Joanna Zeller Quentin: Equestrian Artist, Q&A

Hello friends! I am so incredibly excited to share today’s post with you, so much so that I put it together on Sunday night, which is something I never do LOL. When I was boarding at a barn in Dallas a few years ago, I had the good fortune to meet one of the most talented artists I have ever known, Joanna Zeller Quentin. Not only does she have more talent in her little finger then most have in their whole body- she is incredibly kind, funny, and an excellent horsewoman. I am beyond excited to share this Q&A with all of you, as her work is truly awe-inspiring and I have admired it for many years now. Enjoy!





Lightrider – oil on board, sold


Hi Kelly,


Thank so much for inviting me on your blog!  We’ve known each other for a few years, and I remember Rio when the two of you were just starting out!  You are still one of the most naturally soft and gifted riders I’ve ever seen.


Start by telling us a little about yourself as an artist, what kind of training did you have? What or who influences your work? What types of medium do you prefer? Where are some places that your art has been featured?  


I am an equestrian artist who produces original work, commissioned portraits and paintings, prints, and HoofPRINTS NoteCards.  My degree is in illustration from the Ringling College of Art and Design, but I’ve been drawing horses since I could hold a pencil.  I was drawn (get it?  heh) to horses long before my first riding lesson, inspired by The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, Rainbow Brite, She-Ra, the Saddle Club, etc. (The 80s were a great time for horse crazy kids!)


 There are so many artists I turn to for inspiration, both living and dead, but to my mind the finest painter of all time is Rembrandt.  I also adore the painterly brilliance of John Singer Sargent, Sir Alfred Munnings (and he did all of that with only one eye!), the German Expressionists, any of the Fauves – especially Gauguin and Rousseau, the academic masterworks of George Stubbs and Rosa Bonheur –  and the incredible line quality and graphic work of Mucha, JC Leyendecker, and John James Audubon.  Modern artists I return to are Richard Schmidt, Lyn St. Clair, Julie Chapman, Lesley Humphrey, Joanne Mehl, Mary Gilkerson, Anders Zorn, and Andre Pater.


Because my degree is in illustration, I’m comfortable working a variety of mediums, which is helpful especially for commissioned work, but my favorite mediums are oil, scratchboard, watercolor/ gouache, and mixed media.  My work has been featured on the covers and pages of the Chronicle of the Horse, Sidelines Magazine, Southwest Art, Horseback Magazine, Ex Arte Equinus, HITS Thermal and HITS Ocala, The Great Southwest Equestrian Center and others, and I’ve been fortunate to exhibit at The International Museum of the Horse, The Art Gallery at Devon, Louisiana State University, Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Art at the Classic, HTS Thermal, Ocala and Saugerties, Western States Horse Expo, Cazenovia College, Studio C Gallery, Tracy Miller, and Equis Art Gallery.  I’m also a juried member of the American Academy of Equine Art, the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, and the Institute of Equine Artists, and participate in group shows with those organizations.


Alchemy – oil on board, available


Which piece of artwork did you struggle most with, and why? How long did it take to finish?


Oh, they all spring to life like Athena fully formed from the head of Zeus.  NO!  I’m totally kidding.  There are some paintings that get started and will never – EVER – see the light of day, for a variety of reasons.  I’m actually working on a very important commission right now that’s taken me a lot longer to complete than I ever dreamed, but it’s a challenging non equine piece that’s very special to me and the client and so “there is no time limit on such things”, per my understanding patron.

Other than that, I usually tend to get to about the 85% complete point on a painting (what I jokingly refer to as “the dental hygienist” stage, as in “Why didn’t I become a dental hygienist instead?”) where nothing in the painting is working- it’s crap, I’m crap, why did I ever think I could do this art thing and how have I not been found out yet that I don’t know what I’m doing and what am I going to DO?! – and the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that I’m almost done with the bloody thing and once I stop crying and move forward, it will all fall into place and turn into a very nice piece of art!

There are a very few that seem to paint themselves, but it doesn’t usually happen that way.  Strangely, scratchboards are almost a total opposite, in that they are very zen-like and I can sit on the couch and zone out and have a lovely piece of artwork at the end.  The paintings are a very different process.


Centered- scratchboard, available


Quicksilver- scratchboard, sold



What typically inspires new work? Do you have certain works that came from specific sources of inspiration? Which ones were they?


I usually work only from my own photo reference.  I’ll take thousands of photos and sift through them, looking for something – ANYTHING- to catch my eye, whether it’s the tilt of an ear, or the fluidity of motion in an extended trot, or the color of a horse against a jump combination, or some other “something” that makes me stop and linger over the image.  A lot of times, the paintings come off that spark of inspiration.  The titles usually come to me very quickly, and I like titles that are a play on words or have some twist to them.  If I can’t come up with a title for a piece while in the initial planning stages, it will likely be a lot harder to complete or will never get off the ground.

I’ve got future paintings lined up ready to go for years from the photo reference I’ve taken.  Hunter/jumper shows, grand prix, breed shows, rodeos, racetracks, polo, dressage, reining… you name it, I’ve got photos from it.  Having said that – I’m always looking for inspiration, so if you know of any cool equine events, let me know!  Obviously, if I’m working on a commission, I’m usually using client supplied images, especially if the subject of the painting is no longer alive.


Kentucky Derby – oil on canvas, available


Hold On Tight - mixed media n board, commission, sold
Hold On Tight – mixed media n board, commission, sold



I know you have an equine best friend, tell my readers a bit about him. Are any of your pieces based on him?


I became a first time horse owner in my 30s, and, when I’m not scraping mud off his mane or bemoaning the fact that he just destroyed another blanket (that was today, btw), he’s still one of the most gorgeous horses I’ve ever seen.  He’s just a plain bay OTTB, 17.2,  built like a warmblood with legs like telephone poles, a long arching neck, and the most beautiful eyes, and I’m always filled with wonder at his inherent power and grace and oversized personality.

I tend to create art that speaks of the energy and power in the equine form, and so I guess a lot of it is inspired by him.  The only piece I’ve ever actually done of him will be featured in downtown Los Angeles this summer as part of a large scale mural project.  That’s right – Frankie’s going to Hollywood!  The original was a small painting done quickly in palette knife and sold almost immediately.


Electric is the one of Frank that’s going to LA. – oil on board, sold


Tell us a little about the processes to commission a custom work from you. What mediums do you offer? How much input do you prefer from the client? Can you give us an estimated price range for a custom work? How long does the process typically take?


There is no greater honor than being asked to create a piece of artwork for a client.  I work from pictures, and try to get as much information about the subject as possible.  Is this a backyard pet?  A champion?  A school horse?  I discuss with each client what they are trying to express about the animal.  Do they want something that shows their horse’s athleticism?  His gentle demeanor?  His impeccable breeding?  All of those things go into creating a successful portrait.  We also discuss where the painting will likely be hung for space consideration and possible color combinations.  There’s also the opportunity to talk about which medium will be best to  express what the client wants to capture.

Some pictures just naturally work better in one medium or another.  I usually offer work in oils, watercolor/ gouache, graphite, or scratchboard, and can work in either a tighter, realistic direction or a more expressionist, looser style.  I have clients who request size and styles  all over the board, and I do my best to accommodate their request.  Portraits generally start at $500 and can go up to $3500+, and I offer all kinds of creative financing, because no one should ever have to miss out on a piece of artwork that speaks to them because they don’t have the money immediately available.  Depending on my schedule, I can usually deliver most artwork within 3-6 months.  (I also offer gift certificates, which is a great option if you’d like to present someone with a portrait but don’t have the photo reference or aren’t exactly sure what they’d like.)


Hot Shot, oil on canvas, commission, sold


Momentum, watercolor on board, Joanna Zeller Quentin
Momentum, watercolor on board, commission, sold


Anything else you want the readers to know? What are some upcoming events you will be at, or where you art will be displayed?
There are a lot of really exciting things on the horizon, but right now I’m preparing for the American Academy of Equine Art’s Spring Exhibition, the supremely cool Art Gallery at Devon Horse Show in May, sending some new work off the Equis Art Gallery in NY (who represents me), working with my new artist rep Kayce Douglass in Colorado, launching a new series of mixed media oils and gold/ silver/ copper leaf on panel (so much fun!), finishing up a few commissions, and preparing work for upcoming shows.


Blazing, oil and metal on canvas, joanna zeller quentin
Blazing, oil and metal on canvas, available
Leap of Faith, oil on canvas, joanna zeller quentin
Leap of Faith, oil on canvas, sold


Thanks so much for having me, and if you or your readers have any questions or would like to see more work, I’m always available through my website at, via email at, on fb ( and instagram  @MoosePantsStudio_equineartist.
Joanna Zeller Quentin and her mighty steed Frankie
Joanna Zeller Quentin and her mighty steed Frankie

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    1. Agreed! I swear I’m going to get one of Rio today too- even if I have to save pennies to be able to afford it!

  1. so interesting to read all that thank you for sharing. I always wanted to be creative (Artistic wise at least LOL) and never have been. I love reading about people who are. The work is GORGEOUS!! WOW.

    If I am still here in May will have to get to Devon to see her work in person! How cool! thanks again!!

    1. Welcome! I have known Jo for many years, and I loved hearing more about her work too. She really is an incredible talent, I feel lucky to “know” her lol!!! If you go to Devon- definitely take pictures!

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