

"He actually paid me for 'constructive thinking' at home after hours."

When he was almost 40, Shaffer moved to Alaska and taught biology and art at the University of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula Campus in Anchorage. It was in Alaska that he met and fell in love with his wife.

After retirement, the couple moved to Belize in Central America for five years, Seattle for one year and settled in Sequim six months ago.

To view examples of Shaffer's work, go online to

Ashley Miller can be reached at

Painting for pleasure

Boyd Shaffer, artist and naturalist, teaches acrylic painting at the Sequim Senior Activity Center from 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays.

An activity fee of $6 per session is collected to benefit the center.

Shaffer is a retired art and biology teacher from the University of Alaska. He moved to Sequim about six months ago with his wife, Susan Shaffer.

For more information, call the senior center at 683-6806.

Pass the mic

Anyone who likes to sing is invited to perform a song suitable for all family members at the finals for the fourth annual Pass The Mic vocal talent competition.

The event will start at 7 p.m. Feb. 20

at King's Way Foursquare Church,

1023 Kitchen-Dick Road, Sequim.

The deadline to sign up for the

event is Feb. 5.

The competition is open to all ages - individuals, duets and trios.

A $5 entry fee is payable when filling out the application to participate.

Prizes will be awarded to ages 13 and older and ages 12 and younger.

A rehearsal will be held 5-8 p.m. Feb. 5.

The first stage of competition will be

7 p.m. Feb. 6 and semi-finals will be

held at 7 p.m. Feb. 13.

Ages 13 and older will compete for $100 third prize, $200 second prize and $500 first prize.

Ages 12 and younger will vie for

$50 third prize, $100 second prize

and $200 first prize.

Admission is a can of food or donation for Children of the Nations to help and assist in the building of a baking school

in Barahona, Dominican Republic,

for the first day of the competition

and the semi-finals.

Admission will cost $5 each for the finals.

Prize and auction sponsors are needed

for the live and silent auctions.

Information is available at

683-8020 or 808-1260.

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