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Seeing through the eyes of the soul
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It is clear after one glance at her painting "Eyes of the Soul" that Jan Jentzen is a lady who knows her business. The vividly-colored, cheerless clown suggests an artist with decades of practice refining her craft. But for all her apparent talents, Jentzen has actually only recently begun painting.

About five years ago, after she and her husband Tom retired, Jentzen decided to pursue the lifelong dream.

"I always wanted to try painting, so one of our most well known artists here at the gallery, Elise Hammond, was a neighbor of mine," she said. "I asked her if she would give me some lessons, so that's how I got involved. I just started painting with her and she though maybe I could do something with my art."

Jentzen now produces several types of art including watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings, as well as collages and mosaics. Of all the art she has fashioned, Jentzen said the painting "Eyes of the Soul" and a mosaic named "Katrina" are her favorites.

"Katrina" is a statue of a dog covered with found objects.

 "I worked so hard on it because it was from all the salvaged pieces we found from Hurricane Katrina," Jentzen said.

Most of the found objects on "Katrina" were pieces of her cousin's jewelry that were ruined during the hurricane. "Katrina" had been on display at an art gallery, but was recently purchased. Though pieces like "Katrina" seem a little gloomy, most of Jentzen's work features bright colors with a sunnier disposition.

"Usually I'm just wanting to have fun with my art," she said.

Several more of Jentzen's pieces can be bought or just admired at the Southern Heartland Gallery and Frame Shop. Jentzen is one of the shop's 13 cofounders.

As part owner of the gallery, she works eight hours a month at the front counter, but spends countless more teaching others how to create art in one of the gallery's two classrooms. Jentzen said she really enjoyed teaching children during the summer art camp.

She also serves as secretary-treasurer of the Southern Heartland Art Guild and is currently helping plan a Monte Carlo themed event to raise money for the guild. The event will be held in February and will feature gambling, door prizes and of course lots of art.

"And we are always looking for sponsors," she said.

When Jentzen is not creating art, she enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband. This year alone the couple have gone on two cross country bike rides that have taken them through at least 25 states.

Travel is nothing new for Jentzen, who worked for several years with AT&T and spent most of her time on the road.

"I've been to every state except Hawaii," she said. "Maybe one day I'll make it out there. My mother says I have gypsy blood in me because I like to travel so much."

Until then, Jentzen will continue to enjoy her retirement like a person half her age. Just a few weeks ago, she braved North Carolina white water rapids for the first time.

"We went on some class three rapids," Jentzen said. "We weren't brave enough for the class four."