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NATURE WAS BEST TEACHER FOR LANDSCAPE ARTIST

Valoy Eaton was born March 29, 1938, in Vernal. His father ran an auto repair shop and played the guitar. His mother played the piano, so both parents toured with a country-western group when Eaton was young.

The family subsequently moved to Bingham, where Eaton's father was employed at Kennecott Copper Mines during the late years of the Depression. When Valoy was 5 years old, the Eatons moved back to Vernal. While attending high school in Vernal, he played center and forward for the all-state basketball team.Eaton graduated from high school in 1956. He married his high-school sweetheart, Ellie King.

In 1956 BYU offered Eaton a four-year basketball scholarship. While playing ball, he majored in drawing and painting, working exclusively in watercolor (no oils), and received his bachelor of arts degree in 1960.

Eaton became a full-time teacher - teaching for two years at Brockbank Junior High School and eight years at Cyprus High School, both in Magna. While teaching art, he coached basketball, golf and tennis.

He then decided to focus on art and, for training, began work toward a master's degree. He commuted to BYU while retaining his teaching position at Magna. His thesis offered "A Comparative Analysis of Transparent Watercolor and Acrylic."

As he reflected the impact of his college education, he said, "I believe that all good artists are self-taught. I have learned more from art museums - and from observing nature - than from any teacher."

Upon completing his master of arts degree in 1971, Eaton and his family moved to Midway, where he soon felt part of the surroundings. Wasatch County landscape would be the inspiration for much of his art for 20 years.

Six years ago the Eatons moved back to Vernal. Although the scenery there isn't comparable to Heber Valley, it has some advantages.

"It's not a bad place for an artist," Eaton said. "There's lots of light and space, the sun shines brighter and there are interesting people with choice ranches dotted with cottonwood trees."

Even so, the artist finds himself taking two- to three-day painting trips to the Heber Valley and other favorite locations.

Over the years, Eaton has successfully balanced his love for art with his love for family and church - all without a day planner. "He's a very organized person," his wife confided.

The Eatons have five children: Kristeen, 31; Alan, 29; David, 27; Dale, 23; and Nate, 18; and nine grandchildren.

The boys, of course, were basketball players. "I spent lots of hours in the gym playing basketball with the boys - as well as golfing and fishing." Their only daughter, Kristeen, wasn't a serious contender on the basketball court, but proved to be excellent at fishing.