Little Shop of Horses
About the Little Shop of Horses
This Little Shop of Horses' site is dedicated to showing the equine fine art of Jean Haines, sharing her art tour schedules, selling her art on-line, and gathering new prospective art enthusiasts.
Artist's Biography [Version: 01/30/07]
Equine artist Jean Haines is a native of Kingston NY, and has studied, drawn, painted, photographed and sculpted horses since earliest memory. She has a BFA in painting from SUNY New Paltz, which she attended from 1984-89, and has exhibited extensively in Kingston and the surrounding area. In February 1995, she became a board member of then newly-founded A.S.K. (Arts Society of Kingston). She has been Assistant Manager of the Coffey Gallery in Uptown Kingston since early 1995. In 1996, she became a member of the Horse Artists Association (HAA), based in Tucson AZ, with a limited membership of 25 equine artists nationwide. She has shown her art with them in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and California until the group amicably disbanded in 2004.
Although striving for a realistic, Norman Rockwell-like artistic style since childhood, over the past several years her paintings have evolved into an individual and linear, colorful, swirly and semi-abstract style, which sometimes unintentionally resembles stained glass, but almost always contains a recognizable horse image. She now works purely from imagination, made possible by a lifelong observation of horses. The knowledge and love of horse anatomy and psychology allows her to exaggerate animal proportions, color, and motion in a graceful and energetic style. Her main medium is oil paint on canvas or paper, but she also portrays horses in drawing, clay sculpture, and photography. She repairs plastic model horses and makes detailed ornate miniature bridles for them. Not all her creations involve horses; she also does illustration, basic carpentry, mosaics, jewelry design & beadery repair, and fashion design, sewing and tailoring.
It's impossible for me to think of horses and art as being two separate things in my life. I've drawn, read about, photographed, and associated with horses since earliest memory. I've always felt that depicting horses in art is what I was meant to do. It's what I love doing, and what I do best. By age 4 or 5, I could draw a horse fairly accurately from imagination. Throughout childhood and high school, I was striving to draw perfectly proportioned and realistically rendered horses. I wasn't always successful, but that's how I learned.
Around 1989-1990, my horses slowly became more stylized, swirly, brightly colored, semi-abstract, and leaping around in exaggerated poses that real horses cannot do. I don't know why this unintentional style change occurred, but the process took years and is still evolving. I was not bored with depicting horses realistically, but it was the continued fascination and accumulated knowledge of horse anatomy and psychology that allowed me to exaggerate them. It became a very personal, yet unconscious thing to represent the horse differently from how it had been depicted in art throughout history. I still don't fully understand my own horse/art fascination, even though I've lived it all my life. It's not completely about horses anymore, though. The fun of painting and sculpting sneaked in. It's fun to get absorbed in the endless possibilities of how it might turn out. I believe there is no wrong path to any destination (in this case, to a finished painting). Sometimes it's frustrating when something doesn't look fully appealing, or when the endless possibilities of a creation are overwhelming, but I've grown to trust these tangents as a learning experience, and trust that the final work will feel complete.
I almost never plan or sketch a painting first, but start with random abstract scribbles, adding areas of color between the lines. Eventually, a horse-like gesture or body part will suggest itself in the abstraction, which I gradually develop into a more recognizable horse form. The surface builds up in translucent webbed layers which makes the process and finished work more interesting. I sometimes feel my process is like a 3-D weaving of music: many notes of varying color and volume mesh together to form a pleasing orchetrated piece. One large painting can take months to complete. I often work on several paintings at once, and wish I could see my work as an outsider viewing it for the first time because they find hidden pictures that I don't see. Occasionally, I will do a realistic commissioned horse or dog portrait, but generally I feel that a well-done quick sketch of anything usually has more life, essence and character than the same subject done in great detail. Sometimes I have an idea for a painting based on a small sketch, but it soon takes on a life of its own. The paintings are always photographed in progress; if an interesting abstract area is later painted over, it's not forgotten. Viewers understand the process better if they see the pictures lined up in time-lapsed consecutive order.
I don't know why I love horses. I was probably a horse in a previous life, or will be in a future one. People sometimes remark, "You must dream about horses." Surprisingly little; maybe because it's all "out there," not suppressed. To me, horses represent loyalty, strength, grace, energy, curiosity, being sensible, and instinctively finding one's way home - hence the expression "horse sense." They're also playful without knowing their own strength - as in "horse play" and "horsing around." They have strong kinship among themselves and with their environment, so I subconsciously portray them in pairs, small groups, or integrated with sky, foliage, or abstract colorful air currents.
Salesmanship is not my strongest skill, and selling art is not the reason I create it, but it's nice to make some income from what you love to do. I have faith that if I keep creating horses the way I love to, that others will love it too, and the work will sell itself; all I need to do is keep producing it. One of my goals is to improve communication and understanding between artists and non-artists. We need art, because everything is art when you really think about it: Designing and building houses, furniture, cars, gardens, everything we use, as well as the obvious arts: visual, literary, musical, performing, acting, etc. The skill, knowledge and experience to do anything well is also an art. Artists cannot live on compliments alone, so the next best thing anyone can do is invest in an art object or see a performance, which allows artists to continue doing what they love, while the art appreciator is privileged to live with an image they love, or have a nice memory of a performing art they attended. Even if art seems to be a "luxury item" or "non-functional," it still serves the function of being appreciated, making people feel good, evoking some emotion, and maybe inspiring a non-artist to be creative. Art can give at-risk people something good to do, while also being therapeutic and self-esteem building. I think these are steps to better understanding and a better world.
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