In my ongoing exploration of painting, I shift my focus between the genres of landscape, still life, figure and creatures, combining observational realism with imagination. The common thread is nature, which I experience as restorative but also with consciousness of its precarious state. Within all of these subjects I search for beauty whether humble or grand, and an inscrutable quality found in the relationship between objects, the way light reveals them, and the metaphors they call to mind. The environment of my Southern coastal upbringing, where stories are embedded in the landscape, still influences me. When I travel there and around my current territory, the Pacific Northwest, I collect natural objects and make sketches and photographs of scenery that I find compelling. In the studio I make drawings of the model and still life objects and clip interesting photos from newspapers. All are useful raw materials. I combine elements and memories into compositions using logic and intuition, working to create a sense of space and palpable atmosphere. I work with a consciousness of the symbolic meanings the components carry, both historic and personal, but expect the viewer to generate his or her own interpretations.
My oil painting technique utilizes both direct and indirect methods, usually including layers of glazing and scumbling, and I am continually learning and refining my knowledge of the medium. My influences are historical and contemporary painters who combine realism with a sense of psychology and ambiguity, from Rembrandt and Vermeer to Caspar David Friedrich to Edward Hopper and George Tooker. My goal is to make paintings of objects and landscapes that are recognizable and even familiar to the viewer, but with a quality of mystery and transformation.
Louise Britton is an artist living in Seattle, Washington. She spends part of each year on Edisto Island, South Carolina, in a small cabin on land that has been in her family for generations.
Louise grew up in the small, historic town of Fernandina Beach, Florida, and as a child was encouraged to draw and paint by her artist and puppeteer mother. She started college at Jacksonville University as an art major at the age of 16, and graduated four years later from the University of South Florida, where she studied intaglio and lithography in the respected printmaking department. She continued to live in Tampa for a time, studying photography and making prints in a studio in Ybor City while making ends meet with jobs such as doing portrait sketches at a theme park. A year of study of printmaking, drawing and the history of Mexican art at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, followed. Moving back to Jacksonville, she set up an etching press in her studio in a rambling Victorian house and hosted figure drawing sessions in the attic. She held jobs as an assistant exhibit designer for a children's arts and sciences museum and as a graphic artist, and exhibited her etchings in arts festivals and regional and national juried shows.
Louise moved to Atlanta in 1982 to pursue a graphic design career to parallel to her fine art career. She studied at Portfolio Center to learn more about the applied arts, and worked as a graphic designer and illustrator. Seeking to continue to develop her skills in visual communication and painting and drawing in a narrative style, she enrolled in the graduate program in Illustration at Georgia State University. She spent a summer in Italy with the University of Georgia Studies Abroad program, studying watercolor painting, drawing and Renaissance art history. She received an M.F.A. from Georgia State University in 1987.
After working since college primarily in etching, drawing and mixed media works on paper, Louise decided to return to the flexibility and rich color possibilities of oil painting. In the 1990s, in galleries and art centers in Georgia, she began exhibiting small paintings on panel depicting highly realized but dreamlike imagery. Working as a versatile illustrator as well, she created editorial art in a variety of media for local and national publications, as well as paintings commissioned for CD covers.
Upon moving with her husband to Seattle in 1999, she gave up her illustration business to concentrate on painting and has exhibited in the area regularly, working on larger canvases and incorporating the landscape of the Pacific Northwest as well as the South into her subject matter. She continued her exploration of oil painting techniques by attending workshops at the Seattle Academy of Fine Art (now Gage Academy of Fine Art). She has been represented in Seattle by the Fountainhead Gallery since 2001.