Congratulations Joana Rocha!

Joana’s pastel, titled “Aaand They’re Off!”, won first in the Professional Division in our 2022 Spring Judged Show!

She describes herself and her interest in art in the following paragraphs.

“I am a postdoctoral researcher by day and an artist by night. My three main passions in life, other than my family (including our dogs) are: Science, Art, and Horses. After a full day of doing science, I like to unwind in the evenings with a painting. I gravitate towards horses. I love everything about them. I love riding them. I love watching them. I really love painting them. I’ve lived all around the world, and I’ve seen many different amazing cultures and animals, but I always come back to the horse as my inspiration.”

Among your entries which one is your favorite and why?
“I love all the paintings I entered, but I think my favorite is “Ranch Life”. It clicks the most with me. I took the picture, on which the painting is based, at the 6666 Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. We watched real cowboys working real cows on real ranch horses. This is a glimpse of their everyday life; a picture of their horses having a well-deserved break. I like how the chestnut behind the roan is peeking over to see what I’m doing. I love the intricate tack. I love the ‘feel’ of this painting.”

How did you develop an interest in creating art?
“I’ve always enjoyed drawing, but I think the main milestone that propelled me forward as an artist happened when I was 9 or 10 when we moved from Overton, Texas to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before moving, I had asked a friend of my dad’s, who was an amazing artist, to be my pen-pal. Our deal was that with each letter we would send, a piece of art would need to be included. In the first letter I sent to Andy, I told him about our new home and my new school, and I dutifully attached my usual horse drawing, a simple line drawing. In response, Andy very kindly “critiqued” my drawing. He’d say: ‘you know that’s a really nice outline’ and ‘would you consider trying some shading?’ He gave me examples of how he used shading in his artwork. I redrew my horse and included some shading and send it back to Andy. In his next letters to me, he would suggest other techniques I could try to build on with attached examples of his own. He helped me understand how I can add texture and shading and eventually color to paper to bring the drawing to life. My world suddenly became vastly bigger with endless opportunities… To this day I still have his beautifully rendered landscapes of hay fields, pine forests, and even people. Beautiful masterpieces doodled from a simple #2 pencil or a ball point pen on ruled paper. On my best day I cannot draw as well as Andy would doodle.”

How long have you been an artist?
“According to my mom, I’ve been creating ‘art’ ever since I could hold a crayon 😊 I don’t know if selling a piece defines you as an artist but the first time I sold a painting, it made me feel recognized as a legitimate artist. The first piece I ever sold was in 2017 when a friend of mine paid me good money for a couple of portraits I painted of her horses. I was so surprised and grateful as I had originally offered to paint them for free; something I would do for all my friends. She saw enough worth in them to justify payment. Thanks to her, I began selling my art regularly in 2019.”

What does your art mean to you?
“For me, my art is an outlet, an escape. It’s a need to set what is in me free. It’s creating a moment, a feeling that I become lost in while painting. I try to bring out the soul of the animals I paint. I try to make every stroke precise. I delve attention, love, and care into each piece and therefore a part of me is in every piece. I paint for myself, I paint for fun, but I also like my art to bring joy to others. I am so flattered when someone other than me also likes my art and would consider giving it a good home.”

What inspires you?
“Life inspires me. Everything that grabs my attention and stops me doing what I was doing or thinking what I was thinking. This can be nice lighting. Or a moment captured between two animals. A moment that tells a story. A moment that gives me peace, joy, amazement. A snapshot of a life. Colors. It’s a mood that requires attention and needs to be captured. A feeling that needs to be remembered. That needs to be relived.”

What is the most rewarding part of being an artist for you?
“The most rewarding part of being an artist for me is when someone commissions a painting from me of their animal-friend who has passed. I know the love that we have for our pets, how painful it is to lose them, and how precious their memories are. In the painting, I try to bring out their soul and personality so that the essence of these animals lives on. I am grateful to those who trust me enough to immortalize their beloved in a painting. I like to think that in a small way I can help with the healing process and keep treasured memories alive.”

Whose work has influenced you most?
“There are so many wonderfully talented artists out there across so many different styles. I don’t know if I have a preferred style of art, as I appreciate them all, but the style I am most comfortable painting in, is realism. Therefore, artists that influence me the most are those who paint in this realistic style. Within these artists, those whose medium of choice is pastels and those who like to paint horses, dogs, and other animals are the ones I learn from the most. The first artist that comes to mind is of course Tim Cox. His western art is an all-time favorite of mine. I love how he captures moments and plays with lighting. His paintings leave me in awe and definitely inspire me. Another artist I admire is a very good friend of mine, Theresa Mendes, who is an exceptional equine pastel artist. Her paintings always look better than the photographs supplied by her clients, and she always has something extraordinary on her easel. There are many other wonderful artists who work in the same medium and/or with the same subjects as me that I follow: John Banovich (he’s beyond amazing), Sarah Dean (I love how she plays with lighting and color), Karen Coe, Alison Burchert, Patricia Otero, Leslie Doyle, Carol Wood, Leticia Arcique, and Linda Johnson are more of my favorites. I aspire to paint at the level of all of these artists, and every day I am learning and will forever continue to learn. I’m enjoying the journey and I look forward to admiring many more exceptional pieces of art.”

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