The Magic of Jan, The Artist Jan

Throughout the year, Jan Bourdon creates magic in Woodbury for friends & customers of all ages.

Making the everyday a little more eventful comes naturally to Jan Bourdon. 

She’s a serious artist who can spend hours selecting just the right oil canvas.

Then while spending time with friends at The Villa, Woodbury Senior Living, she can pick up a scissors and paper to fashion a mask for her mother and other residents giving rise to an impromptu, fun party.

Everything she touches becomes an event.  Style just oozes from her fingertips.  If Jan rearranges a bunch of flowers, I guarantee you, it will look better.  A greeting card designed by her & written by her is a keepsake.  Each canvas, each illustration, each commission is highly personal to Bourdon.

  If you have ever driven by The Villa, on the Lake Road side and glanced in the Sunroom’s windows, you will see that the windows are painted seasonally by Jan and they look just as well from the road side as from being viewed within.  The artistic windows, her fun and her serious work always become alive with her gifted hands and mind.  An incredibly interesting woman.  Jan’s work is the highlight of the Holidays for so many people. 

Not only has she the gift of the trade, she has a keen eye into the exploration of the outdoors.  As for her art, it is like she has waved a magic wand over the canvas - she’s created such fantasies.  She often uses eye-popping color, and, with passion she will show you why nature is so important to her art and to her life.  

Not only does she volunteer for the elderly in Woodbury, Bourdon actively volunteers to help save wildlife and is serious about the environment.  She’s active in the outdoors; an avid cross country skier, snowshoer, kayaker, and biker. She also enjoys camping, hiking, canoeing, golfing and she has traveled by RV all over the US, Canada & Mexico. 

If Bourdon did not get into a career of public service & art, she would have followed a career in golf.  She even tried out with the very first professional women’s golf team back in her old U of MN days.  Back then, no money available to compete, for travel or for uniforms.  She loved the experience and laughs heartily, thinking back.  Currently the love affair with golf lives on, matching players on three different leagues. 


What intrigues me every time I meet up with Jan is not just her craft; it is her vivaciousness, her fun spirit and love for folks of all generations.  She has volunteered, danced, played the goof-ball, and cried with those stricken with illness, death, and darkness.  She celebrates with joy; she just knows what to do to help & has a kind heart for all. And, when we have sung at gatherings, we discover, at times, that we cannot remember words – only all within her orbit dissolved in laughter.

Her work is an ‘event’ and for public sale, and her laughter is cherished and priceless.  I hear her laughter ringing in my ears with an ocean between us at times.


Jan graduated from the U of MN with a degree in Physical Education and Art Education.  She’s worked for the MN Dep. of Education, the Dep. of Taxation and Dept. of Corrections before moving to California.  With a colleague she created a company and successfully implemented a Job Search Program – providing services to thousands of out of work citizens in the Bay Area of California. 


Due to its success, they were asked to work for the School District of Pennsylvania to implement the program to 26 high schools.  Jan and company adapted the curriculum, wrote textbook, trained teachers and for six years implemented the Job Search Program that won the Blue Ribbon Award from the City of Philadelphia.  Jan partnered with the Pew Foundation, Work in America Institute, and the Philadelphia School District.

Her fondest memory is walking down California streets and hearing her name, ‘Hey Jan…got a job, thanks…” Clients would show gratefulness for the job training she offered that led to an improved standard of living & livelihood for individuals and families. 


Jan Bourdon returned to Minnesota due to the needs of her aging parents.  Soon she found companionship of like minds… especially when she worked for the Dept. of Education in St. Paul.  There she administered Adult Education Programs, Youth programs & served on the team for Continuous Improvement for Public Schools with budgets up to $10 million dollars.


   Bourdon says, “I had so many wonderful opportunities when I worked for the Department of Education. I helped Governor Perpich with Women & Minorities in Mathematics and Science”.  She added, “I wrote the Youth Service Workbook, and I designed many other programs for the Migrant Education program”.  Bourdon was Director of Migrant Education and it is easy to decipher while talking with this lady, that this was a very gratifying field of work, and she is still very passionate about those in society less well-off and offering quality education for all citizens. 

 Jan’s experiences are innumerous… she has worked in every school district in Minnesota.  She’s been a grant writer, kept the money flowing from Washington to MN, curriculum designer, program designer, fund raiser, public speaker/presenter.  She administered huge amounts of money, evaluated programs, designed continuous improvement processes, coordinated with private industries, government and other public and non-public organizations.

 The unintended side effect is that, in all she did, the extra visual detail made everything more interesting and fun.  She always kept involved with the arts. “The exciting thread throughout my work has been my art involvement.  It was so natural to move from retirement into fulltime art”. 

 Jan’s company name is “Portraits by Jan Louise”.  She draws portraits of children, animals, wildlife, birds and has now been working completing watercolor commission paintings of our natural environment and wildlife.  

 The artistic gene runs in the family.  Jan’s father was an illustrator, and he sold his work on the side.  He worked for Northern States Power full time.  Up to his death, Jan and dad illustrated together. 

Her current art memberships are with the Minnesota Watercolor Society, The North Star Water Media Society, and The White Bear Center for the Arts.  


   Jan was nominated for Who’s Who in 2007 for Educational Consulting. She has received numerous other awards in her work life, sports, environmental activities, and now with her art career.


 I challenged Jan recently with a question:  If wishes had wings what would be yours?

 According to Jan, “If wishes had wings I would wish that all facilities taking care of our children’s education and the care of our elderly would strive to be the very best and reach high standards of performance”. 

Folks in Woodbury have approached me on a few different occasions to write an article on Jan.  I gladly met her Saturday on a short visit to MN - and, I was reminded how much I have appreciated her.  She has a fountain of love for friends who are always in ready supply in Woodbury, and all over the country, and she has a talent for making each person feel special. 

Her friends and acquaintances want to thank her too for volunteering so much in the vicinity and wish her continued success with her art…and I hope she knows that her artistic worth and entertainment to the citizens and customers in Woodbury is greatly appreciated. 

 Bourdon is as exciting as her paintings, full of energy and vivacity –her life a smattering of contemporary, a touch of ethnic elegance, confidence and modesty, with a great foundation and love of  the mid-west, with cool punk-rock hair; and it is always…an evening of laughter and nonstop conversation while with her.

 Woodbury is fortunate to house so many generous and skilled people.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kris Janisch January 01, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Love the painting of the dog in the winter hat. Thanks Margaret for sharing Jan's work!


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