Custom Horse Portraits by Jessica ShashaPosted on January 22, 2018
If you haven’t noticed, I absolutely adore Dexter and treat him as my child. Over the years, I’ve started a collection of art that reminds me of him. Recently I added a custom horse vector illustration to Dexter’s feature wall, but custom horse portraits were still on my bucket list.
I didn’t have to look too far for the perfect artist. I’ve been following and ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over Jessica Shasha’s portraits of Donny for weeks!
When I spoke with Jessica, she asked for a few photos of Dexter. I actually thought I would have a hard time choosing, but as I was browsing through the thousands of photos, this one jumped out at me from my Walsh British Horse Halter review:
It wasn’t long before Jessica sent me final proofs. I was expecting one portrait, but she surprised me with two: a charcoal sketch and watercolor painting! Even though they’re of the same pose, each has a completely different look and feel. When they finally arrived on my doorstep, I practically ran to the counter and ripped open the cardboard to view the portraits. Seriously—I was blown away at how wonderful each portrait looked.
Jessica’s art reflects her level of caring, professionalism, responsiveness and most of all ability to capture the essence of Dexter. She more than exceeded my expectations. Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled with the results, and will be asking Jessica to create more custom horse portraits in the future.
I’m curious by nature, so I asked Jessica if she would agree to a short interview. I hope you find her story and process as interesting as I have.
1. Tell us about your background. How did you choose the University of Pennsylvania?
My mother is from England and My father is from Argentina. Both of those countries hold a special place in my development. It was in Argentina that I learned to ride, and in England that I learned to draw.
I would say I ended up at UPENN rather than chose it. I started my university career in Boston, but it didn’t suit me. So, after spending a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, I transferred to Philadelphia where I attended both the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania.
2. Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
Last year, when I got my first studio since university. Having a separate place to go work has been so amazing. I love my office!
3. What is your creative process like?
When working on commissions I like to talk with the client and get a sense of the subject and what they want. Next, I have them send me a few different images, and then I get to work.
4. Do you ever experience creative blocks?
No, not really. I always have so many ideas in my head. I would say if anything I have trouble sticking with one idea.
5. What is your earliest memory of creating art?
I have always been artistic. I used to make clothes for all my toys and sculpt figures out of mud. My earliest memory of more traditional artistic mediums would be when I was about 7. I was in England visiting my grandparents. We had gone to the library because it was raining. I took out a book of horse anatomy, and spent hours copying the drawings so I could understand how to draw horses. It worked!
6. How has your style changed over the years?
My work changes depending on what medium I am using. When I was in school I was really into photography and video work. Now I’m back to painting.
7. Describe your horse experience and how do you incorporate that passion into your work.
My first love was horses. I learned to ride as a small child while visiting my grandparents in Argentina. It’s very different to riding here in the States. All you have is a blanket draped over the horse’s back. You fall off again and again. They teach you to become as comfortable as you can be with horses. From then on, I was hooked!
8. Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?
9. What is your daily routine when working?
I’m a night owl. It’s one of my New Year’s resolutions to start being more productive in the mornings. With that in mind, I don’t usually get into the studio until eleven or noon. I stay there for about eight hours and then go home for dinner. If I have a lot of work on, I bring home some of the smaller pieces and work on them on the sofa with my dogs watching me.
10. Why do you love what you do?
It’s a privilege to be able to create. The older I get the more I realize that.
Thank you so much for chatting with me, Jessica!