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An artist’s rebirth

Brooksby resident nurtures a long-held passion for painting

Created date

June 28th, 2016
Brooksby artist Jan Stoffregen enjoys painting boats and water, finding inspiration along the New England coastline.

Brooksby artist Jan Stoffregen enjoys painting boats and water, finding inspiration along the New England coastline.

Art has always been a love of mine,” says Jan Stoffregen. “Now I have the freedom and time to pursue it.”

Jan’s resurgence as an artist coincided with her move to Brooksby Village, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass. Six years ago, Jan sold her home in Stoneham and traded single family living for “a better life” at Brooksby.

“For many years, I was busy raising my family and working,” says Jan. “Now I fill a good part of my days painting. It’s satisfying to be able to follow your passion.”

Jan developed her talent as an artist at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where she majored in fashion illustration. 

“I worked for a few years before I got married, and then we had our three children,” says Jan. “When our oldest was 19, I went to work for the Winchester Star newspaper as a fashion illustrator.”

Jan’s busy schedule didn’t leave much room for personal artistic pursuits.

“I didn’t really start painting for myself until shortly before I moved to Brooksby,” she says. “When I was taking a tour of the community, I was so happy to see the arts and crafts studio.”

Community of artists

Brooksby is home to two artists’ groups. One group meets in the Town Centre arts and crafts studio. The other group, led by Jan, meets in the arts and crafts studio in the McIntosh Clubhouse.

The McIntosh artists meet on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

“We’re up to 17 members now,” says Jan. “On Saturdays, we take some time to show each other our paintings and offer critique and encouragement,” says Jan. “We all get along very well and like to help each other where we can.”

The McIntosh artists’ group is comprised of artists with various backgrounds. Some have been painting for a long time, while others are embracing art as a new hobby.

“It’s wonderful to be surrounded by other artists,” says Jan. “It inspires me to be more productive.”

Inspiration comes from within

Jan’s paintings range from landscapes to abstract.

“I have to have a passion or a feeling for what I want to paint,” says Jan. “It comes from within. Then I get my equipment and go to it.”

Although she prefers to paint with oils, Jan has also dabbled in watercolors.

“With watercolors, you begin with light colors and build to dark colors,” says Jan. “It’s the opposite with oils. You start dark and build to light.”

On average, it takes Jan three to four weeks to complete a painting. 

“I don’t really look at a painting in terms of time,” she says. “I work on a painting until I’m satisfied.”

Jan has given most of her artwork to family members, including her three children, seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

“It’s nice because the paintings are hanging up in their homes, and I can appreciate them when I go to visit,” says Jan.

Pursuing her passion

Since moving to Brooksby, Jan says the dedicated studio space is a key ingredient in her proclivity to paint. Artists are able to store their supplies in cabinets in the arts and crafts studio.

“When I was in a single family home, it was a case of dragging things out before I could paint,” says Jan. “Now my supplies are all in one place, and I can easily get to them. It works out very well.”

Jan also says tips and techniques from her formal artist’s training are coming back to her.

“I took such a long vacation from painting, but now little bits are coming back to me,” she says. “It’s almost like a rebirth.”