Jennifer Goddard

Home: Westmount, Québec
Title: owl grizzly raven
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 41 x 33 cm

Artist Statement

To begin with, I agree with Oscar Wilde: “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.”

I’m a perceptive person, empathetic, an easy crier. Fascinated by psychology, I’ve always done portraits, but the most mysterious and revealing come from actively choosing my sitter, someone I may not know very well, but I’m drawn to chemically. I suppose I sense some shared history in them. There’s rare mystery at work here – I don’t actually remember doing the painting. This happened with Jean-Pierre. He is a smiling, gentle person – but our sessions revealed a dark past, a demonic mother, and much pain. As an apprentice shaman in northern Québec, he has 3 totems, the portrait’s title: owl grizzly raven. I felt all three painting him.


I’ve been painting and drawing all my life. My favourite crayon was “flesh”. At three, I drew on the toilet seat (a great surface) with my mother’s lipstick. I grew up in the chaos of seven children, so escape was in the intent observation of the things around me, the cat’s tail, my own hands, sun playing on the windowsill. Age 5 to 16, I studied dance at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, which explains why my work often goes back to the body and its languages. I’m largely self-taught – my parents talked me out of art school in favour of something ‘responsible and employable’. I studied Graphic Art and as my family’s breadwinner, did a stint in advertising. It is now my artist’s time, and I have been re-emerging full-force since 2005.