A key word for Wichita artist Jan Klassen is “enjoyment” – for herself and, she hopes, the viewer.

An exhibit of Klassen’s paintings, “Back to Nature,” is currently on display at Bethel College in the Regier Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center.

Klassen came to painting in the “second half” of life. After a 20-year career in apparel retail as a buyer, display creator and department head, and after seeing her last child leave home, she was looking for “an antidote to empty-nest syndrome,” she says, along with “a desire to grow, and not give in to aging.”

She enrolled in a computer class at Barton County Community College, Great Bend, but admits she thought computer skills would be “necessary but not fun.” So she also signed up for art appreciation.

“The instructor for this class believed that the only way to appreciate art is to try it,” Klassen says. “She therefore incorporated hands-on projects – painting, drawing, clay work, collage, and so on – into the curriculum. I found I really enjoyed painting – and I found a passion.”

Klassen has continued to take classes, at BCCC, and then when she and her husband moved to Wichita, at Wichita Center for the Arts, now Mark Arts, and CityArts. She has studied with Brian Hinkle, Matthew Hilliard, Joe Gross, Paul Wingo and Melinda Weis.

Klassen joined Gallery XII in 2011. “Working with a cooperative gallery gives me a space to always show my work and also to work with and be inspired by other artists,” she says.

Klassen works in acrylic and oil, often adding texture with paper or other texturizing media

“Back to Nature” is on display through March 29. The artist reception is that evening from 6-8 p.m. outside the Regier Gallery.

The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Mondays through Fridays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays. The gallery is closed Sunday, March 18, and Sunday, March 25, for Bethel’s spring break. Admission is free.