Generations of talent produced the beautiful artist in this month’s Paint it Forward feature: Britton Edwards. She took some time to share her creative journey and a few of her favorite pieces with us.
How has your family been a part of your calling as an artist?
Britton: My mother says that I was drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon in the high chair. I am lucky that my family really supported and encouraged my creativity from the beginning. Sunday family gatherings were my first art shows. My mother is also an artist and apparently we share lineage with the eighteenth-century English painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds. I almost feel like I was born an artist!
As a southern belle hailing from Virginia, how have you grown as an artist without moving to a big city?
Britton: I was fortunate to receive a scholarship and graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University after studying under some of the finest illustrators in the country. Not only was the program inspiring, but it taught me a lot about the industry in general and prepared me for the real life of an artist. I made some great connections in the community and even got to work on a couple of movie projects that were being filmed nearby in Williamsburg, Virginia: The New World, starring Colin Farrell, and the HBO miniseries John Adams, directed by Tom Hanks.
After those productions wrapped, I found myself at a crossroads. I realized I could move to New York City, where there was more opportunity, or stay home, where I really wanted to be. I chose to stay and it has been a decision I have never regretted. This allows me to continue to do the artwork I love while remaining close to my family.
We love seeing such a variety of wildlife and subjects in your paintings. How do you choose what to incorporate?
Britton: I absolutely adore animals, so you will see them a lot in my work. I believe it’s the unconditional love they provide that make them so incredibly special to me. I notice details. Everything from tiny butterflies, to coral reefs and fiery sunsets. When I’m choosing what to incorporate I try to think about what moves me. I hope that if it moves me, it will also move the viewer.
This piece is titled “Black Beauty.” An elderly gentleman commissioned me to paint this for his wife. She had always wanted a black horse and knowing he could not get her the real thing, he had me paint this. I thought that was the sweetest idea! Strength inspired this piece–not just the horse’s strength, but the strength within their relationship, too!
Another favorite piece is “Blue.” This is a personal piece I did while attending the Illustration Academy. The assignment was to come up with a concept using only the word “blue.” I thought it would be fun to paint a chameleon so inspired by playing the blues that he was turning blue himself.
We noticed that in addition to producing commissioned artwork, you have donated your talents for charitable causes. Can you tell us more about those?
Britton: “Honu Makai” was painted as a gift for a sweet young lady battling cancer. Each year, Rappahannock Church of Christ in Warsaw, Virginia sponsors a different child battling cancer. They put on an event to raise money for the family’s astronomical medical expenses. Typically the child chosen has been interviewed prior to the event to find out their interests. One year, a little girl went on and on about her love of sea turtles. I did my best to create the coolest sea turtle portrait possible. It ended up being my favorite piece I’ve done to date.
What message do you have for aspiring artists?
Britton: In 1994, a 12-year-old girl sat at the end of a pier on the Rappahannock River and scribbled down a few dreams on a piece of paper, rolled it up, and sealed it inside of a beautiful glass bottle. The little girl made a wish and threw it into the river. Twenty-two years later I received a Facebook message from some hunters who had found the bottle in the marshes. As I reread my childhood letter about wanting to become a rich and famous artist one day, I reflected on my journey. Now I may not ever be famous, but I am certainly rich in that I was able to have a career as an artist, without having to sacrifice my family. My message to you, aspiring artist, is to have faith! Even when things get hard, do not ever give up on what you love or the people you love!
Find out more about Britton’s artwork here.