By Taylor Renner
Janet Crawford Hicks has been passionate about art and horses for as long as she can remember. The New England equine artist, based in Massachusetts, focuses on classic portraiture of horses and dogs depicting the equestrian lifestyle as well as portraying candid moments that capture the true nature of the horse in her popular oil paintings.
Since receiving her bachelor of fine arts with a concentration in painting from Rhode Island College in 1991, Janet has been recognized for her talents by many organizations and has won multiple awards including the Special Talent Award from Rhode Island College, Horse World Magazine’s Morgan Artist of the Year and the National Distinguished Service Award from the American Hackney Horse Society along with having her work featured on a number of magazine covers and show programs.
Sidelines Magazine caught up with this accomplished artist to learn more about her artwork and equestrian background.
Sidelines: When did you realize your talents as an artist?
Janet Crawford: I’ve been drawing and painting my whole life, really. I took lessons as a child and went to college for it and then right after college started painting professionally. I always knew that I’d go into painting horses. Even in grammar school I knew that would be my choice for a career; it was just something that came naturally. It’s always been my passion. When I was a kid taking lessons they’d force me to paint other things and I’d always come back to painting horses or dogs.
Sidelines: What is your background with horses?
JC: My husband, Rodney Hicks, and I have Hackney ponies that we raise and show. He has a public training stable called Rodney Hicks Stable in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. As a child, I just had pet ponies. Rodney has trained other breeds — Morgans and Saddlebreds — and is a judge in all of those breeds but at this time we primarily have Hackney ponies including the World Champion Hackney.
Sidelines: What helped jump-start your career as an artist?
JC: Right after college I set up and displayed my artwork at a local horse show (UPHA Chapter 14 in West Springfield, Massachusetts) and I got my first commission there. So right away it just began. I’m very lucky to have such loyal clients — painting all the different horses they’ve had over the years — and of course I always enjoy meeting new clients as well. I started off painting the more animated breeds, Saddlebreds, Morgans and Hackneys, but I’ve done a lot of the hunter/jumpers over the years. Once I started setting up with VanderMoore Designs, Inc., who represent artwork on the hunter show circuits, I started painting a lot more of the hunter/jumpers.
Sidelines: What other subjects do you paint?
JC: Pretty much any animal. Lately there have been more interesting requests for cat paintings and I’ve done some chickens. But I mostly do horses and dogs.
Sidelines: Do you have a favorite painting that you’ve done?
JC: One of my favorites is a painting called “Silhouette” that was taken at the in-gate at the equitation finals at the Big E grounds [Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts] many years ago. That one sold out of print edition and has always been popular. In any job you know when things go right and that one — things just went right and fell together. Sometimes when I look at older work, I see things that I’d do differently — that one I’d leave just the way it is.
Sidelines: What are some of your accomplishments that you’re most proud of as an artist?
JC: I’m very proud of the work that I do with the American Hackney Horse Society. Most recently I updated their logo, and every time I see that displayed I’m very proud and happy to have done that. I’m also very proud of the work that I’ve done for the Berkshire Carousel. I designed two carousel horses, the American Saddlebred and the Hackney, and then I worked on three others. The Berkshire Carousel was created by over 200 volunteer artists and is set to open later this year.
Sidelines: Where is your art showcased?
JC: Right now I have my work in Spa Fine Art Gallery in Saratoga Springs, New York, which has led to me doing some more work depicting Thoroughbreds and horse racing. I painted the American Thoroughbred racehorse Mineshaft as a portrait commission years ago but I’m just now getting more into the Thoroughbred work through being in that gallery. VanderMoore Designs, Inc. from Tennessee have also represented my work for years on the A circuit — booking commissions and selling originals. I also have my work in a gallery called The Equestrian Collection in Somers, Connecticut.
Sidelines: What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not painting?
JC: I’m an amateur exhibitor with our Hackney ponies. Last year I won my first World Championship with a great pony called Four Point 0. He was the World Champion in the Junior Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving class at the World’s Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Kentucky. My son shows as well so even though it’s my husband’s job, it’s our hobby. Pretty much everything revolves around the ponies. And I raise Corgis as well!
Sidelines: What does the rest of 2015 hold for The Fine Art of Janet Crawford?
JC: I’ll be preparing some Thoroughbred work for the July meet up at Saratoga Springs, New York. I’ve also already booked a few portraits for the year and then I just have the usual show circuit with VanderMoore Designs, Inc.
To purchase one of Janet’s paintings, contact a gallery or Janet Crawford directly. Visit her website for more information: www.equineartwork.com.
About the writer: Taylor Renner graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.S.A. in agricultural communication and a minor in animal science in 2015. She’s ridden and shown in the hunter/jumper and equitation discipline for 12 years and is an avid photographer and writing enthusiast. She hopes to combine her love of horses and journalism into a lifelong career within the equine publishing industry.
Photos courtesy of Janet Crawford