Honoring The Cover Artist: Brittany Brett

This week’s cover artist, Brittany Brett, is indeed a Renaissance woman. Besides her powerful paintings of horses, she is also an accomplished documentary photographer and teacher for handicapped children. The current cover image for The Hampton Classic is called “Quintessence,” an appropriate name for the subject and Brett’s worldview, both of which evoke the important aspects of life.
Brett says the cover is an homage to the juxtaposition of classical and contemporary sensibilities, the classical part referring to technique and the contemporary element representing composition. The horse and rider also demonstrate an unusual kind of bonding—the animal conveying strength and determination, the rider showing a close connection to the steed.
Q: Since you were last on the cover two years ago, you have moved to New York. That’s quite a switch from what you’re used to growing up in the South. How do you like Manhattan?
A: It’s a great home base for when I travel. Everyone in New York is doing something progressive. There’s so much energy. It’s what motivates you.
Q: How does your documentary photography play a part in your life in New York?
A: I photograph current events in the city, parades, protests. I see these things from a personal perspective, but I am focusing on painting now.
Q: Where did you get your training for painting and photography and what kinds of painting inspired you?
A: I went to the Savannah School of Art and Design where I worked in oils; a big influence were the masters, like Rubens. I have also always admired da Vinci and his technique. I like Rothko, too, although he is, of course, a contemporary artist. I pick and pull my favorite parts from the artists I admire.
Q: How do some of these artists specifically influence you?
A: I am inspired by certain color palettes from Rothko. It depends on the mood I am trying to create.
Q: Tell me more about your use of color and its sources.
A: When I was in Roussillon, a little village in the southern part of France, I collected pigments of ochre where the color originated. People love pigments that come straight from the earth.
Q: I can imagine you always had an attraction to painting.
A: I went to Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach when I was in high school.
Q: How did you get involved with horses from a personal standpoint?
A: I have been riding since I was seven years old. Every time I go home to Florida, I ride, but so far I don’t do it in New York. My relationship with horses started because my mother runs a center for disabled kids where horses are used as therapy. I saw some things that I will never forget, like an autistic child speaking for the first time when they said their horse’s name.
Q: From a professional perspective, it was natural to paint horses given your environment. How do you characterize them?
A: Horses were one of my first subjects. I try and capture their expression, their energy in their “flight.” There’s “fight or flight” behavior. They belong to the “flight” kind of behavior.
Q: Talk about behavior, you are doing research on why horses do what they do.
A: I am starting a couple of paintings on the reptilian brain. One of my works shows a human form and animal skulls.
Brittany Brett will be at the Boutique Garden at the Hampton Classic. Email her at britbrett@gmail.com

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