After years of spending her days looking after competition horses as a barn manager, Jenai Davis transitioned into the world of equine art with a flair. Using traditional oils, pastels and a hint of charcoal, Jenai paints glorious art that draws you in (pun not intended) letting you see the powerful energy of the horse. It’s no wonder her art won Art Of The Horse‘s Banner Contest for this month (September 2017)!
“My work with these amazing creatures truly changed my life. They have an astounding ability to teach you a lot about yourself and life if you allow it. As Rumi said, “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” I want to share this voice through my art.”-Jenai Davis
Currently living in Tennessee, Jenai was raised in in a small town in Washington state with horses and art surrounding her. “My two best friends had horses and we would ride all day as many days as we could. Thank goodness. There really wasn’t much else to do except get in to trouble. I was in love with them and couldn’t get enough. I still remember their names. Babe and Black. Can’t think of a better early childhood.”
Her start in art came early, when Jenai start playing around with pastels that her teacher gave her. When she was 12 years old, she created her first commission piece of a horse. Her interest in art and music led he to the University of Utah, where she started to pursue her music career on an international scale. She spent time touring in Europe and the US, as well as writing songs for famous singers like Sarah Evans, Martina McBride, and others. Years later, she was brought back to the days of horses and ponies when her daughter took an interest in riding, which ended up changing Jenai’s life forever. What started as casually helping out the barns trainer, turned into becoming the manager of a barn full of sport horses. After that, she worked for an equine pharmaceutical and nutrition company, traveling the west cost and southeast to horse shows, reminiscent of her touring days.
“It was an amazing experience getting to watch and be around the most amazing riders and horses in the world. It was truly a pivotal moment in time…. moving me to focus on art again and essentially defining my soul and the soul of my artwork.”
Today, Jenai lives in Tennessee on her farm with her husband, ponies and other animals while working full time on her art. Her consistent use of oils and pastels make her a master in the mediums, using her skill to create dramatic scenes out of mostly natural colors and to add a touch of magic to the highlights of the painting.
TFS: How long have you been an equine artist?
JD: I suppose I have been an Equine artist for most of my life but didn’t know it! LOL! My first commissioned work was of a horse at the age of 12. In college and for several years after…..I gravitated toward drawings and paintings of people and still life. I adore the human face, the lines, the eyes, the emotion. I still love it and draw and paint people occasionally to this day. But one day…..about 7 or 8 years ago, I got a wild hair to paint a horse. I had a vision in my mind that came to me. It was a large piece….and…..it just fell out so natural, so instinctive. I felt one with it, a peaceful zen. It was then that I decided that being an equine artist is what I wanted to do and was supposed to do.
TFS: What inspires and motivates you?
JD: I am blessed and inspired daily by my own animals and horses and the relationships and bonds that not only do I have with them but also the amazing relationships and bonds they have with each other. It’s “everybody love everybody” around here and we have quite the brood! I am also hugely inspired by competition horses and their riders. I am always in awe watching them work together. It’s simply magical. I also am inspired and motivated by other artists and their work.
TFS: What mediums do you work in?
JD: I mainly work in oils, but also pastels and charcoal, and occasionally acrylics.
TFS: Are there an mediums that you would like to work in, but haven’t yet?
JD: Although I am constantly reading, constantly learning, constantly fascinated and gleaning from other artists about other mediums, I haven’t felt the urge yet to venture in to any others past what I do. I am certain I will though at some point when eventually the spark finds me.
TFS: Is you family involved in horses or art?
JD: My mother is an artist. Brilliant at watercolors! She has some works that are masterpieces in my eyes. That medium has always eluded me. I highly respect artists who are good at watercolors. We have owned horses for many years now. We currently have two retired ponies. One is a one-eyed mini! His name is Fred and quite the little character. 🙂
TFS: What is your favorite thing about the art you do?
JD: All of it!! Ha! No. It’s true. I love all aspects, every step of the process of my work equally. Each step has it’s own reward and payoff. I also very much enjoy helping other artists. It makes me happy when people ask questions or seek advice. I am always glad to help.
TFS: What’s a typical day in your studio like?
JD: Must start with COFFEE!! And lots of it! I usually then spend a good couple hours or more sometimes on social media and email answering questions, responding to comments, helping others with advice, organizing my posts, watermarking my works, getting back with clients/potential clients etc. Business stuff! I then get to work. Must have music, typically Soul or R & B…..paint, paint, paint, stare, stare, paint, stare, take a break, stare, paint some more, break, stare again. And that process repeats itself over and over until the end of the day and then I’m back on social media again catching up to all that crazy business!! Oh….and then I might fit eating in there somewhere too…maybe. 🙂
TFS: How do you start a painting? JD: Well…..I am a thinker, a planner and a schemer. I have many ideas in my brain that I mull over, visualize and plan my approach for months sometimes before I sit down to put it to canvas. Depending on the complexity of the work or the size, I might do a smaller composite sketch. Most of time though, after I’ve decided the size and have the canvas prepped….I go straight to sketching on the canvas with a real light graphite. These sketches are real basic….just simply focusing on form and proportion and shapes. Then I move on to the most important and integral part for me which is the underpainting, blocking in my values, highly focusing on the darks. I find that by doing this……the lighter values become easy and take care of themselves.
TFS: Any current works in progress?
JD: I ALWAYS have WIP’s and usually many. I currently have four pieces in the works. I like to move around a lot…..let them marinate awhile in between. Some marinate longer than others, but this allows me to look on them again with a fresh mind and fresh eyes.
TFS: Do you sell prints?
JD: I am planning on selling prints of a limited number of my works very soon. Currently working on that.
TFS: How would someone go about commissioning you to create a painting?
JD: They would simply need to contact me either by PM/DM on Facebook or Instagram or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would then send them a detailed commission process sheet as well as pricing information and examples of my work if needed.
TFS: How would you describe your art style?
JD: Tough question!! It’s simply my style?? LOL! I certainly don’t have any “style” intention. I am however, purposeful about being extremely simple or void of any backgrounds in my work. My aim is to point the viewer to focus on first and foremost the soul, the perceived voice, and the natural beauty and perfection of these amazing creatures by using colors and lighting and emphasis on form.
TFS: Have you ever taken lessons from another artist or gone to art school?
JD: I took art classes all throughout high school and studied art in college at the University of Utah. Art was my secondary. My major was music. I have many artist friends who I have learned from along the way and continue to do so.
TFS: Any future shows/exhibits?
JD: I am currently working toward a solo exhibition in the late fall, early winter. I am putting all my efforts into that as well as entering juried shows in the coming year. I am super excited about all things to come but right now am highly focusing on my works at hand.
TFS: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
JD: If I was not in a creative field, I would most likely be a Vet. I am highly passionate about animals and their well being and find myself being drawn to and educating myself on veterinary care and medicine. I have many Equine Veterinarian friends. I’m always asking questions, trying to stay informed, and educated, trying to to be the best animal caretaker I can be.
TFS: Do you ride horses?
JD: Yes. Now and then. But I don’t consider myself a rider. A horse person yes. A true rider. No.
TFS: What have been your biggest challenge so far in your art career? JD:
Time. Always Time. There is never enough.
TFS: What has been your greatest success so far in your art career?
JD: Awesome question and I didn’t have think very hard on this one!!! LOL! My greatest success and achievement is narrowed down to simply a couple comments that I received from viewers. One viewer said, “I was never interested in or cared for horses until I saw your art.” Another viewer said about a particular piece, “The question, the mystery, the melancholy portrayed here…….Congratulations. You are a true artist.” I get a bit teary eyed still over that one. Mmmmm….yes. Those comments I will always hold dear. I did my job and did it well. That’s what it’s all about. Better than any money or award.
TFS: Any advice to other artists?
JD: Yes. Here is what I always say…”Always consider yourself a beginner, for then you will never feel the need to compare. ” Considering yourself as a beginner always leaves your heart and mind open to learning from others rather than comparing. Constantly comparing leads to negativity and downfall. Learning leads to growth and achievement. Also……just do what do and do what you love.
TFS: Where can people find your art?
JD: Folks can find my art on Instagram and Facebook for the time being. Thinking about a website….but these two entities seem to be working just fine for me right now. My Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/jenai.davisequineartist My Instagram is: https://www.instagram.com/jenaisequines
Thank you for answering my questions, Jenai! And congrats on winning the Banner Contest 😉