It is nearly impossible to speak about Britten’s artwork — those sweeping canvases of color layered upon color, light layered upon metals — without speaking about the artist herself.
“I have found the unity of it all through vulnerability and authenticity,” she explains. “Nothing can remain hidden in my art; it’s all there whether I’m aware of it or not. It is through full exposure personally that I have found the full exposure — or endless possibilities — of creativity, and vice versa.”
These are not simply words for the artist, but a mission, a commitment, an everlasting epiphany that drives her to create. Whether she is standing in front of a canvas, reaching for paints without noticing the colors, or speaking with strangers in the course of everyday living, Britten is both present and exposed.
“Through the years my paintings have been a perfect mirror of my internal life… the life that I thought most people would never see,” she says. “Deep emotions, dreams, searching for some kind of meaning in experiences — all this has shown up like a reflection in the mirror on the canvas.”
And when she realized what was happening, she saw the “real” her: “I can’t possibly hide because I love to paint. It is me; I am it.”
She’s always chasing the light, and manages to imbue her art with that light. She believes a fascination with light is a universal quality shared by humanity. “Luminosity is important to me for this reason,” she says.
“I use many layers of light-reflecting mediums and materials to allow the light to be seen from any direction at any time of day from any perspective. I see light and our reflection of light or luminosity as the mystery of life, so I work with it, play with it and am totally fascinated by it.”
Luscious. Beautiful. Textured. Unsettling. Layered. Intriguing. Her artwork is all of these, and yet these words don’t get at the heart of those multi-colored canvases that seem to reach into the room and demand attention, sometimes with an exclamatory shout, other times a seductive whisper. The abstract art might induce a memory of wide open skies or happiness, longing or peace or sex or water. But at the heart of all of them is Britten.
“Each piece of art documents the process of connecting a small piece into the bigger picture, or life,” she says. “I know now that my purpose is to share this process with anyone who wants to look. It may be my unique process but the end result is universal, something that is beyond me, beyond the language barrier or cultural differences. It’s an invitation to look beyond what we think we know.”
Britten doesn’t ask the viewer to do anything she herself is unwilling to do. She’s not presenting answers but celebrating the questions. “Trusting my path came with the prerequisite that I trust myself and my intuition,” she says. “This trust is an endless circle that sustains itself. I just allow it to be present with me at all times.” And so she is able to capture the light, capture the life.
—by Wren Bova