Anita Brett can find beauty in just about anything. She enjoys painting what she sees around her and does it through the sometimes unpredictable medium — watercolor. This watercolor connoisseur began her painting career around 10 years ago, but originally did oil paintings. After taking some art classes and reading many books, she fell in love with watercolor. “People who use oil are very skilled, but you can go over it and take out what you don’t like,” says Brett. “That is not the case with watercolor. Since the white spaces on watercolors are unpainted, you must carefully plan out where you want that space to be. If you paint on it there is no fixing it — you must start over.” The process from blank slate to a beautiful piece of art is one Brett knows well. “Once you know what areas of your painting will be the white or the lightest, you start there,” she said. “This ensures that you won’t accidentally misuse the space. From there you gradually move into your darker tones.” Although a challenge using watercolors is something Brett has come to love. “You have in your mind what you would like the painting to look like, but once you begin and the colors mix with one another, you don’t know how everything will look until you are finished,” she said. “I like that spontaneity and seeing the image appear before your eyes.” As with any artist, Brett said that there is more to her work than simply painting what is in front of her. “It is my job to capture what is already beautiful — whether it is a landscape or portrait painting. Art needs to elicit emotion, so when I am painting, I try to convey what I feel when viewing the subject,” said. “ If I’m doing a portrait, I try to capture the person’s personality and their spirit; not necessarily every physical detail.” A great example of this is her painting “1 in 163 million.” There is much more to it than simply depicting a cute boy. “The boy’s name is Todo and he is an orphan; representing 1 in 163 million orphans worldwide. The right side of the portrait symbolizes the coldness and loneliness of being an orphan, and the left symbolizes the warmth and support he receives from having a support group at an orphanage,” said Brett. “Color plays a crucial role in setting the tone for a painting.” See Brett’s work at the Katalyst Gallery in Lansing’s Old Town or online at her website: www.anitabrett.com. The site can also be used to contact Brett for commissioned portraits. Andrew Rickerman is a senior at Michigan State University studying advertising and public relations. He enjoys writing, exploring Lansing and eating burritos.