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Having designs on GHP
Belsma, Jackson to study visual arts at summer program
joey belsma 1
South Effingham High School rising senior Joey Belsma is headed to the annual Governor's Honors Program. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Two Effingham County students will attend the prestigious Governor’s Honors Program this summer.

Joey Belsma, a rising senior at South Effingham High School, and Thomas Jackson, a rising senior at Effingham County High School, have been selected to participate in the visual arts program. GHP is a program for exceptional students to delve into an interest for four weeks during the summer, working in a college setting at Valdosta State University. Belmsa and Jackson will spend their mornings in their major coursework and afternoons in courses for other areas of studies. Their nights will be filled with other activities, such as concerts and seminars.

The process to be accepted into GHP is demanding. The student first has to get recommended in a specific field by a teacher and then write a couple of essays on why they want to go to GHP. The final step is the interview, which for visual arts kids such as Belsma and Jackson means driving to Atlanta one Saturday and displaying a dozen pieces of their art for an evaluator. Belsma was nominated last year also, but ended up not making it.

“Last year, I was nervous but this year I wasn’t as nervous,” Belsma said. “I knew if I go into with a confidence, it’ll be better than being nervous through the whole thing.”

This was Jackson’s first time through the process.

Both artists have different styles and mediums, but are connected by their passion for art.

“Over the years I found out that colored pencil is my medium. I know how to manipulate it in every possible way. But I’m moving on to different aspects and mediums now so I can broaden my horizons,” Belsma said.

Belsma’s focus is on hyper-realistic drawings. Jackson, on the other hand, uses oil pastels.

“They’re messy, but still make art look nice,” he said.

Jackson has been inspired by the surrealist movement, but likes to look at all forms of art for inspiration. Jackson first started getting into art when he was a child and his dad would take him to museums to look at artwork, which Jackson has continued to do to seek inspiration.

Both students are very excited about the idea of working with other mediums during their time at GHP.

“I want to get better at watercolor especially,” Jackson said. “Because I’ve never really understood how watercolor works, but I always think it’s really beautiful when you see watercolor paintings.”

Belsma said: “I’m drawing and painting based. I don’t do any digital arts. That’s what I’m going there for, to learn more about it.”

After high school, Belsma is looking into furthering her art career at an art college. She’s been looking into art schools all over the country, including one in Rhode Island and SCAD. Jackson wants to pursue his other interests and attend Georgia Tech for engineering.

GHP starts June 19 and ends July 16. One thing that Belsma is not excited for is the Valdosta heat.

“I think that’s the most terrifying aspect, because I know it’s going to be really hot and I’m a winter person. I’ll wear lots of sunscreen,” she said.

Despite the heat, Belsma and Jackson look forward to their summer in Valdosta.

 “It’s a little intimidating because it’s four weeks away from home, but it’s pretty exciting,” Jackson said.