Articles about artist J. M. Thieme:
"Art for Life" by Aldene Fredenburg, Connection, December '09
"Art Teacher Turned Professional Artist" by Brittany Bevis, The Equine Chronicle, Jan/Feb '10

Artist Jeanne Maguire Thieme Draws Inspiration from her Surroundings. Horses captured in full gallop, riotous floral studies, colorful, impressionist landscapes--all these subjects spring from the inspiration provided to the artist by her local environment.

Jeanne Maguire Thieme believes in painting her passion, and more and more those passions are focused on her lifelong love for horses and a growing appreciation for the natural rural beauty of her chosen hometown of Swanzey, New Hampshire. Thieme paints quickly, often "en plein air"--outdoors, from life--preferring to express her feelings and impressions of a subject rather than executing an exact rendering; the resulting spontaneity belies the tremendous skill this veteran artist possesses. Underneath the abundant and seemingly chaotic expression of nature is tremendous control: every color evokes a response; every brush stroke counts.

Over the years she has moved from being primarily a watercolorist to being accomplished in both watercolor and oils, this in large because of a request about four years ago from Noroton Gallery in Darien, Connecticut, for renderings of horses in oil. Her passion for horses has also taken her into the realm of thoroughbred racing--many of her paintings portray scenes from the Saratoga Racetrack, and a number of her horse paintings hang in a gallery in the town of Saratoga, New York--and into the world of polo and polo ponies.

Thieme's perspective on horses comes from an intimate knowledge of the animals. She owns horses, regularly rides forested area trails with them, and has a strong bond with her animals. She is able to sense how they are feeling, and expresses this understanding in her art. Rather than trying to achieve perfection in painting a horse's anatomy, "I try to paint the energy of the horse, its personality, power and grace," she said. She succeeds remarkably; many of her paintings look as if the horses are about to gallop right off the canvas.

Her trail riding and her participation in two Swanzey groups, the Swanzey Open Space Committee and the Swanzey Planning Board, have pulled her steadily into another passion--expressing the natural beauty of this rural community. "The Swanzey Open Space Committee works hand in hand with the Planning Board to make sure that development -which we need- happens in places and in ways that do not negatively impact the rural character of the town." In riding the many trails that wind through Swanzey and in her travel for the Open Space Committee and the Planning Board, Thieme has discovered various parts of Swanzey--her own East Swanzey, Swanzey Center,Westport Village and West Swanzey, all with their own unique character--as well as endless inspiration for her art, which recently found its expression in a special exhibit at her home studio in October. Her exhibit, "Swanzey Special Places," was part of the Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour which takes place every fall in the Monadnock Region.Thieme donated 15 percent of the proceeds of the exhibit to the Swanzey Open Space Committee. The Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour is an annual event and represents 16 artists who work together to put on the tour.

From Teacher to Artist

Thieme laughingly describes herself as a "flatlander." She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Southern Connecticut State College, then worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for a Connecticut firm before moving to the region almost thirty years ago. She was a teacher in the Fine Arts Department at Keene High School for 12 years, serving as the department head in her final year before leaving 10 years ago, at the peak of her career, to devote herself to her art fulltime. It was a gutsy move.

"At the beginning I entered a lot of juried fine art exhibits in Connecticut, New York, Maine, Massachusetts--all over New England--just to get my work out there, to find out, is it good, how does it compare to the work of other artists?" Thieme said. The first five years involved hard work learning how to market herself, how to price her work, how to present it. She learned small but important details like how best to frame and mat her work. "It's been great; I've learned a lot." Her work appears in a number of galleries, including the aforementioned Noroton Gallery in Connecticut and the one in Saratoga, and is soon going to be included at a gallery in California. The Harriman Cup Polo Championship, which pits alumni of the University of Virginia and Yale against each other in a tournament, included an art exhibit that featured work by Thieme, and Virginia Polo magazine is slated to feature Thieme's polo paintings in a 2010 issue. Thieme has received numerous awards for her art.

The Artist as Teacher

Thieme prefers to identify herself as an artist who sometimes teaches rather than a teacher who also does art, and confines herself to teaching very few classes, primarily a watercolor course at MoCo Arts in Keene. In spite of that, the teacher is never very far away; advice spills out of her as she talks about her art and that of her students.

"Students can get frustrated because I don't teach a step-by-step process; I teach basic techniques, but after that it's about painting. You have to pick up the brush and paint, and push yourself out of your comfort zone." She emphasizes that technique can just take you so far. "I tell my students, 'You reach a point in the painting where you put aside the photo or reference and read the painting itself. What does the painting need?' There needs to be a dialogue between artist and painting."

Fear is a big factor, Thieme says, in learning to paint. Students are afraid to experiment, afraid of ruining their work. "That's the kiss of death. I tell my students, it could be an okay painting or a spectacular painting; which do you want?"

The most important thing, according to Thieme, is to paint your passion. "What is the subject that excites you? I find that if you paint your passion, that is when you get a product that is expressive and truly expresses who you are as an artist."

Challenging Her Comfort Zone

Thieme is pushing herself beyond her own comfort zone these days, experimenting with new techniques in both watercolor and oil, deepening her understanding of tonal values, exploring layering techniques. She likens painting and creativity to peeling layers of an onion, discovering what is beneath. "I am more involved with portraying the energy of a subject; that is where I'm at right now." If her current level of skill and expressiveness is any harbinger of the creativity to come, her evolution from this point on will be an exciting thing for her and a fascinating journey to watch.

Awards and Distinctions

  • EquiFair, Woodstock, Vermont--First Place in Painting
  • Trumbull Arts Festival, Trumbull, Connecticut--Best in Show
  • Matoon Arts Festival--Springfield, Massachusetts--First Place Painting
  • Keene, New Hampshire Art in the Park--First Place Watercolor
  • Andover, Massachusetts Art in the Park--First Place Painting
  • People's Choice Award for The Palette Project in Woodstock, Vermont
  • Gala Fine Art Exhibit--Gardner, Massachusetts Second Place Oil
  • Gala Fine Art Exhibit--Gardner, Massachusetts First Place Watercolor
  • Trumbull Fine Arts Festival--Trumbull, Connecticut --First Place Oil
  • New Jersey Equine National Exhibit--60 pieces accepted nationally
  • Honorable Mention for Oil--Keene, New Hampshire Art in the Park
  • Oil painting selected for marketing the Palettes of Vermont project poster sponsored by the Vermont Arts Council


Jeanne Maguire Thieme Fine Art
Pipe Dream Studio
30 Hale Hill Road
Swanzey, New Hampshire 03446

Images in order of presentation:
Power Surge
Girl Talk
Swanzey Secrets
Saratoga Hopeful II
Monadnock from Cobble Hill 3