Here’s a secret. Before I painted horses, I painted birds. In fact (leans in close and whispers) I STILL love to paint birds, even though I haven’t done so for a while. So, when I received an alert about an inaugural juried show called ‘The Vernal Equinox” being held near my hometown of Naperville, IL, I knew I had to submit something. Even though this piece was created several years ago, it fit the spring” theme of the show perfectly. The Great Blue Heron is a migratory bird that arrives in the Midwest during April and May, and I have fond memories of gathering at Lake Renwick with my father to observe dozens of herons and other wading birds during the spring and summer months. The jurying of images happened right in the middle of our cross country move (more on that soon!) and I had to scramble to unpack several pieces of artwork to locate “Great Blue Heron” once I learned it was accepted to the show. Per the organizers, around 270 works of art were submitted – that’s a phenomenal amount for an inaugural show – and mine was one of 55 accepted. I also have to give a shout out to the article for noting that some of the artwork came from Texas… that’s me! I’m so happy to have a piece of my artwork on exhibition at an inaugural event in my home state. “Great Blue Heron” scratchboard, watercolor and india inks on Clapboard. Here’s a link to more information on the show:
About Joanna Zeller Quentin
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Sometimes things are meant to be… I painted “Hindsight” in oils over ten years ago, and I loved the painting so much I never actively listed it for sale. I would occasionally bring it to shows to exhibit, and it has been a mainstay of my portfolio. In 2016, a woman contacted me after seeing a print of it exhibited with LOPE.org, an off the track racehorse organization I partner with for fundraising. It turns out that “Hindsight” was a dead ringer for one of her beloved and now sadly departed horses – a bay mare named Katie. The mane, the markings, the bay coat – it was all a perfect match, except for a few white socks. Miss Katie had her sock on the opposite foot. Because finances were tight, the woman asked if there was any way she could buy the painting in installments. As an artist and art collector, I understand all too well how it feels to fall in love with a special piece of art and not have the funds immediately available to purchase, so I agreed. She then asked if there was any way I could switch around the white socks to end up on the correct back feet, and I was happy to oblige. She sent some photos so I could see Katie’s uncanny resemblance to my Hindsight model and shared a few stories about Katie’s personality and behavior. In November 2018, she drove 8 hours round trip to pick up her painting and cried tears of joy in my dining room. I have to admit, I may have teared up a little myself.
There’s something so very special about the bond between horse and human, and it is an honor and a privilege to be asked to express that bond in the time honored tradition of commissioned portraiture. I am forever grateful for my job and the amazing clients who support me.
Joanna Zeller Quentin / artist, artwork, dressage, equestrian artwork, equine art, eventing, horse, horse painting, horse portraits, horses, hunter, Joanna Zeller Quentin, jumper, Magazine, Moose Pants Studio, Sidelines, sporthorse /
“Hooked on Horses and Art”in the March 2019 issue of Sidelines Magazine! I am so very proud of the great article Sidelines Magazine ran in the March issue about me, my horse, and my artwork. Special thanks to Bill and Tanya of Albertex Photography for the amazing photographs used to illustrate the article, and a huge horsey hug for Frankers, who managed to look dashing and dapper even when the photographers pulled out the terrifying monopod for the camera! (That was a big “NOPE!” when they tried to come any closer than 15′. Frank really hates … sticks. Upright sticks. I don’t know why.) Here is a link to the March issue of Sidelines. Our feature begins on page 18.
Commissioned Portraits = Custom Horse Art
Commissions are an artist’s bread and butter. Not to mention the fact that they are incredibly fun and rewarding to do for both the artist and the patron. Almost everybody has a favorite picture of themselves and/or their horse, but maybe something’s not quite right about it. You love the pose, but there’s a truck in the background. Or you adore the colors but your horse had his mouth open… or you do! Or in some cases, you’ve got a collection of pictures featuring people and animals who have never been on the planet together at the same time. All of these things can make you wish for a magic wand… or a magic paintbrush.
Commissioned portraits solve all of these issues. When designing a commission, the only limit is your imagination… and good reference material. (I cannot stress enough how important GOOD reference photos are. See how much I’m emphasizing this? STILL NOT ENOUGH.)
When you commission a portrait, you and I work together to create the piece you want, in the size you want, to fill the space you want, in the colors you want. It’s a true collaboration. We discuss the details of the portrait including color scheme, “mood”, etc, and review images to try and define the idea you are trying to convey. Once we have the idea fleshed out, I’ll create a sketch and color scheme. Once you approve the sketch, it’s off to work for me. Once the painting is finished and the balance paid, I carefully package it up and ship to you, ready for display!
Prices start as low as $500 for 9×12 in oil, $400 for watercolor or gouache, or $300 for pencil/ charcoal/ ink.
Custom sizes available. Contact me for more details! And remember, I also offer gift certificates.
“Electric” by Joanna Zeller Quentin was selected to be featured as part of Art Squared in LA in the summer of 2018. Art Squared is Electric in LA! Super stoked to see giant 8’x8′ banners of “Electric” hanging in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles this past summer. It was even more extraordinary because this original painting is ONLY 9″x12″. Astonishing to see this image blown up so large and still maintain integrity. Thanks to Studio C and Art Squared for inviting me to “hang” with the cool LA crowd!
Joanna Zeller Quentin / artist, artwork, business, computer, equine artist, Freshbooks, horse art, horse paintings, Joanna Zeller Quentin, Moose Pants Studio, painting, portrait, Ringling College of Art and Design, software, taxes /
As a professional artist, I was expecting a wildly unconventional life of paint slinging, absinthe drinking, bohemian- inspired wanderings, midnight oil burning, and international jet setting. No, that’s not true. What I anticipated from a career as an artist was a great deal of hard work, some wins and a lot of failures, the ability to professionally present myself and my art, quality contacts, supportive fellow artists, lots of museum visiting and book reading, long nights with tight deadlines, and a moderate level of success. That’s what I studied for, prepared for, and signed up for. Thankfully, due to a stellar college education, some aptitude for art and a lot of support from fellow creatives, it’s mostly what I have, and I’m very grateful for it. But do you know the one thing they don’t talk about in art school? The paperwork. Creating and running an art business isn’t just about putting in the work in front of the easel. It’s not even about the packing and shipping and arranging and contracting and marketing and invoicing. It’s about record keeping.
When did I create that piece? What are the dimensions? When did it sell? Who bought it, and for how much? When was it last exhibited? WHERE IS IT??? These are all questions I was confronted with over the past few days. Thankfully, due to a mostly cobbled together but kinda-sorta quasi effective record keeping system, I was able to answer most of them with a minimum of hand wringing and teeth gnashing. (The unanswered one is enough to send my blood pressure skyrocketing, so we’ll just let that be.) But as I huddled in front of my computer, poring through excel spreadsheets, old emails, CVs and invoices, that little nagging voice in my ear kept reminding me that this wasn’t necessarily what I expected when I decided to pursue a professional art career.
Naïve, huh? Yeah, maybe. Surprising? Not really. I am glad that my college required all Illustration majors to take a semester of art business management, which basically boiled down to
1) don’t get screwed on illustration contract negotiations, and 2) always pay your taxes. Although not terribly in depth, this is still more than many BFA programs offer, and I am grateful for it. However, I do wish they had devoted a little more attention to setting up an effective record keeping system for the artwork produced over your career, especially if you don’t work with a rep or gallery. (I also wished for a pony most of my life, and I got that, so what’s the harm in asking???)
Being a Libra, I’m told I’m keenly sensitive to aesthetics and like for things to be beautifully and artistically organized, but in real life I seem to be perennially accompanied by a miniature hurricane. My desk is currently covered with receipts (have to file those), reference photos (have to file those too), sketchbooks, various mark making tools, a few tubes of paint, extra computer cables, flash drives (because mine tend to go on walkabout without me), a few semi important banking things (filed in the “to be filed” pile), and a giant stuffed stingray, but he’s only there for moral support. After a few hours of filing, categorizing, searching, and organizing, the desk is cleaner, but my mind is spinning. There HAS to be a better way to do this, right?
Excel spreadsheets, file folders, a new online invoicing system (thank you, Freshbooks!), a sadly defunct painting inventory software program, digital asset libraries, multiple mailing lists, a pile of press articles, advertising and magazine mentions, print edition records, a few hard drives… it’s enough to make any sane person insane. Part of my goal this year is to once and for all nail down all these disparate items into one cohesive system, one that’s devoted to running Moose Pants Studio like a super successful mega company, even if right now we’re only a very small, moderately successful company. Paperwork, digital asset management, and record keeping is not my forte, but I’m coming to realize that it’s almost as important as putting paintbrush to canvas and producing the work. Intelligently managed, your artwork can have a very successful and lucrative life after you create it, but only if you can stay on top of the organization. Sometimes applying the finishing brushstroke turns out to be just
the beginning of a piece, and not the end.
Do you have any successful art managing tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!
Joanna Zeller Quentin / American Pharoah, art, artist, drawing, equestrian, equine art, horse, Joanna Zeller Quentin, LOPE, LOPETX.org, Lynn reardon, Moose Pants Studio, OTTB, painting, racehorse, Texas, Texas racing, Texas Racing Commission /
It’s all about giving back…
My very own OTTB. This is Baby B Free, aka Frankie. Fabulous jumper, failed racehorse, equine model, artistic muse, and part time therapist.
I’ve always had a thing for Thoroughbreds, and I was delighted to find an awesome organization in Austin, TX, that partners with Texas trainers and owners to retrain and rehome TBs who didn’t quite make it as a racehorse (ahem, Frankie, ahem. Cough cough.) I’ve been a supporter of theirs for years, created pieces specifically for their fundraising efforts, and gotten to know the backbone of this incredible organization, Lynn Reardon, author of Beyond the Homestretch. (Haven’t read it? READ IT!!) LOPE continues to do lifesaving work, not only for the horses they directly handle off the track, but in helping to dispel the myth of the “crazy, uncontrollable thoroughbred who has no future outside of a racetrack.” I’m beyond honored to be named the official artist for LOPE. Visit www.Lopetx.org for more information!
A special note from Joanna: “I grew up riding OTTBs sent to us from Arlington Racetrack in Chicago. You’d think that young TBs recently removed from the track and horse crazy eleven year old girls would be a disastrous combination, but there were surprisingly few problems. What we found were horses who, despite being in an unfamiliar environment and bombarded with unexpected stimuli (what’s that leg pressure all about? What do you mean “trot”? Why are we going in a circle to the right?) were athletic and willing to the extreme with good brains, a great work ethic, and a true eagerness to learn something new. They learned the basics of W-T-C, trot poles, and small jumps, and we learned to be light in our hands, Zen-like in the saddle, safety conscious in the barn, and generous with praise. We rode in a sales barn, so those horses did not stay with us long, but many of them went on to successful careers in the hunter/jumper world. While we “barn rats” may not have played a pivotal role in the long-term development and retraining of those horses, they taught us a lifetime of lessons to be applied both in and out of the saddle. I’m forever grateful to them for introducing me to the world of infinite possibility, incredible resilience, and untapped potential that can be found in the unlikeliest of individuals. I am overjoyed to partner with LOPE and support their lifesaving work devoted to the retraining and rehoming of these incredible equine athletes.”
For the past few months, I’ve been working on a commission that’s been far outside my comfort level. I can’t say too much about it until it’s ready to ship out to the client, but I will readily acknowledge that seldom have I approached a commissioned piece of artwork with such trepidation and determination. This piece has been a huge challenge, in more ways than one, and I’m proud of myself for accepting the challenge. <—– SO SCARY!!!
Each painting has a “ta-da!’ moment, one color or one brushstroke or one line that suddenly and magically transforms the whole piece from a mess of paint into a living, breathing, flowing thing. It’s like slicing through the Gordian knot, except you aren’t sure which tool to use to try and cut it, or what it’s made of, or what will happen when it falls to pieces. (And you’re blindfolded. In a cave. With a bear. Wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress.) While I’d love to say that my paintings are all meticulously planned out with preparatory color studies and thumbnails, this is unfortunately not the case. Many times, I have a great, wonderful, exciting idea – maybe even a spark from a reference photo or trip to the barn – and I dive right in. I DO plan a little bit, but probably not quite to the level I should. I’m working on it. Really.
But back to this monster challenge. I’ve been mucking about with this thing, studying and obsessing and painting and scraping and repainting, and it just wasn’t quite coming together as I envisioned it. More importantly, it wasn’t coming together as the client envisioned it. But, with the discovery last week of the “missing piece”, which in this case happened to be the perfect, lovely, soft, lively greyish brownish bluish greenish color that I needed for critical areas, the whole painting pivoted around. Suddenly, I can see it! More importantly, I can see the finish line, and (dare I say?) I’m feeling pretty confident about pulling this off.
This year, I’ve set a few ambitious goals for myself. One of them is this blog. (Sigh.) Another is a log book of every piece of art I complete. (I have a computer program for the bookkeeping part of this, but nothing that really allows me to get in there and write detail.) I’m making a list of what works in each piece, what didn’t work, and what I would have done differently. Since I’m aiming to complete one piece a month this year, I hope to have a pretty good little reference book by the time 2017 rolls around.