Vanessa Boushe admires her sons Chris, right and Ronnie Boushe’s art work on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 at the San Juan Center for Independence in
Vanessa Boushe admires her sons Chris, right and Ronnie Boushe's art work on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 at the San Juan Center for Independence in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — Laughter, smiles and colorful canvases filled a room at the San Juan Center for Independence on Saturday as people of all ages and varying abilities gathered around tables for an art class for people with disabilities.

The class, which was funded by Northwest New Mexico Art Council, was taught by Karen Ellsbury of Studio 116 with the help of volunteers and members of Arc, an organization that provides services to people with disabilities.

The art will be displayed at the Arc Thrift Store at 200 W. Broadway in Farmington during the Fall Art Walk in October.

Diana Lang, the president of Arc's board, said she experienced one of the most powerful moments she's seen at the art classes on Saturday.

Eddie Begay entered the room not feeling well. Being non-verbal, Begay could only communicate his dislike of the situation by screaming loudly.

Lang tried to bond with Begay and then she noticed the Denver Broncos logo on the back of his wheelchair. She had an artist draw the logo for him, and his attitude began to improve.

The farther into the painting that Begay and his helper got, the more he smiled until finally he began to laugh.

"It just shows that art encourages everyone's spirits," Lang said.

Volunteers helped the students paint and brought supplies to them when they needed supplies.

Angel Velasquez, a Public Service Company of New Mexico employee, was given the day off to volunteer at the art class. Because he volunteered, PNM donated money to the Arc.

"I love helping, I love painting stuff and I love art," Velasquez said.

Upcoming art classes for people with disabilities

What: Art class taught by Karen Ellsbury

When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday

Where: San Juan Center for Independence, 1204 San Juan Blvd. in Farmington

Cost: Free

More info: Register: 505-801-5889

What: Arc art class

When: 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 14

Where: San Juan Center for Independence, 1204 San Juan Blvd. in Farmington

Cost: Free

More info: Call 505-326-6303

He said his favorite part of the day was watching the students finish their masterpieces and seeing the expressions on their faces.

The featured parts of many of these masterpieces were the sayings carefully pasted onto the canvases.

The Arc provided scrabble pieces from its thrift store to help form the words and old keyboards from a local school were taken apart to add variety.

The students were given choices of short sayings to put on their paintings.

Miranda Velasquez attended the class with her two nephews and her mother, Eleanor Velasquez, who assisted the three of them.

She painted a checkerboard with her name written in the squares. In other squares, she used the keyboard letters to create her family motto: "Love is who I am."

Eleanor Velasquez said she was proud of her daughter, who picked out all her own colors and didn't spill the water.

"She had a very steady hand today," Eleanor Velasquez said.

While many of the students used the provided sayings in their art, Miranda Velasquez was one of the few who chose her own.

Melody Jennings also came with her own saying picked out and a design in mind to go with it.

Jennings carefully painted a series of colorful smiley faces on her canvas. She says she likes art because "it lets me express my feelings."

For her saying, she chose "Smile, it increases your enthusiasm."

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.