Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments…
I am a part of all that I have met. Ulysses, Alfred Lord Tennyson
The first impression when walking into the Gina Godfrey Gallery is colour. The second impression is the enormous body of work on shelves in a large board room that show a complete evolution of the artist’s work from black and white line drawings to watercolours and more, to the vibrant work today.
Sara Waxman: Have you always loved to work with vibrant colour?
Gina Godfrey: I started off primarily with watercolour or mixed media. I didn’t have money to buy all the paints and supplies, so I had to improvise. I studied fashion illustration and interior design. I went to Ryerson and took a journalism course, a public relations course, and an advertising course, and then I worked as advertising manager for a book publishing house. In the 1980s I was president of the Willowdale Group of Artists. I married Paul Godfrey and we had three children. I became a builder and built my own home. Then started a company, Future Historic Homes, and built houses for others. I sat on the Board of the National Arts Center in Ottawa. I was offered an appointment as a Citizenship Court Judge, and I did that for eight years. I didn’t do one piece of art during that time. I wanted to write a book; I wanted to learn the computer; I wanted to go back into my art. As I went along with every change in my life, I changed and evolved as an artist.
SW: Your work in the Gallery hangs on walls that are a compatible colour to your paintings: dark green, yellow, creamy white, as they would be in a private home or office.
GG: It’s basically 3 colours. I’ve used this yellow behind me on the doors and the trim. I’ve used the walls in kind of a forest green. And I’ve used a kind of a creamy white to deal with a particular kind of artwork. In 1996 I went to the Ontario College of Art & Design, and took Print Making, which included every imaginable kind of printed imaging–and I started doing silkscreen. In 2004, we had a house fire and I needed space for my work, so I opened a gallery on Bloor Street. I didn’t have the facilities to do certain things, so I started working with collage, putting pieces into a computer and working in that way. I was also doing a calendar every year. At the time, I was doing my own printmaking, but since we were moving to a new home, I did the artwork, and had someone else do the printmaking. Around that time, Giclee (zhee-clay) appeared, and I could do an eight to twelve print process. Talk about colour. It doesn’t compare to CMYK.
SW: Yes, I see that vibrant, depth of colour from the Giclee. (Giclees are printed using pigment-based inks rather than dye-based inks that are found in lower-cost inkjets. Pigment-based inks have a longer lifespan: they can last anywhere from 100 – 200 years without significant fading.)
SW: Your most recent works have taken the form of a circle.
GG: The circle is all-inclusive. One thing about silk-screen: it is sharp; it is neat, and I can replicate that with Giclee if I want to.
SW: When you begin do you have a concept in mind, or do you create as you go?
GG: I do about three pieces of art a day. Last year the city of Toronto was doing a Monthly Diversification Project, and I was involved with the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Baycrest Centre. First of all, I started with colour: I felt that blue is a basic colour for Jewish artwork, and red for Chinese artwork. Because I’m digital, this piece was 50 feet up in front of the Chinese Cultural Centre, and they were able to show 70 illuminations. Plus, they had a gallery, and on one wall, eight pieces of my framed-art were showcased.
SW: Is there a piece that you really like so much, that when someone wants to buy it, you kind of hate to give it up?
GG: On the day that I do artwork, the third one in the day is generally the one I like the best. Then, a week from now I’ve done the three, and now, I like that one better than the last one. I can be fickle.
SW: Do you find that a certain type of person, or a certain age group seems to be most interested in having your work in their home or office?
GG: I believe most of my clientele are under 50-years-old. I started changing some of my titles because they can look at the piece of art and understand what it means. I’ll show you a piece of artwork. It’s called One Door Opens, and you can see there’s a door in the picture, and it’s something that they can relate to. I think I’m constantly evolving by listening and keeping my ear to the ground. This painting is called There’s No Mountain You Can’t Climb. If you can imagine looking up, and you see the light coming through, and then you know the height of the of the mountain, if you’re looking from the top. It’s inspirational.
SW: “This world is but a canvas to our imagination,” so said Henry David Thoreau.
For more information, go to: https://ginagodfrey.com/
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.