Boyd Shaffer is a modern day Renaissance man. For years he's taught art classes of all sorts, photography, taxidermy, mushroom identification, edible and nonedible plants, outdoor survival in summer and winter.
Boyd makes and paints sets for local theatrical productions and the Sunday Showcase. He did the same thing for Walt Disney, merging painted canvas sets with the Living Desert.
He's a student, always, learning about everything he comes in contact with, from insects to owls, from lasers to drawing at the Sorbonne. Lately, Boyd has been using computers for graphics and drawing and ...
It is a typical thing for Boyd Shaffer to use a computer to figure out how to draw a duck's feather with the computer "mouse" when he could draw, freehand, anatomically correct feathers from two dozen breeds of duck from memory. The process is as important as the product to Boyd.
That's his teaching style, too. There's really no way to get an accurate count of the thousands of students who have taken Boyd's classes in communities all over the Peninsula. But each of them has taken away a bit of Boyd's style, his way of looking at a process—whether it is how to draw a spruce tree or how to decide if a mushroom is edible.
For a while, Boyd used to bring his pet great horned owl to class with him. It perched on Boyd's gauntleted hand, stretching enormous wings almost on command. It was a great way to turn a taxidermy class from an exercise in stiff, dead feathers to a process of attempting to capture the grace and strength of a living presence.
Some time ago, Boyd gave up dealing with the University Art Department administration. "I don't like it," he said. "They want me to be something I'm not. I don't have time for it. I've got things to do, classes to teach.
"Somebody else can deal with them. Oh, they send me messages, write me letters. I just give them to Dave Forbes. He's the Division Chairman. Let him deal with it. I've got classes to teach. And besides, I just got a memory upgrade on my computer. Now I can get one of those new McPencils or McTablet or Mc-what-ever they're called."
Boyd's classes are overflowing. Many of his students repeat classes over and over. They don't care if they receive college credits—they want to learn what Boyd has to teach.