By Lin Parkin/Quinte Arts Council
On a warm, sunny afternoon, I sit across from 23-year-old artist Briana Godden.
We are sipping wine on a patio along the Trent River when she shows me a booklet she’s been working on called the Prince Edward County Sketchbook Project.
“I chose the theme of duality,” she says.
Vibrant paintings and sketches convey the beauty of nature combined with hard lined, manmade things. Godden explains: “It’s a juxtaposition of meaning. A marriage between two sides. Life and death, beauty and decay, dark and light, good and evil. I really love duality – that’s what this project is all about.”
She also shows me pictures of the massive collection of artwork she’s been creating during the pandemic. Over 30 completed paintings are stacked against walls and stored in closets. The imagery is as wide-ranging as is her media usage.
“I’m not an illustrator. I’m not a painter. I’m not a mixed-media artist. I’m not a collage artist. I’m not a sculptor. I’m not a ‘this’ or a ‘that.’ I’m all those things.”
Godden first discovered a passion for art when she was about 12 years old.
“I willy-nilly asked my mom for a sketch book one day because I had been doodling in class and drawing self-insert characters [when an artist puts themselves into a story as a character] for things like anime and manga or Star Wars – anything sci-fi–fantasy related. I would do these self-insert characters to be a part of that world.”
As she got older, she began exploring her talent further with representationalism through realism. Friends helped along the way. She says, “I found a good body of geeks in high school, and they encouraged me to be my normal crazy self in the art room and I started diving into it in full force.” After high school, Godden pressed on with art.
“I felt like that was my natural path. I think some people know what they’re meant to do, and to me, I knew that art should be something I’m pursuing.”
She earned a Certificate in Pre-Animation and Illustration at Algonquin College in 2017. In the same year, she received her Painting and Drawing Certificate from Haliburton School of Art and Design, where she also earned a Digital Image Design Certificate in 2019.
Godden has paved her way in the local arts community by being open to and charging forward with every opportunity she has found. She joined the Prince Edward County Arts Council, the Quinte Arts Council (QAC), the Eastern Central Ontario Arts Association, and the Belleville Arts Association.
Through these connections she has showcased her work at the Parrott Gallery, including this year’s Spring Sentiments and the QAC’s Expressions shows. Her paintings are also featured at the Belleville Arts Association and Georgina Arts Centre in Sutton, Ont.
Realizing that she didn’t need a BFA or MFA to be a successful commercial artist, she says, “I’ve been finding a lot of success in my own backyard. We’re fortunate to live in a spot that’s got so much support for the arts right here.”
Godden is honoured to be full-time permanent member artist at Gallery 121 in Belleville. The morning of our interview, she was delighted to learn one of her paintings had sold.
She exclaims; “Oh my gosh! It feels insane. Everything is happening so quickly, and it’s great. It is such a confirmation from the Universe that everything is falling into place.”
On what’s next for Godden, she explains a personal challenge project she participates in called Inktober. Millions of artists around the globe create new pieces everyday for the entire month of October, posting it to their socials each day using the hashtag #inktober. “I have been doing it for about four years. The first couple years I completed maybe three or four days but last year I did all 31 days.”
Godden is also launching a print business this year in partnership with J B Print Solutions and Shopify. People will be able to purchase limited edition prints, signed, with a letter of authenticity.
“My prints will be available on T-shirts, pillowcases, mugs – virtually anything you can think of. It will make my art accessible to people who are maybe on a budget or can’t afford a larger piece or the original.”
Most recently, she was accepted to the PECAC Armoury Residency Program for the month of September 2021, where her art focus was on illustrative elements and contemporary paint applications on raw canvas.
On what drives her to do what she does, Godden pauses for thought. “I just like to make things that look really cool. It’s the deliberations of a creative mind at work.”
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Umbrella magazine, out now.