Landscape of a life

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Cover Story, Featured, Home & Garden

Published on July 27, 2011 with No Comments

by Neal F. Litherland

Everyone has a dream job. For a lot of the population, it’s something in the arts. People want to be actors, fashion designers, writers, poets, sculptors and artists.

Too often, reality causes those dreams to just stay dreams.

For Northwest Indiana painter Jean Bargeron, a dream of being a painter has been a part of her waking reality for more than 60 years.

“I’ve been a full-time artist for about 15 years now,” Bargeron, an Ogden Dunes resident, said. “But art and painting has always been a part of my life.”

Bargeron says that she began painting when she was still a little girl. It was just a hobby, something fun to do, but she was encouraged by her grandmother and others to continue painting because she enjoyed it.

Even though she went to school with an eye towards practicality, learning how to be an X-Ray technician in the 1960s, Bargeron never lost a love of art.

“It’s important that, if art is your passion, that you take everything in your life and use it to focus your art,” Bargeron said. That’s how she kept painting while going to school and working a variety of careers. “I found that even though I was studying anatomy and physiology, I was improving my ability to draw because I knew so much more about the human body, how it worked and what it looked like.”

Though she’s been working lately in landscapes, Bargeron has experimented with a variety of art forms. She began with portraits and sketching, moving through water colors and into oils as her subjects and mediums changed. Bargeron and her husband, Walt, have moved all over the country and lived in a variety of different cities. According to Bargeron it was a very interesting experience.

“Every time we’d move I had to reinvent myself,” Bargeron said. But while Bargeron may have gotten a new address, new phone number and even new jobs (she’s been a newspaper illustrator, freelance artist, interior designer and furniture arranger among other occupations), the one constant is her art.

When her husband retired as an engineer for Bethlehem Steel Corp., they decided to stay in Ogden Dunes. They were happy in their last place of residence and the area was a nice, solid place to settle down and live. Of course even though her husband retired, Bargeron found that she was as devoted to her art as ever.

“I started painting landscapes because it’s a way to really notice the world around you and everything in it,” Bargeron said. “Whenever I paint, I want to help people see what I see. I want to evoke a reaction from my viewers. I want to tell the story through my work.”

After a lifetime of being an artist, and a reasonably successful one who’s had work featured in the United States as well as overseas in Ireland and the U.K., Bargeron has some good advice for those who want to make their artistic passion their vocation. The first thing is to practice your art, whatever it is. Take classes and spend some of every, single day practicing what you do, whether it’s sketching in a little notebook or reciting lines when you’re alone in your apartment in front of the mirror.

Another thing, and perhaps the most important step for any artist to take, is to always pursue your passion. Even if you have to work flipping burgers during the day, that’s no reason not to go out and play the guitar, sing, dance, write or sculpt when you’re off the clock and back home.

“Never give up,” Bargeron said. “It’s the most important thing you can do is never give up and never stop trying.”

Jean Bargeron has a studio at her home in Ogden Dunes. Viewings can be made by appointment. For more information, call 219-764-2822 or visit

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal:

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