The Music Country Grand Prix is a Franklin equestrian jumping event at Brownland Farms that benefits Saddle Up!, a group that offers horse riding therapy for children and youth with disabilities. Festivities start at 3:30 p.m. on May 30, 2015.
This will be the Grand Prix‘s 27th year, and Joan Jannaman, an experienced equestrian painter, will be the featured artist. We asked her some questions about her work:
WS: Describe your thoughts and experiences with Williamson County.
JJ: Although I live in Sumner Co., my work often takes me to Williamson Co. I always look forward to a trip to Brownland Farms to shoot photo references at their horse shows and also to simply enjoy the experience of such a wonderful facility. Franklin has every reason to feel very proud that Brownland is in their city. I was happy to make many trips to Leiper’s Fork when the Laurel Leaf Gallery had their business there. They carried my artwork and I would look forward to that wonderful drive on Hillsboro Road past so many picturesque horse farms. I make a trip out to Saddle Up! on that same road now and again and just love that part of your beautiful county.
WS: Tell me about how you became an artist/started painting.
JJ: My father was an artist and both my mom and dad encouraged me as a child to follow what I loved the most, which was both horses and art. I pestered my father for riding lessons as well as a chance to paint with oils. He let me start to take the riding lessons when I was in the third grade but said I had to wait to paint with oils. Of course that made me want to do it all that much more. Finally in the sixth grade he reluctantly let me start an oil painting of , you guessed it, a horse. After making what can only be described as a mess of chunky mud…I threw myself on the bed in a dramatic fit of emotion and said I would never ever paint again! I was wrong. He was right. I went back to pencil and paper for many years but always in the back of my mind was the desire to paint. As it turns out…all those years of drawing was the best thing that I could have done for myself. When I finally started to paint…I was ready! The last art advice Dad gave me was, “just paint the way you draw”. I still have that 6th grade horse painting in my studio.
WS: What will you be doing at the Grand Prix?
JJ: I will probably be watching everyone else work really hard and feeling a little guilty because my hard work was at the beginning of the planning process and not on the actual day of the Grand Prix! Of course I’ll have my camera with me. Being surrounded by the friendly, hard working volunteers for Saddle Up! is always fun. Checking out the silent auction…I mean who can resist that? There’s always something for everyone there!
WS:What inspires you to paint horses?
JJ: I never tire of watching these fabulous animals and their talented riders. Whether it be Eventing, Foxhunting, Steeplechasing, Hunter/Jumpers, Dressage, Western Reining, etc. I love to continue to learn about various horse sports and the technical aspects of all of them. The common denominator is the horse and their huge hearts, stunning beauty and amazing generosity of spirit that allows us to work with them as a team. It is still magical to me and always will be.
WS: Can you describe your career as an artist?
JJ: It was during my high school years that by giving little ones their very beginning riding lessons on ponies I realized I enjoyed the challenge of teaching. My career as an artist has spanned various positions over the years starting as an elementary school art teacher after finishing college with a degree in Art Education. While teaching, I studied illustration at the Philadelphia College of Art and since then have continued my education at professional painting workshops around the country. I was an art teacher, an archaeological illustrator and a freelance artist throughout the years since graduating. Drawing in pencil and pen & ink were the mediums that I chose for many years. It helped me to build a strong foundation for moving into painting. However, the ticking of time made me stop and evaluate what I really wanted. The answer to that was to return to my original passion of art and horses together and take the leap into the fine art world of painting. I’ve never regretted that choice.
WS: What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
JJ: I suppose that if I had to choose an accomplishment pertaining to my fine art career that was very memorable it would be an experience that actually started when I met another volunteer at “Saddle Up!” She is a publicist by trade and passed my name along to the author of “The 80 Dollar Champion”, Elizabeth Letts. As it turned out, Elizabeth and I then worked together on developing a new oil portrait of “Snowman”(the main equine character in the book) along with Harry De Leyer (the main human character in the book, 87 years old and still living and working in Va.). “Snowman” passed away in the 1960’s. By the process of discussion and lots of input from Harry, the portrait was completed. Elizabeth, Harry and I were invited to join Rood and Riddle Veterinarian Hospital representatives at the Kentucky Horse Park in July of 2013. Dr. Tom Riddle arranged for the painting to be presented to the International Museum of the Horse in the middle of Rolex Stadium during the intermission of their Grand Prix jumping event. We were all surprised when a carriage pulled by Friesian Horses pulled up to take us into the stadium for the presentation. I am not ashamed to say that it was one of the highlights of my art career so far. It felt like a fairy tale for me and the “horse crazy girl” who still lives inside my heart. I have met and worked with many wonderful horse enthusiasts from both backyard owners to winning owners at the Rolex Kentucky 3-day event and every experience has enriched my life. This is truly my dream job.
WS: How much experience do you have being around horses?
JJ: I was one of those horse crazy kids and as any horse lover can tell you, once bitten by that bug, you are bitten for life. I rode horses throughout my childhood from about the age of 8 until I left for college at 18. My family lived near a wonderful local riding stable so I could have the opportunity to be involved with 4H and ride, care for and show horses through all of those years. The experience gave me insights into horses and horse sports that help give me a “leg up” in painting the subject.
WS: What do you hope to bring to people through your artwork?
JJ: Personally, my favorite artists, both contemporary and historical, are the artists that paint what they truly know and love. No matter the style, that love of your subject shines through and hopefully communicates that same feeling to the viewer. I am a realist painter and have grown to embrace that style over the years. I hope to bring as much joy to the viewer as I had while creating the artwork. Working on commissioned portraits of client’s horses puts both of us working from the same mindset of passion and respect for the subject. My hope being that at the end of the collaboration, they have a treasured piece of art that can be handed down for generations. As for my non-commissioned art, I only hope that I live long enough to paint all the ideas that I have swirling around in my head.