By Karen Billing
Carmel Valley artist Sue Britt was recently accepted into Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center, San Diego’s largest collection of studio artists. Starting in July, Britt will share her unique pieces of art in the medium of paper tapestry, using strips of paper to create impressive nature scenes.
Britt has been an artist all of her life, thanks to her artist mother who had her doing art projects from a very young age. Her creative spirit went wild with projects in sewing, painting, drawing, needlepoint and photography.
“I had lots of encouragement and I think that’s one of the most important things for artists, to be encouraged to be creative, take risks, give it a whirl, throw it up and see what comes out of it,” Britt said.
Britt went on to get her degree in architecture and practiced for six years before moving on to Peace Corps work, community development work, and then staying home with her children.
“(Being a mom) is one of the most creative endeavors I’ve ever done,” said Britt.
Like her own childhood, she encouraged her kids to experience art at an early age and eventually brought it into their school classrooms. At Carmel Creek Elementary School, she developed a writing and illustrating program for fourth grade students where the children made their own books that were put on display in the library. At Solana Pacific, she led an art and science discovery program called “Whosit, Whatsit, Why.”
“To me, that is a piece of life experience and the creative spirit … encouraging kids to get out there and experiment,” said Britt.
Britt didn’t stop at just getting children to be creative — she also started a group for her adult friends called The Artist’s Way. Britt based her group on the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron that outlines a 12-week creative program with daily exercises and art projects.
“It’s all about discovering what you love, what you like to do and want to do,” Britt said. “It asks you how you see the world, to be creative and excited about it and want to put your ideas out into the world.”
The 12-week program has now lasted six years and, through the Artist’s Way, many of her friends have discovered not just creative outlets but success in art fields such as writing and photography.
Britt has been playing with the art of paper tapestry and paper boxes for the last five years.
“It was just something fun I did on the side. I love paper and got to use it in an interesting way,” Britt said. “Although I’m not practicing architecture anymore, all those skills about design, balance and seeing, carries over to what I do now, My work has a 3-D feel to it, there’s a lot of structure.”
Strips of beautiful and colorful handmade paper are cut, wrapped and weaved to create a picture. She creates shadow and edge by adding a backing of two-ply illustration board to the strips of paper so it doesn’t just lay flat but has depth.