You could say that Castle Rock-based artist Jennifer M. Godshalk is kind of like the marvel next door. You don’t really expect someone so nice and unassuming – and with such an inspiring story to boot – to be so successful in the art world. But there she is down south, using her home as her studio where she creates contemporary fine art paintings that are sold and shown throughout the region and beyond. We spoke with Godshalk about her inspiration, personal tragedy and that time Quentin Tarantino blew into town and fell in love with her painting.
How did you first get into painting?
I always sketched and drew horses as a child. I was obsessed with them. But then I set my creativity aside in high school, then I went to a tech school, then I got married and became a mom. I put everyone first but myself. I reached out to a family member I hadn’t spoken to in years who asked me if I had ever gotten my horse. I was so sad to realize I never did. So within the year, my family started taking riding lessons and I purchased a horse from the stable. My daughter showed our horse in 4-H and she decided to try an art project. I was helping her study different genres of artwork when I had the sudden urge to try a painting myself. Once I purchased the canvas and started painting, I was hooked. I couldn’t stop. It was as if I was possessed to keep painting and painting. Before I knew it, my house was full of paintings. Somebody suggested I open a website and try to sell my artwork, which I did. I sold my first painting within a month of having started!
What inspires you?
All different kinds of artwork, artists, anyone creative. I enjoy experimenting with different mediums. I am trying to push the boundaries and not be confined by any rules of artwork. I have never had an art class and I am afraid to as I don’t want to follow anybody else’s “rules.” I want to break the rules and create my own pathway to bring something creative and completely different to the art scene.
How does your personal life affect your art?
My greatest work seems to emerge as I am feeling strong emotions, such as anger or frustration. Most of my paintings involve animals, and I try to capture strong emotions, energy, and feeling from these animals.
My first husband passed away due to suicide in 2011. He suffered from severe depression and anxiety. After his death, I learned to be patient with my work. I learned to take my time and create multiple layers of paint, which adds incredible depth and color to my paintings. My work most certainly has blossomed within the last five years.
It seems silly to have to ask this in 2016, but is the art world welcoming to women, or do you think it’s harder for females to break in?
I believe it is welcoming, but you are more likely to acquire money for artwork as a man, and I believe it is easier for men to be accepted into galleries. My dream is to have an exhibition in New York City. However, I have read that less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art section of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are women. My chances are not looking so great. I will remain optimistic!
I heard you sold a painting to Quentin Tarantino. How did that come about and what was the painting?
Yes! Quentin was filming his movie in Telluride when he and the cast strolled through town and stopped into the gallery. He loved my work and purchased a horse painting I had in the gallery at the time. It was a horse outlined in black with dripping oils on a white background. I later painted him a painting in honor of his new movie The Hateful Eight, which was sent to his studio in California.
What advice would you give to your younger self about pursuing art as a career?
Take criticisms as advice. Learn from your mistakes. Push the boundaries. Create your own sense of style. Love what you do. It isn’t work when you enjoy your job!