In 2002, Janee Hughes saw an invitation in a magazine for submissions to paint a life-size Pony, and she sent in several designs. Even though the competition was centered in Texas and the judges preferred to work with artists from the Southwest, Janee’s designs were so spectacular that she was invited to paint two life-size Ponies. The Ponies were shipped in a moving van to her home near Salem, Oregon – she had to add French doors to her studio just to get them in – and 40 hours a week, over the next seven weeks, she painted Ponies. When her Ponies were auctioned at a charitable fundraiser, her Ponies went for the top dollar: over $30,000.
Although Janee is in a class of her own when it comes to painting Ponies, her artistic abilities are multiple and varied. After graduating from Willamette University with a BA in art, for thirty years she taught art in Junior High School. She loved helping kids develop their natural talents and put their skills to use, but teaching left little time for her own work until she retired in 1997. Since then she has been painting and exhibiting – and winning awards and building a reputation.
Her paintings are usually realistic, involve animals, especially horses, and she works in pencil, pen, watercolor, acrylic and oil. Her artwork has graced the covers of numerous magazines, she has illustrated three children’s books, her cartoons have been published in newspapers, and – in her spare time – she was a lead painter on the Salem Riverfront Carousel, a hand-carved and painted carousel.
An independent, self-sufficient woman – she repairs her own car, built the barn on her property, sews her own clothes, and does everything in the fields from plowing and planting to raking and bailing – Janee says, “When it comes to art, I enjoy a challenge.” To which it could be added, she more than rises to the occasion.
Painted Pony Figurines by Janee Hughes:
Residence: Aumsville, Oregon
Biggest Artistic Influence: A professor at Willamette university – Carol Hall – who started out as a realistic painter, then discovered the virtues of abstract painting. She not only captured the spirit of the Northwest, she set an example when it came to pushing the envelope.
Favorite Song: The Sound of Music. I listen to it in the studio while I paint.
Favorite Color: Red. It’s bright and attention-getting. I use it when I want something to come forward and grab the eye.
Hero: My Dad. He was always kind and supportive, and easy to get along with.
Favorite Words of Advice: You don’t know what’s possible until you try. I used to tell that to my students all the time.