Equestrian artist Jen Brandon, who is the artist behind this year’s Hampton Classic poster, grew up on a horse farm amidst rolling hills in Pennsylvania. “I raised horses for pleasure riding rather than competition.” She was drawn into the arts at a young age and began drawing and painting her most inspiring subject. But it wasn’t necessarily easy to capture equine beauty. “It’s taken years and years to understand their basic anatomy, grace, elegance and power.”
The horse in motion is her signature. “Oil lends itself to expressing motion. A photo takes a clip of a moment that’s rather still but with applying the oils and large brush strokes you can convey the movement.” She applies the paint “actively” weeding out “unnecessary elements.” For example, a harness could take away from the focus of the painting. “The light and shadow has a great way of expressing the form and motion.”
Her legions of global collectors remark that “a divine light shines through her works,” that “they pulsate with an inner glow as if the subjects are alive,” portraying “an energy and intimacy seldom experienced in traditional paintings.” As one fan remarked: “You can almost feel the animal’s heart beating.”
Feeling a special kinship with the animal kingdom, Brandon renders all sorts of animal portraiture. While best known for her equestrian work, she also specializes in painting dogs. “I try to portray the tender loyalty in a dog’s eyes or even the quirky expressions of a cow.” Her pet portraits are mostly commissioned but she also sells original works portraying the four-legged creatures. This is no surprise considering that her mother is also a painter and her father was an animal lover. “I got both in my genes.”
Influenced by Wyeth’s early color sensibilities, “I feel that my sprawling, graphic strokes capture the mind’s imagination in a dreamlike space, a spirited fusion between reality and ephemeral fantasy.” Her poster for the Hampton Classic is a 24” x 24” oil on canvas of a horse and rider called A Splash of Red.
Demand for her work is enormous. She shows regularly at shows and venues including Wellington, Palm Beach, Longines Masters, Winter Equestrian Festival, Saratoga Saddlery, Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley Race Course and, of course, Hampton Classic where she will have a space in the marketplace this year as she has done for the past seven years.
Her mission to share the wonders of wildlife is not confined to the canvas. She also supports charities such as the Humane Society International, the Seraphim Foundation, Everhart museum, the Countryside Conservancy and the YMCA.
At the moment, she has no horses of her own. She makes do with a pair of Great Danes, which she and her husband, Jared, take along on climbing or fishing expeditions. “My dream horse would be a Friesian.”