A Life Fully Lived – Featuring the Incomparable and Multi-Talented Jeannie Fafoutis


Author: Lynn Ballou

Every spring we purchase our client birthday cards for the coming year. We love sending them out to you and take joy in writing a personal note letting you know how special you are to us.

What you may NOT know is that behind the scenes we engage in a HUGE debate to pick out the two cards for the year: one for the gals, and one for the guys. It hasn’t quite come to fisticuffs and dueling swords yet, but we are each passionate about our favorites and willing to go to extreme lengths to garner votes.


Jeannie colorful Jeannie Fafoutis


This year was easy: we all agreed that our fantastic client, emerging artist Jeannie Fafoutis, was our choice. She has shared some of her incredible artwork with us during our meetings, and we have completely fallen in love with her point of view and palette. As an emerging artist, she had not yet created a card line, so we encouraged her to use us as her launch, and we are thrilled she agreed to take us up on the challenge. I know you will enjoy her special art this year, and you can also view one of her original paintings in Laura’s office in our new suite.

I really wanted to feature her this month in our Blog, not only because of her amazing talent and desire to share her with all of my readers, but also because she really exemplifies the spirit and passion of forward thinking and hard work. Some of us are left brain thinkers, others are righties….she’s an ALL brain thinker and there’s not much she cannot do and isn’t interested in. We enjoy meeting with her so much, if for no other reason than she’s always interested in something new and keeps us on our toes! We enjoy being cheerleaders for you all, as you find your niches and avocations, or slow down and retire from those life passions. I feel you will relate to many parts of Jeannie’s life journey and will truly enjoy getting to know her. We'll let Jeannie take it from here.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your personal life, Jeanie. Where did you grow up, go to school and live?

Whenever someone asks me where I grew up, I say, “Chicago!” But, the truth is I have lived in California for the past 43 years of my life. I have a huge place in my heart for Chicago though, because I grew up there for the first 10 years of my life, my sister still lives in Naperville, Ill., my grandparents and dad lived there, I worked in downtown Chicago later in life and had my first son in Chicago.


Going back to visit Dunsmuir! Going back to visit Dunsmuir!


When I was 10, my mom remarried and I now had a new step-dad that lived in California. I went from being a city girl to a small (really small) town girl living in Dunsmuir (near Mt. Shasta) with a population of 2,500 people. My stepdad was an outdoorsman, so I learned how to ski on Mt. Shasta, fish on lakes on our little boat, hike the mountains and walk the railroad tracks to waterfalls. As I entered High School, my stepdad just so happened to be the superintendent and principal of Dunsmuir High School, which made my teen and dating life….interesting. My favorite memory of being in High School was being on the basketball team. At 6’ tall, I was a forward and star rebounder. I was also on the tennis team and a cheerleader for the football team. My junior year, my parents moved to Redding, one hour south of Dunsmuir. I thought my life was over moving to a new school. But, I made new friends, was on the basketball team for the Enterprise Hornets and graduated in 1980.

I attended Chico State briefly, then randomly decided to finish out my college years at U.C. Santa Barbara because I had never lived near the beach. It was a hard place to study with all the distractions of the beach, surfers, sun and fun, but I did graduate in 1984.

Q. You actually worked in the investment world for many years. What drew you to the profession?

During some of my summers in high school and college, I went back to Chicago to live with my Dad and work for him. My Dad owned a clearing firm on the CBOE (Chicago Board of Options Exchange). He put me to work in this fast, furious world of trading and I loved it. I started off as a runner on the CBOE trading floor, delivering trades to the trading pit brokers to execute. Then, I became a clerk for top producing broker in the IBM pit (remember IBM?), which was then the biggest pit on the floor. I held his trading deck of anticipated trades and was in charge of watching the market screens and helping him execute those trades.

After I graduated UCSB, I started work at EF Hutton as an assistant to a broker. I moved to Los Angeles a year later, got my series 3 and 7 registrations, and started working on the bond trading floor for Security Pacific Bank as an investment banker/bond salesman for the next few years. When my first son Alex came along, I hung up my registrations and became a full time mom.


Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis entitled "3 Boys on the Beach." Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis entitled "3 Boys on the Beach."


Life as a Mom!

My biggest joy and accomplishment in my life was becoming a mom to my three boys. A fun fact about my boys - all three of them were born at 7lbs. 14oz., 21 inches long. They are now all 6'3" tall, give or take!


Boys Jeannie's three sons, Nicky, Chris and Alex, July, 2015.


Alex is now 23 years old and attends the University of Alabama….Roll Tide!! Alex speaks German, backpacked through Germany last summer, loves anything to do with history, travel and SPORTS.

Chris is 21 years old, striving to become a master jeweler and gemologist. He will be starting his jewelry school program in San Francisco in October. In the meantime, he has started his own jewelry line/company and has had great success on Instagram and Etsy as an entrepreneur. I love having a son make me all my jewelry and share in my creative side!

Nicky is 17 and a senior at Campolindo High School. He is starting the college process – taking the SAT test and looking at different college campuses. He’s a catcher on the varsity baseball team and an offensive lineman and linebacker on the varsity football team.

I had all three boys home this summer and I have the electricity, water, hot tub and food bills to prove it!


Chris, Nicky, Alex, Sean, Jeannie and Bobby in Thailand. Chris, Nicky, Alex, Sean, Jeannie and Bobby in Thailand.


I love spending time with my boys and we are lucky enough to share these times with my longtime boyfriend, Bobby. He has three children as well, so we have four boys and two girls together. We all enjoy golfing, hiking, skiing, cooking and traveling as a family. We took a great trip this summer to Vancouver to see the Women’s World Cup, then on to beautiful Whistler and Seattle. Last Christmas, we took the kids skiing to Utah at Park City and Canyons. They are all amazing skiers and it is great to ski as a family.


Bobby and Jeannie in Puerto Vallarta Bobby and Jeannie in Puerto Vallarta


We also took the crew to Singapore and Thailand for an amazing adventure last summer. Bob was doing some business in Singapore the last two years and we both became Singapore citizens, since he worked there and we traveled there on a monthly basis. We had a great apartment in Singapore and it served as a convenient base to take advantage of traveling all over the different countries back there. We were fortunate enough to discover every inch of Singapore (which we love), Thailand, Koi Samui, Naka Island, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia/Bali, Sydney, Spain and my favorite- the Maldives. I am in constant search now of curry that rivals Singapore and Thailand curry and I miss the monkeys hanging from the trees when we hike.


Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis entitled, "Foggy East Bay Hills." Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis entitled, "Foggy East Bay Hills."


Q. You are now switching your career path in a pretty significant way. Tell us what you love about being an artist. Have you always known you have this super talent?

I would say I have more of a super passion for being an artist and the arts, but not necessarily a super talent! (Editor’s note --- ahem, not true!) I will always be a life-long learner and enjoy the journey along the way.

I accidently stumbled upon my super-talented art teacher and watercolor class that started my artistic journey, back in 2004. I had never taken a formal art class in school or college and I had worked in the left-brain world of finances. One day, I was in an art store looking at supplies, after inquiring at the Art Room in Lafayette about taking an art class on a whim. I just thought it would be fun while my kids were in school, but had no experience whatsoever. This nice lady came up to me in the store and told me she was a watercolor teacher, and offered to help me pick out supplies. I guess I looked lost and bewildered surrounded by the array of brushes, paper, paints, etc. to choose from. I told her that I had just signed up for a watercolor class with Camille Young, at the Art Room. She said, “Well, that’s me!” It was fate from there, that I have been blessed with having such an amazing teacher throughout these years of my ups and downs of learning the difficult but exciting medium of watercolor. I have been with the same teacher and same watercolor group for over 10 years now. Not only have I learned a tremendous amount of technique and some different mediums, I have grown as an artist, developed my own style, gained confidence in my art work and have grown personally in my journey.


Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis hanging in Laura's office. Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis hanging in Laura's office.


Q. How have you developed your style? What mediums do you enjoy working in the most? Would you say you are still evolving?

My style has really come naturally. I have taken what I have learned from my teacher in watercolor technique and the art of realism, and have expanded on what inspires me. In class I was always known as the rebel, because I would go outside my box and use bolder colors, design, loosen up and make the composition my own. My style has evolved from what I love to do most and what motivates and inspires me. My travels around the world have brought a lot of insight and opened my eyes to different ways to paint. I took several art classes in Singapore and have been drawn to the Urban Sketching that is so popular there. It’s amazing if you sit down on a bench and watch the world go by. I see things differently when I go to sketch and paint them. Painting has opened my eyes to see things clearer, notice details, magnify color, see shadows, light, reflections, beauty, expressions, angles, lines, foreshortening and things fading away in the distance. My main inspiration is nature and hiking in the beautiful San Francisco area with my Norwich terrier, Ziggy and Bobby. I always bring my camera to capture the sunsets, the poppies in the hills, the shadows on the trail, the reflections on the lake, the cloud formations and colors of the hills, trees and flowers. I paint what I see and that creates great joy, peace and wonderment in my life.


Hiking buddy, Ms. Ziggy Fafoutis. Hiking buddy, Ms. Ziggy Fafoutis.


The medium I love to use is obviously watercolor. I’ve been told the watercolor is the hardest medium to paint in, because there is not a lot of room for mistakes. But I love the transparency, the luminosity, the fluid, flowing way the colors mix and create a piece of art. I have also been taking some abstract, mixed media, perspective and charcoal drawing classes to expand my thinking and to incorporate these new techniques in my watercolor paintings. I will always be evolving, learning, and expanding my knowledge and techniques to create more works of art. I think it’s important to be open and try new things and to sometimes fail at new things. Art has taught me some really good life lessons - to not be afraid of failing, to let go of inhibitions and creative roadblocks, to find your passion, to do what you love and love what you are doing.


Charcoal drawing of Ms.Ziggy. Charcoal drawing of Ms.Ziggy.


That said, I’m open to hearing about ways to make my passion for art a profitable career choice. So I’d really love to hear from any readers with ideas to share with me about that journey and their suggestions on what steps I should consider taking.


Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis entitled "Poppies." Original watercolor by Jeannie Fafoutis entitled "Poppies."


Q. Recently you added to your impressive resume your Master’s in Marketing. What piqued your interest in that field?

I have been a Mom for 23 years and have done a lot of charity and non-profit work while I raised my kids. But, I felt the world was rapidly changing before my eyes with technology and social media and I wanted to get up to speed. I also wanted to get back in the working world somehow and I wanted to enjoy what I was doing.

I know I’m dating myself, but in college I didn’t even have a cell phone and still typed my papers on a typewriter! I decided on the marketing program at UC Berkeley extension because it was a flexible program that still allowed me to raise my kids and go to school at the same time. I thought marketing would be a great avenue to learn about social media, small business, technology and it would one day serve as a valuable tool to help me market my art and start my own business. My kids were proud of how hard I worked and my hope was that I would be a good role model for them. I wanted them to see that no matter what age you are, you can still follow your dreams. I definitely was the oldest person in every class I took and was the only person that did not have a Facebook account! But, I finally succumbed to the social media craze and realized how much it could really help my future business endeavors. I graduated in less than a year with a 4.0 G.P.A. and was the Marketing student featured in the UC Berkeley extension catalog in 2014.


Jeannie and the boys at the top of Whistler Mountain, July, 2015. Jeannie and the boys at the top of Whistler Mountain, July, 2015.


Q. What would you share with others who dream of taking a major focus shift in their life plans?

Go for it!! Follow your passion and don’t doubt yourself. Life is a journey of learning and adventure. No matter how big or small, your passion should inspire you to try new things, push you past your roadblocks and open your eyes to endless possibilities.

I want to thank Jeannie so much for sharing all these ideas with us. She welcomes hearing from any and all of you, especially fellow artists or those pondering exploring that field. And since putting her Blog together, Jeannie has recently passed her Real Estate License Exam and has yet another passion to pursue!

You can reach Jeannie Fafoutis at: idream.jeannie@gmail.com. Cheers!


Jeannie's motto - fantastic words to live by! Jeannie's motto - fantastic words to live by!


This blog post features a story about a current or former client. Content featured on this blog is intended to be for entertainment and informative purposes only, and is not intended to document a client's opinions or experiences of/with EP Wealth Advisors. Statements made should not be construed as an endorsement of EP Wealth Advisors by any client nor is it representative of any one client’s evaluation of the firm. Participating clients have been voluntarily selected based on interesting and relatable stories, hobbies, and other non-investment related experiences and factors. EP Wealth Advisors does not know whether any of the featured clients view them favorably or not.

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