When Britten approaches a canvas, she has no vision of what will fill it. Brush in hand, oil paint, resin, metals and
a quiver of tools at her side, she shifts into autopilot and unabated creativity takes hold.
Born in San Francisco and trained in Florence, Italy, the Vail-based artist’s mantra has always been, “keep it pure.” She has often said she has no clear agenda other than painting what she feels.
The result is a collage of swoops and rainbow landscapes, sometimes scattered with butterflies, sometimes the outline of a face. The single word titles of pieces — “Witness,” “Intricacy,” “Valence,” etc., offer a profound guideline for the artist’s own interpretation of the work, but she is the first to say that she “has no idea what’s going to happen when I start throwing pigments around and layering metals on.”
In spite of embarking on the adventure of each blank canvas steered only by primordial emotions, the concept of intention has had a pivotal role in her recent work.
“I’ve been enamored by the power of a simple intention to change a thought pattern or experience,” she says.
Although Britten says her process has not changed, she has “evolved with it to become more aware of myself and my potential.” Part of this awareness is the realization that she does actually have a simple goal in mind with her work and it is “creating something of beauty.”
“We tend to go through life not noticing or appreciating how beautiful it can be and often beauty is seen as useless or extravagant, yet the message my paintings are giving me lately is… beauty is inherent and an infinite resource waiting to be discovered within us all,” she says.
To some people, the ultimate specter of beauty is a sunset. To someone else, it’s waves crashing on a beach. To others, it’s a loved one’s face. Knowing that everyone perceives beauty differently, Britten never intends to depict “anything recognizable,” but paints with the understanding that we are all attracted to beauty and, in our own ways, need it.
“I question what I yearn for when I stand at the top of a mountain looking out through the endless sky, or dive deep into the ocean and swim up toward the light, or place fresh flowers all around my house. My answer is that beauty makes me feel whole, complete, divine,” Britten says. “In that whole, complete, divine state there is no suffering, no illness, no stress, no emptiness. There is simply a feeling of love. This is how beauty can heal. It reminds us that we are loved; that we are love.”
— by shauna farnell