GLEN ELLYN – Life is full of activity at Windsor Park retirement community in Carol Stream, and Glen Ellyn resident Jeanie Griffin is the latest artist to be a part of it.
Pastel portraits from her personal collection are being shown at Windsor, where a reception was held for her Tuesday.
The art display is just one offering from Windsor’s Center for Lifelong Learning, a program that provides residents with various activities focused on education and the arts.
The program is run by residents such as Ruth Bamford, who knows Griffin because they are both members of First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn, and asked her to exhibit.
“I was taken with the beauty of her work,” Bamford said.
Griffin has been painting for about 40 years, although she studied elementary education and taught for a year after graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles.
After getting married and moving to Glen Ellyn, she took classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art.
“You could say I’ve always loved art, but I was brought up in a very practical family,” Griffin said. “I needed a college degree and I needed to work.”
While she has experience in many different painting media, she settled on pastel portraits about 25 years ago.
Griffin found painting with pastels easy for a mom on the go. Unlike oil painting, which requires a lot of brush cleaning and other work, pastel painting was something she could pick up and put down easily.
Griffin’s desire to create portraits stems from an interest in her subjects.
“I’m just always fascinated with people,” she said. “Everyone is unique and different.”
Griffin has been commissioned to paint many portraits, and she donates all proceeds to Young Men’s Educational Network, an organization that provides education, leadership and service opportunities to young men from the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago.
Many of her paintings portray children, as parents tend to make up a large portion of her customers, but Griffin will paint people of all ages, as well as pets.
This is her first time showing at Windsor. Griffin likes to encourage others to pursue their own artistic interests, and the residents of the retirement community have the opportunity to take classes as part of the Center for Lifelong Learning.
The activities offered by the center are based on resident interests.
“It seems more fulfilling that way, just because they’re doing exactly what they want to do,” said Director of Resident Services Hannah Detig.
Bamford, who has lived at Windsor six years, said the residents add life to the community because of their intellectual curiosity.
“It isn’t just about being busy. It’s just enjoying every day,” she said. “And also, I feel like I am probably more fed in my mind and my heart than I would be if I was by myself.”
Griffin hopes people who view her art take away a special experience.
“It makes you more aware of just life in general,” she said. “It opens your eyes to beauty around you.”
About Jeanie Griffin
Residence: Glen Ellyn
Family: Husband, Em; children, Jim and Sharon; six grandchildren
Education: Bachelors degree in elementary education from Occidental College in Los Angeles; classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and American Academy of Art
Notable: Currently is exhibiting her pastel portraits at Windsor Park in Carol Stream
Activities: Playing piano for three local adult day centers; moderator of the Elizabeth Circle women's group at First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn