A Q&A with artist Jeaneen Barnhart

Apr 6, 2018 at 2:26 pm
Jeaneen Barnhart

Artist Jeaneen Barnhart (artsocool.com) is a Derby-time mainstay. She’s been busy lately creating images of Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown champion, and the 2018 Kentucky Derby Festival print, with her sister Doreen Barnhart DeHart. 

LEO: What type of artist are you? Jeaneen Barnhart: My primary works include finished charcoal/pastel drawings, loose oil paintings and quick studies focused on both figurative and equine anatomy, expression and passion. I create small to large scale on both paper and canvas. 

What is your earliest childhood memory that involved art? I started very young, like 3 or 4 years old … with my twin sister [Doreen Barnhart DeHart].

By the time I entered high school, I could create a portrait of someone, and it would look like a photograph — also air brushing, science fantasy on hoods and tailgates of show trucks! Explored many ways to make art using color pencils, markers, India ink, watercolor, acrylics, clay. My love for the human figure started to develop at 7 years old. I could draw fingers and toes by the time I was 9. 

Barnhart at work
Barnhart at work

Your art is strongly associated with the Kentucky Derby. What are you doing this year? This year is full of art production for several clients. Commissions, building up inventory, gallery requests, along with the launching of our new 2018 Kentucky Derby Festival Print. My sister and I will be doing a few signings in the next few weeks up until the Kentucky Derby. We are very proud to have this opportunity to represent our love for this community and the festivities celebrated with this fifth and final print! Also, most recently, I have been licensed to create an ongoing collection of drawings depicting the 1973 Triple Crown champion, Secretariat. One of those drawings has been published and sold as a limited-edition print! 

What inspires you? What inspires me the most is the response I get from my clients and supportive audience. The idea of creating something that moves anyone, whether expressing passion, pain or simple intimate gesture, can give me that extra boost of energy. Yet, after making art all these years, it’s not always so easy to approach the paper or canvas and be certain of what’s going to make me happy. My work relies on a spontaneous flow charged by determination. So, at any given moment, I must be ready. Perhaps you could easily say I am ‘on call’ to my work. 

Who are some of the artists you admire? Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, [Auguste] Rodin, Joan Mitchell, Egon Schiele and Michelangelo. 

What do you want to do that you haven't done? Drink wine in Tuscany with my family.