The following article appeared in the magazine ‘Cats Life’ in January 2005
JANE’S CATS AND HER PASSION FOR ART
Catslife recently interviewed artist Jane Goodfellow about her passion for felines, her expressive art and her feelings about animals in general.
Catslife: What is your inspiration for being an artist, especially focusing on your animal art?
Jane: I have always been nuts about animals, and I derive great pleasure from depicting them in my art, trying to make the connection I feel with them and the pleasure I get from them apparent to other people. It’s somehow a sharing and a celebration of their wonderful qualities.
Catslife: When did you first realise that you had this artistic talent?
Jane: I have been drawing since I was a child, and sometimes got into trouble at school for drawing portraits in my exercise books instead of concentrating on my lessons! I have always drawn the family pets, but regrettably most of those early drawings have been lost.
Catslife: What was the first animal painting you completed, and why that animal?
Jane: I painted naive pictures of our cats as a child, but the first animal portrait I did as an adult was of my beautiful and much loved dog Cindy. I had to have her put to sleep, and painting her in my heartbroken state was somehow cathartic. It sounds weird, but I suppose in a way it gave her a new and more permanent reality in a different form.
Catslife: Did you grow up with animals in your life?
Jane: Yes, we always had cats (strays which I ‘encouraged’ my parents to adopt!), a couple of budgies and at one stage two white rats called Miny and Mo. I also often had little creatures I was trying to rescue, with varying amounts of success. Usually my enthusiasm unfortunately outweighed my skill, but my intentions were always good. When I left school, because of my love of animals I initially started studying to be a veterinary surgeon, but was too restless and creative to spend hours sitting still, studying. So I switched courses to art, much to my father’s disappointment!
Catslife: What animal do you think you most resemble in personality and character?
Jane: Wow, that’s a tricky one I have never considered! I can probably find qualities of many animals in myself. I certainly relate to the sensuousness of cats, their absolute abandonment to pleasure when finding a soft place with a ray of warm sunshine! I can also relate to their indifference to mundane matters that don’t concern them – life’s too short to worry about unimportant things!
Catslife: How many pets do you have, what are their names, genders and ages?
Jane: Sadly, at the moment I don’t have any. Since losing Cindy, my life has been rather nomadic, and I haven’t felt settled enough to be able to give an animal a secure home. I have always been somewhat of a ‘gypsy’ in the sense of enjoying moving home, and my cats and dogs of necessity had to put up with many
moves, all of which they handled with grace and good humour!
Catslife: What animal would you most like to paint (one that you have yet to do?)
Jane: I love them all and they all have wonderful unique qualities, so that’s another tricky question. A friend lost her dog recently, so I’d love to paint him for her as a gift of consolation, but purely for myself I’d say any member of the cat family – perhaps a tiger if I am ever lucky enough to observe one in the wild.
Catslife: Any plans for your art in the future?
Jane: To paint more in oils. I haven’t had a studio separate from the house for years, and there hasn’t been space to leave wet oil paintings standing around, but I am moving soon to a house with a studio, so I will be able to do this. I’d also like to do a series of cat drawings on greeting cards, and am hoping to meet up with a distributor to do this. And naturally the lure of a solo exhibition beckons…
Catslife: How many paintings have you done to date?
Jane: I’m not sure! I have only recently – within the last three years – started painting seriously, and don’t paint full time as I also illustrate children’s books. It takes me from three days to two weeks to complete a painting, depending on the technique and the detail involved.
Catslife: Why do you paint animals?
Jane: I just love them, their vulnerability, their trust, their friendship,and also their wonderful physical attributes such as interesting bone structure, wonderful textures and expressive eyes.
When I paint animals, it puts me in touch with the tenderness inside myself, which is a very warm, good place to be. And also, as much of my work is done on commission, I enjoy giving lasting pleasure to the pets’ owners, and hope they connect to the same warmth and love for their pet each time they look at the portrait.