Bringing New Color into a Second Career
Years ago, if it was mentioned that someone was retired, one likely envisioned them enjoying endless rounds of golf somewhere down in Florida or Arizona, grabbing early-bird dinners, and getting home in time to watch Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy. Perhaps some time whiling away the hours in a rocking chair on a porch figured into the equation as well.
Now, however, retirement is often a very different picture, with seniors living vibrant, active lives filled with various activities that are not only filling their newfound spare time, but also fulfilling to their mental and physical well being on top of it. In many cases, these new hobbies often evolve into something of a second career, albeit one that is often far more enjoyable than the workaday hours previously being spent in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
Lavender caught up with one such retiree, Jayne Schaecher, and spoke to her about how she’s turned her artistic interests into a way of bringing joy to both herself and to others.
What was your career before you retired?
I was employed at the State of Minnesota Department of Health as a Training Specialist. I was responsible for training employees of MDH technical computer applications such as Microsoft Word, SharePoint, Excel and Skype for Business or Teams. When a new system was implemented, I was in charge of the training of that new system. I created SharePoint training that could be used for all State Employees. In addition to that, I had the opportunity to work in the Agency Projects and Planning unit to assist with agency initiatives. I retired in February of 2020, right before Covid-19 became an issue in Minnesota.
Have you always had an interest in art and painting?
I have always enjoyed art and photography. I took up photography in high school and my art teacher said I should really think about being an art major in college. That was many moons ago, and I actually went to Nursing School. It’s funny where your interests take you! I went from Nursing School to Law Enforcement Crime Scene Processing and Forensics, to Insurance Claims to Insurance Training, and finally to my last position at the Department of Health.
What made you decide to pick up the brush and basically take your hobby into almost a second career?
I always wanted to draw but never ever lifted a pencil to sketch. Never ever! I received a Community Education brochure in the mail and explored the courses that were listed. I saw that they had a beginning drawing class that lasted six weeks and I signed up. They taught the basics of drawing. There was a beginning watercolor painting class that came up in the next session; I also signed up for that. That was the first time I picked up a paintbrush, April of 2019. From there, I just couldn’t get enough! I sketched whenever I had time—on the way to work on the train, during lunch, in the evenings. I followed YouTube and found a style that worked for me. I also bought several books to learn techniques. I saw that a few people on Etsy were selling Home Portraits, so I thought to myself, “I can do that!” And I did. I joined Quorum the GLBQT Chamber of Commerce for the Twin Cities and started showing my wares. From there, the sky was the limit. I was contacted by many people in our community asking for Home Portraits.
What is your favorite medium? I know you do a lot in watercolor, but do you also work in acrylics, oils or charcoal?
My favorite medium is watercolor. I have not had the opportunity to try other mediums. The demand for watercolor is keeping me busy!
How did you start doing the lovely pieces of people’s homes for them as realtors’ gifts to clients? It’s just such a wonderful idea, to be able to present a buyer or seller with a painting of either the home they’re about to make their own, or the home in which they’ve spent so many happy years.
I noticed while watching YouTube videos that I admired artists who drew and painted architectural drawings, so I was pulled in that direction. I then pulled up some homes that were listed and practiced drawing and painting those. I then contacted a few realtors to see if they might be interested in giving these to clients. As I posted these on Facebook, I was contacted by more and more realtors. I promoted my work at Quorum functions and developed several realtors as clients. The realtors give me typically three weeks’ notice of a closing. Their clients are so thrilled to have a painting of their home.
You’ve retired, but is your wife Heidi still working, or is she retired as well? Has it encouraged you both to “find stuff to do” to occupy your time individually, or do you try to find projects that you can do together?
Heidi also retired. We have our own interests but we love doing things together. We are just as busy as ever without the pressures of work. We both are on the leadership team for Gay for Good Twin Cities. We also love to entertain—so between volunteering, entertaining and painting, we couldn’t be happier during retirement!