After retiring from two years ago, Baiba Jensen did what every retiree should do: relax.
“I took a few months after retirement to veg out,” Jensen said.
But Jensen's restless spirit soon got the best of her. So she turned to a hobby she always wanted to try: refurbishing vintage furniture.
Jensen transformed her basement into a studio and began purchasing tables, chairs, benches, mirrors, plant stands and other pieces from flea markets, auctions and antique shops. She refinishes the pieces, adding hand painted details. The endeavor has lead to OverBoard Studio, LLC, a business she operates online.
Jensen credits Brighton's close-knit community for the business's success.
“My former colleagues and the parents of my former students are my best customers,” Jensen said.
Jensen, who grew up in Saginaw, moved to Brighton with her husband and two sons in 1994 after commuting from Ann Arbor for several years. After working as a teacher and principal in elementary and middle schools for 38 years, Jensen decided she was ready for a change.
“I've always been creative, but it's really hard to nurture that side of you when you work 60 - 70 hours a week as an administrator,” Jensen, who served as a principal at , said. “I have time, flexibility and energy now.”
Three months after retiring, Jensen also found time to join a friend at painting class led by Norma Gray, the woman responsible for the foundation of the (BAG). Jensen has since attended several painting classes and workshops led by area artists, and she has become an active member of the BAG.
She uses her experience as a teacher, school administrator and curriculum director to help organize and facilitate community education outreach events for the BAG. Last year, she helped lead art classes and organize an exhibit for students at the .
“Sometimes it's difficult to totally switch gears, but after you get over feeling like a deer in headlights, you can find a second passion that you never knew you had,” Jensen said. “Now, I'm hooked.”
Jensen has participated in juried and non-juried shows with the BAG, and she is currently pursuing additional outlets for her work. One of her pieces recently won an award at Kaleidoscope, BAG's annual member exhibition.
“I'm evolving as an artist and a person,” Jensen said. “I would not be where I am in my journey without the mentor-ship, support and camaraderie of the Brighton Art Guild.”
Drawn to vibrant colors and textures found in nature, Jensen said her paintings tend to feature organic forms. To give the images she creates an abstract feel, Jensen paints primarily on YUPO, a waterproof synthetic paper. Because the paper isn't absorbent, paints float and flow together on the surface, creating a looser, impressionistic representation of Jensen's subjects.
“It's challenging and freeing at the same time,” Jensen said. “For me, art is about resolving an image. But, no matter how long you've been an artist, it takes awhile to get the right feel.”