When Brittney Brunson was 7 years old, she wanted someone to draw her doll for her. The recent graduate of John Marshall High School had already asked her three older brothers. It wasn’t until she asked her father, Robert Brunson Jr., to draw it that her passion for art was born.
“My brothers couldn’t do it the way I wanted them to, so I asked my dad to do it and I saw how he could do it. I wanted to be able to draw like him,” Brittney said. However, he couldn’t keep teaching her, because he developed arthritis. “He told me one day I would have to learn how to do it on my own, especially if I want it the way I want it. No one could make it the way I want it unless I do it myself.”
That lesson was the first step in a long journey of artistic expression for Brittney. She said she began drawing cartoons at first, figures like Charlie Brown that have no neck so it was easy to draw. When she got to middle school age, she said she began drawing from pictures. “You’d have to draw houses and venues. One picture that I drew was a portrait of Italy.”
Drawing venues was her favorite for a while until she started drawing portraits of people. Her great-grandfather died last year, and her father passed away this past March. She said drawing portraits helped her cope with the pain. “Every time someone passes away, that’s one of my best ways of closure. They knew how much I loved to draw and I would be able to give it to either the wife or the son of my relatives and it also made me feel better.”
Drawing also acted as therapy for Brittney. “With drawing, you don’t have to necessarily connect everything. It can be so abstract and so crazy, but someone will find it so beautiful. I find it therapeutic, because art has so many meanings that I can basically draw a circle on a piece of paper and no one will understand what it means, but there will be so many different meanings to it. That’s the one thing I like about drawing, that it’s not completely defined.”
It’s because of this passion and the inspiration from her father that Brittney will be attending Old Dominion University in the fall with a major in studio art. She hopes to someday use her talents to become a teacher so that she can teach art to middle school students, where she believes the students are in the prime of their creativity.
While many people have told her that artists do not need to attend college, she’s going to ODU for her father, because he always told her that if she went to college she would be set for life. “Even though he’s not able to see me graduate or see me off to college, he pushed me far enough that I have the resources to be able to continue my education,” Brittney said. “He said at least get a degree. He said I could go off in the world and draw, but that I at least needed to have a degree so that he knows that I’m taken care of.”