I’M JOANNE MEHL, A FINE ARTIST SPECIALIZING IN COMMISSIONED PORTRAITURE, FIGURE PAINTING, EQUESTRIAN SCENES, AND PLEIN AIR LANDSCAPES.
That’s probably enough but I make no promises, I’m kind of unstoppable.
Some of my accomplishments include:
- Over 120 pieces of commissioned portraiture.
- Instructor of oil painting techniques and portraiture at Portland’s Oregon Society of Artists.
- The 2013 purchase of “Keeneland Classics” by the State of Kentucky for their governor’s mansion.
- Official portraitist of 2019’s Rose Festival Queen, Portland, Oregon.
- 30 exhibitions, including 3 solo shows.
- Over 40 published works in either coffee table art books, national or regional publications, or artist interviews.
- Exhibited at Morven Park’s Museum of Hound and Hunting art show, Year of the Hound, in 2018.
- Winning Best of Show at the Oregon Society of Artists Spring, 2016 Show for “Tardy Prince”.
- Participating artist in the internationally recognized Sporting Art Auction, Keeneland, Kentucky, 2013 – present; with annual artwork sales.
- Artist-in-residence, Kentucky’s Keeneland racetrack, October, 2015.
- Purchase of “Keeneland Backstretch, 6 am” by the Keeneland Library, a global information repository dedicated to Thoroughbred horses.
- A commissioned portrait for the English Springer Field Trial Hall of Fame, 2014.
- Painting the 2007 Breeders’ Cup commemorative art for promotional uses and charity auction.
- Painting the 50 foot “Dressage at Devonwood Mural”, in Sherwood, Oregon.
- Founder of the Portland Figure Painting and Drawing Group.
- Teaching positions as adjunct faculty in illustration and drawing.
- A Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors in Illustration, from Art Center College of Design in 1983.
- An early career in commercial illustration serving a variety of multinational ad agency clientele.
- Having a great family, friends, clients and reasonably good animals underfoot.
I’ve specialized in commissioned portraiture since the mid-1980’s. I’ve had the honor of creating family heirlooms for people whom wish to create an artwork that evokes a loved one’s personality, and their relationship to that person or animal. It’s been very touching to accomplish that for clients, and it’s been inspiring to know their stories of love and affection. (For info on the work process, visit About Commissions.)
I started doing portrait work professionally because I loved it and was exceptionally well prepared for it. Perhaps this fascination with faces is rooted in our DNA. I love painting both beautiful faces, and interesting or flawed faces, because our lives are written there. I strive to portray the innocence of childhood, or the relationship between mother and child, or between child and beloved pet. I love painting them all, because life is about love and loving. Which is why portraiture brings me a deep joy.
Figure Painting and Drawing:
Figure painting is related to portraiture, but is typically done much more quickly with a live model. And unlike commissioned portraits, I simply sell these artworks via this website or other platforms. I also founded and host the Portland Figure Painter and Drawing Group, and offer instruction to interested students. I really love it.
I’m also well known for my equine work, which is a natural extension of my horse crazy youth. I’ve been horse crazy since I could form my first thought, my first word. It defies reason, but there it is.
When I was working on the mural for Devonwood Equestrian Centre, I was approached to do work for Cross Gate Gallery in Lexington, Kentucky. So I started a body of work of horse racing scenes and had my first solo show there in 2006, with the Breeders’ Cup Commemorative Art project following soon after in 2007. My seven-foot “Keeneland Classics” painting was bought by the State of Kentucky for their Governor’s Mansion, where it now hangs. Currently, I’m working on some paintings with dressage, eventing and hunter/jumper disciplines as subject matter. Which is a homecoming of sorts to the disciplines that I love and practice with my horse.
I’m currently enamored with painting plein air landscapes, which are done outside. The challenges of working in changing conditions, quickly and often publicly, is very challenging and rewarding! It’s also a welcome break from working long hours in my studio. So it’s a real joy, and also brings a whole new dimension to my travels.
My History Thingy:
In 1983 I graduated from Art Center College of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors in Illustration. I had excelled in a rigorous classical education at Art Center, which meant I’d incessantly drawn and painted from life, in all manner of media, for years. Soon thereafter, the digital revolution began to change the illustration field, and my beloved traditional skills weren’t much in demand. So after graduation I took the plunge and devoted myself to being a fine artist and painter. There were (and are) plenty of ups and downs, but my career and work has flourished (mostly) with the help of my wonderful supporters, friends and family. I also thank my great teachers, and my mother’s love and inspiration. She was a stubborn dreamer who overcame great difficulties, and gave me the strength I needed to persevere as an artist.
Way Too Personal Details:
I live in Portland, Oregon with my husband Pete, Kula our yellow lab and red heeler mix; two requisite super villain cats, and Max my thoroughbred horse. It’s a tight fit.