A Q&A with equine artist Jaime Corum

Equine artist Jaime Corum (jaimecorumequineart.com) is busy this time of year. LEO Weekly has made her even busier by asking if she would do this Q&A and lend her art for our April 25 Derby issue cover. We’re happy she complied. 

LEO: What type of artist are you?
Jaime Corum: I am primarily an oil painter, but I also use other 2-D media like charcoal and pastel. I consider myself an equine artist, since my subject is almost exclusively the horse. I started drawing horses around the age of 7. To this day, horses have never ceased to inspire me as an artist. My style is fairly realistic, and I am most in my comfort zone with detail work like the delicate structure of the eye or the small metal forms on bridle and halter. But at the same time, I love to work large with my equine subject, capturing the horse’s power and muscle mass. My largest canvas to date is a life-sized horse portrait of the great race mare Zenyatta. Using her exact measurements, the full canvas ultimately measured seven feet tall by 12 feet wide.  

Though I am very much a realist painter, I want my work to be more than that  — more than just the accurately painted horse. My hope is that I can show something deeper than just the surface. I try very hard to capture the individual horse’s spirit and character, as well as speak to the cultural connection between horse and human. For me, those connections and emotions run deep and have strong symbolic power.

Please explain your artistic process.
My process varies depending on whether I am creating a commissioned portrait, or a work just for myself. But for both, being around my subject, watching the movement, expression and structure of the horse is the starting point of all my equine work. This gives me ideas on how to compose a work. If I see a horse doing something gorgeous or interesting in life, I may decide to use this in a painting. Often, I will do sketches, then take source photos, then refine sketches and composition ideas in photoshop before I go to the actual canvas. I love to paint on different surfaces sometimes too, like wood or gold enamel, so I play out the possibilities of how a subject might look on various grounds before I start. After the composition is sketched on the canvas (or other surface), I paint in layers from underpainting through to top layers of thin color glazes.  I love the way that a color glaze can add so much depth to the color in a horse’s coat; it can get close to that iridescent shine you see in real life. When finished, I often have around five layers of subtle changes in the areas of highest detail. But not always; sometimes the first layer is the best and I have to hold myself back from messing with it.  

“The Flirt” by Jaime Corum

Your art is strongly associated with Derby and horses. What are you doing this year?
I am in two shows here in Louisville centered around Derby. One is ‘Poetry in Motion’ which just opened at The Gallery at The Brown. It’s a two-person show featuring my work with Richard Sullivan’s. The show is all equine art, but our styles are very different and combine in a very interesting way. That show runs through [July 1]. The second show I’m part of is called ‘My Derby Little Secret,’ a group show at Kentucky Fine Art Gallery featuring my work along with works by David Schuster, Susan Hackworth, Bob Halliday and Greta Mattingly. That show runs through May 31. I’m also working on portraits of American Pharoah and Secretariat for the Keeneland Sporting Art Auction. 

What’s on your art bucket list?
I would love to be able to do a truly monumental work — an equine art landmark for the state of Kentucky. This could take the form of a mural or even a multimedia installation. I have several ideas taking shape. I want to take more workshops from artists I adore. On the flip side. I want to begin hosting art workshops on my family’s farm in Southeast Kentucky. Getting that dream call from Her Majesty The Queen herself to paint her latest Epsom Derby winner. But seriously, I would love to travel more to great horse racing centers around the world in England, Ireland, Japan and Australia to paint commissioned portraits. 

What is something most people do not know about you?
I grew up a bit of a tomboy on a tree farm in the mountains of Kentucky. That place still has a big piece of my heart. It’s where my wild side comes from. I love my home state of Kentucky! I feel so lucky to live in the horse capital of the world, especially around this time of year. For me, there is no better place. I feel like we have the triple crown of horse destinations in our state with Churchill Downs, Keeneland and the Kentucky Horse Park. All those places have had a major impact on me and my art.  Also, I would love to give a shout out to my home stable, Spring Run Farm. That’s the place where I have ridden for over 30 years and where I conduct the majority of my artistic research.

About the Author

A Q&A with equine artist Jaime Corum

Jo Anne Triplett is the contributing visual arts editor at LEO Weekly. She’s a past member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art, was the content advisor on the Glassworks Building video, and has written for Louisville Magazine, Kentucky Homes and Gardens and the national publication Glass Craftsman. Jo Anne came to Louisville from Washington, D.C. where she worked as a researcher and writer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.



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