Published on July 18, 2016. Interview by 2016 Summer Intern, Nicki Sheffield: Brittany Fan is a Charlottesville-based painter, photographer, and graphic designer. She exhibited at the New City Arts WVTF and Radio IQ gallery in November 2015.
Brittany is our fifth featured 2016 artist in our second annual 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks.
If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
A quick hike in the Shenandoah, peach picking afterward, followed by a dinner party with some close friends, complete with peach cobbler for dessert and sunset watching in the backyard.
Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Being true to myself, and capturing goodness.
Who or what inspires your current work?
I am always inspired by nature. Life is richer when you stop to wonder and behold that which often exists regardless or in spite of us. As humans we tend to strive, moving through life with purpose and ambition. I love that nature doesn’t do that, yet it flourishes and produces something raw and beautiful. The sun always rises, mountains stand relentlessly, and signs of life stir all around us constantly. There is both a certainty and a mystery to the world, and I find that marvelous.
I’m also inspired by writing and music. This primarily manifests itself in my hand lettering projects, but recently I’ve also drawn inspiration from words for my drawings and paintings. I’m hoping to do a series based off of the Psalms soon, as well as collaborate with some writer friends to create visual parallels to their written craft.
Consider one painting you’re working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine— from start to finish, what goes into making it?
I spend my waking hours noticing the world, keeping record of things that catch my attention or take my breath away. When I get the chance to sit down with a blank canvas, I call to mind one of these many starting points. From there, the process is very freeform. It is a working and reworking of colors and forms until I feel that the work is complete. Many times I can’t predict the final product from the onset of the creative process. Often it surprises me, as if in the process of making, the artwork takes on a voice and story of its own. Sometimes I work on several pieces at a time, switching back and forth between them during the same session. I can paint pretty much anywhere and at any time of day—I’m not particular about the time and place. But painting regularly is important to me, because I have come to realize how much it enriches my life.
What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
I’ve learned that creative output is a critical component of my life, so inherent to who I am that it has become the very lens through which I see the world and operate within it. The process of making fulfills a personal need to create, but I also desire to see the end result engage the world meaningfully. I’ve come to understand creativity as one of the primary ways I am equipped to shape the world. I want for my art to be thoughtful, to point to the beauty and goodness in the world and cultivate more of it.
What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
It’s a wonderful thing when artists are deeply integrated into the community, through the manifestations of their craft in everyday public life. We see glimpses of this in the murals around town, the paintings hanging in coffee shops, the ever-changing landscape of IX Park, the galleries that participate in First Fridays each month, and more. But there’s room for further growth, and I’d love to see more partnerships between local businesses/organizations and the creative community.
I also think we would benefit from more art forums, workshops, and creative events, for purposes such as encouraging thoughtful dialogue, cultivating a community of artists, providing practical business resources for emerging creatives, and celebrating local artists and their work.
What is currently on your studio/work desk?
Fresh lavender cuttings, a few plants, pencil portraits for a recent book project, a hand lettering of a quote, and Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle.
Brittany Fan is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied Studio Art, Art History, and Arts Administration. Having a love of all things creative, she enjoys painting, in addition to pursuing freelance photography, doing illustration and lettering, and working in graphic design at Journey Group in downtown Charlottesville. Brittany finds inspiration in the natural world and in the themes of hope, renewal, and restoration.
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