This month, SPICE features a lady who is a bundle of talent. Jane Goodfellow refers to herself as a ‘floating staff member’, with the ability to be a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, designer and illustrator. But Jane’s passion lies with portraits. She has built herself a reputation for being one of Cape Town’s finest in painting quality pet and person portraits. SPICE speaks to Jane about pets, portraits and her purpose in life. Here is what she had to say.

SPICE: How long have you being involved in art?
Jane: I’ve enjoyed drawing people since I was at primary school, and then after I left school I studied graphic design which requires some artistic ability, but I only started painting seriously about five years ago.

SPICE: Your paintings depict mostly animals. Why is that?
Jane: I work mainly on commissions, and people seem to love to spend money on anything related to their pets, so it’s really just been the way things have turned out. And there’s nothing that looks more peaceful than a sleeping cat! I love drawing and painting portraits of people too though, and would like to do more of these. Sadly, I usually get commissioned to paint portraits of pets that have died – the owners like to have a beautiful memento; obviously this can make it really difficult if there are no good photographs of the pet to use for reference.

SPICE: Do you make a plan to meet the person or pet you’re painting? 
Jane: Usually, if possible, I like to meet the pet/person I’m painting so I can get a good idea of their personality. Before I start painting, it also helps me to see their face from different angles in three dimensions, as the two-dimensionality of photographs has a flattening effect.

SPICE: You also paint portraits of people. Do you feel you connect personally with each person you paint a portrait of?
Jane: Oh, absolutely! The animals too. I always feel a wrench when I’ve finished a painting and have to hand it to the owner. And as I said earlier, the animals – and on one occasion the person – that I paint are often not here anymore, and a common response from my clients when they see their paintings complete for the first time is that they burst into tears, saying I’ve captured the essence of their loved one so well.
I kind of miss having the photographs around in my studio afterwards too, it feels like losing a friend, because often I’ve spent ages, even months, focusing on the person/animal, trying to understand their essence and their personality. I sometimes wonder if a bit of something psychic doesn’t come into the whole process as the connection can feel quite strong.

SPICE: You make use of ballpoint pen, watercolour and acrylic in your paintings. Which one is your favourite and why?
Jane: I can use pretty much any medium, and enjoy oils too. I guess ballpoint pen, pencil, oils and watercolours are my favourites. I started scribbling in ballpoint pen when I was at school because I always had one in my hand, and it just feels natural to me. People ask me if I’m not scared I’ll make a ‘mistake’ that I can’t erase, but as it feels like I’m scribbling anyway, mistakes don’t come into it. I guess if I thought every mark I made on the paper or canvas was important, I’d tense up and not be able to do it!

SPICE: Who do you consider as your influences?
Jane: Yikes, there are so many! Artistically I don’t draw inspiration from any particular portrait artist, but I studied art history at college, and I love the freedom of expression of the Impressionists. I enjoy Renoir, Manet, and Degas, I love Henri Rousseau’s wild, jungle-y paintings, and Matisse and Van Gogh for their disregard of convention, and then some of the earlier artists like Velasquez and Rembrandt. But I’d have to say chiefly I’m inspired by the shapes, forms and personalities of the people or animals I’m painting, and by the process itself – it’s quiet and contemplative. And of course Nature inspires me hugely.

SPICE: In your opinion, are females well represented in the art industry?
Jane: Better than we used to be, but there’s still an imbalance. Historically, work by female artists doesn’t get the same prices that male artists’ work does, and one reason I’ve read about is that the majority of art collectors, who have vast amounts of money to spend, are men, and they like to support work/artists they can identify with. So it’s really just more of a ‘boys’club’ thing. But that seems to be slowly changing.

SPICE: How has the response been to your website ‘petportraits.co.za’?
Jane: It’s only just gone live and I haven’t marketed it at all, but people who have visited it tell me it’s very user-friendly and they like it, so I’m holding thumbs! It’s been fun getting it this far though. So please take a look at it, and tell your friends about it!

SPICE: Are there any special techniques that you use that make you different from the rest?
Jane: I think the ballpoint pen is unusual and seems to surprise people. But art constantly changes; it’s so involved with one’s personal ‘journey’ and growth that I often discover new ways of doing things as I go along. Besides, I can’t share my secrets! I also enjoy painting landscapes and have recently discovered that I enjoy painting abstracts. I had great fun sloshing paint around without having to be as careful as I do when painting a portrait.

SPICE: What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Jane: It’s a double edged sword  – the best thing is probably seeing so much beauty in ordinary things, like how light falls on a cheek, or the breeze blowing the grass, and consequently I could never be bored, but I think artists sometimes have a bit of extra sensitivity, and I find mankind’s destruction of nature appalling and depressing.

SPICE is dedicated to connecting women with purpose, which is about embracing their Selfworth, Passion, Inspiration, Commitment and Edutainment. What would be your message to the women of SA in embracing their full potential?
Jane: To be proud of who they are, and not to feel they have to achieve in the same way that men do. We girls have an extra something to offer – a well-rounded approach to everything we do, enhanced by our warmth and empathy. You go, girls!

SPICE: If you could invite four people to dinner (living or dead) who would they be?
Jane: Van Gogh, in the hope that some of his crazy brilliance might rub off on me, Bill Bryson for his knowledge and wit, John Cleese (ditto) and Colbie Caillat, in the hopes she’ll sing to us! I can’t imagine a more fun evening!

SPICE: Any future plans in the pipeline?
Hopes, more than plans! I’d like to paint more portraits of people, and I’d love to visit some galleries in Europe. But unless I win the Lotto, the latter seems unlikely!

5 min with Jane
Age: somewhere between 49 and 51…
Residence: Cape Town
Favourite book: Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything.’
Favourite movie: As it is in Heaven.
Favourite music: Birdsong
Favourite animal: All of them, except maybe crocodiles.
Motto: Hmmm, how about “Life is very short, so grab it with both hands, give it a good shake, and see what happens!”

For more information, contact Jane Goodfellow on 083 656 5137 or 021 712 1043. Alternatively, drop her a email janeg@petportraits.co.za and visit the website www.petportraits.co.za

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