Painting feeds me on all levels.It allows me to express my subconscious as well as conscious thought. Every brushstroke frees my emotions. Physically, it moves the energy of creativity throughout my body. Vitality pulses in every cell when I paint. In turn, I give my heart as an empty vessel to be filled. I allow myself to be fully present to whatever wants to be created. I surrender my ego and personality to something much larger than I can explain. The exchange carries through creation into the sale of the painting. The finished painting is released, without personal attachment, to be an experience for the viewer. The sale, or exchange of money, allows me to purchase more supplies and paint again. I am aware of the importance of all levels of exchange.

I’m not sure if many artists are truly aware of the importance of exchange- thus the starving artist syndrome. Young artists always ask me how a value is established on a painting. In reality, I do not set the monetary value; that is set by the retail art market. Yet, I do set a base. The cost of materials and what I need to create again is factored in. But more importantly, I set the value of the experience to me. I give 100% to what I am creating. So therefore, I am able to receive everything that comes to me in exchange. It has taken me years of depletion (starvation) to see and accept the importance of exchange in art.

Recognizing exchange as an artist has carried into my personal life, since there really is no separation between the two anymore. This month, in a moment of complete exhaustion, I saw clearly that I was not in the flow of balanced exchange. Something was off. The balance is internal, not circumstantial. The physical evidence, or circumstances I find myself in, are the red flag, but the culprit is myself, internally. Somehow in the crazy world of go, give, produce, do, I forgot what I know about exchange. It’s not a tit for tat thing… or linear equality of expectation. I see it as a spiral of growth or evolution. The energy must circle back, be fed, and then multiply to carry on. It cannot exist without participation, both giving and receiving. The receiving may come in a totally unrecognizable form or unexpected event, and the openness or void must be there to accept it. The space created from giving must be acknowledged too. So I asked myself, am I giving life 100%? My answer was, yes, I think so. The next question is hard for many “givers” in the world, especially when you are tired, depleted or toying with being a victim or martyr, or have an expectation of return. Am I comfortable with the vulnerability of being empty and allowing the mystery of life to fill me up? I am completely comfortable with this process in painting, yet I realized I was shaky with the concept in other areas of life. Then I remembered value and quality… key ingredients in exchange. Yes… I value myself and know the quality of what I can give to life and those around me… and I am committed to being my highest potential as a human being. So, yes, I trust in that exchange being exactly what I need to go forward and evolve, whatever it may look like, completely, 100%.

And what if it really is that simple? What if life is just waiting for the void or opening to pour in…? What if it is as simple as inhale and exhale, expand and contract, and universal laws of physics actually apply to the quality of life? Why not go for 100% participation just to see what is possible?


Creatively, Britten