Palos Park, IL – Retirement can be a time of personal discovery, a new phase of life to develop different interests and learn skills that have long been admired. Retirees may begin to improve their health and fitness earnestly, resulting in marathon participation. Some may quite literally retire to the library, plowing their way through books that have always been on their reading list. In her retirement, Jane Frazer discovered an entirely new facet of herself and built a second career around it.
In 1996, when Frazer, a resident of Peace Village in Palos Park, retired from her position at Warren Turf Nursery, she enrolled in a senior-focused oil painting class. “It was free,” she chuckled, “and I heard very good things about the teacher.” Within a few weeks, she found that not only did she enjoy the class, she was quite good at it. “Being able to paint what I really saw, make it look the way I wanted it to, that was very satisfying. I liked the teacher’s style. She didn’t make me feel that I had to do it her way. She let you paint the way you wanted to.” She joined groups such as Town and Country Artists and the Beverly Art Center. “I made a lot of friends in those groups. Painters are nice people.”
That freedom of expression lit new ambitions in Frazer, who began painting every day. “I didn’t know I had this in me. I moved into Peace Village in 1998, wanting to have my own home but not wanting to take care of a house anymore. I would go driving in my car with my supplies nearly every day, finding a spot that I wanted to capture and then painting. Sometimes, I would see a place I wanted to paint and write it down so I could go back another day with my supplies.”
Oils became her preferred medium, but she also worked in watercolor. “Oil is my favorite because it gives you time to fix things; to straighten a tree or make a bridge a little wider. Watercolor doesn’t let you change your mind too much.”
“When I approached something and it worked, that made me very happy. I liked that. Every painting made me feel good and it made me want to continue.”
Frazer found herself drawn to landscapes and avoiding portraiture. “I never wanted to do faces because I knew I wouldn’t see them or paint them the same way they saw themselves,” she laughed. Her landscapes illustrate the forest preserves and natural areas of southwest Chicagoland, especially in the fall, when the foliage burst into bright colors. “I tried never to paint the same place twice. I don’t like to repeat and I paint pretty quick.”
Her work is fluid and realistic, with dashes of bright color. Many evoke a romantic vision of lush woodlands, bright waterways or sun-dappled nostalgic farm scenes.
The result of so much passion to create is a great deal of skilled and inspired finished artwork. The walls in her warm and friendly apartment are covered with her work. “Well, I have to put them somewhere,” she grins. “My relatives are all loaded up too.” She began offering her work for sale. She exhibited at community art fairs and has work featured at the Evergreen Park Library. She designed that Library’s logo. Peace Village also began displaying her work.
A long, sun-filled hallway at the Village is a Jane Frazer museum of sorts, with over 20 oil works on display. “I love walking through the building in the evening, looking at Jane’s work,” said Bob Brody, Maintenance Supervisor at Peace Village. “You can really see how talented she is – and how her style evolved. It’s like you’re actually there with her. She’s terrific. She’s just terrific.”
While Frazer was pleased with her seemingly late-found artistic talent, her son Bruce Frazer and daughter Carol Mysicka were not surprised. “My mom was always creative and artistic, in many ways. She cooked, she sewed, she did needlework. In later years, she made jewelry and worked in silver and lapidary. When she found oil painting, though, it was the most pleasing to her,” said Bruce.
Now 98 years old, Frazer spends most of her time in other aspects of creativity, working with speed through crossword puzzles and playing cards with like-minded friends at the Village.
Retirement is the time for many to relax and explore new hobbies. For Jane Frazer, her new hobby evolved into an entirely new career, creating a legacy of creativity.