"I want to paint stuff I want to paint and not feel pressured to be liked by everybody."
When the wind and weather cooperates, you can often find Britny Arnett applying colorful acrylic paints to a canvas in McPherson's Wall Park.
"It's pretty quiet here, usually," Arnett said. "It's really fun when there are dogs that get loose and they come up to smell you. They just want you to pet them."
For the past six months, she has created a painting each day — using the park's setting more for atmosphere than inspiration.
"I grabbed canvas and paints," Arnett said. "I had no idea what I was doing because I don't really paint with color or outside or anything."
Though she studied design in college, Arnett had never taken a painting class until recently.
"When you do design, you're making what other people want you to make," Arnett said. "It's not a bad job, but there was very little creative opportunity where I could use my hands."
When she learned about online art classes led by former Disney artist Chris Oatley, she applied for a spot in the school.
"He had this class called 'Painting Drama," Arnett recalled. "I learned more in that class than I did in any of my classes in college."
Along with being instructed in color theory and painting techniques, Arnett benefitted from seeing the work of other artists from around the world.
"I was in class with people that were infinitely better than me, but you got to see them in their own critique," Arnett said. "You could see them put their stuff up and follow what they were doing right or wrong and learn from their mistakes while also learning from your own."
After finishing Oatley's classes, she looked for a new way to challenge herself to better her art.
"I was seeing all these artists who were successful, and what they did was just went out and painted," Arnett said.
Making the decision to get away from digital distractions, Arnett packed up her art supplies and walked over to Wall Park, where she could put her favorite images onto a canvas.
"I did one in an hour, and I finished it, and it looked really good," Arnett said.
Colorful depictions of trees and horses are common themes in her artwork.
"I don't want to paint stuff to impress everybody," Arnett said. "I want to paint stuff I want to paint and not feel pressured to be liked by everybody."
She applies the lessons learned in classes to her paintings. For example, Arnett often puts a layer of pink underneath an area of green to make it stand out.
"I didn't realize I had learned so much until I actually came out here and started painting," Arnett said.
Because she uses acrylic paint, she has to work quickly before the paint dries.
"You don't have to be perfect, and I try to embrace that," Arnett said.
She has amassed more than a hundred small paintings in the process.
"That's a really good way to track your artistic progress, if you do a painting a day," Arnett said. "Not every painting I do is great. Most of them are really bad, because it's not an easy thing to do. It's a feat in and of itself just to get anything done."
Producing regular work takes self-discipline and planning.
"After a while, it's not hard," Arnett said. "It's just a choice."
Some of Arnett's favorite paintings are on display from May 1 through June 26 at the McPherson Public Library, located at 213 W. Marlin St.
A reception will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on May 21 at the library.
"A lot of the trees that are in there are the ones that I used the trees in Wall Park as reference for," Arnett said. "You'll notice I stick a few animals in some of the paintings there."
Arnett also works with an artist in Germany to create the webcomic "Miss Ewe and the Stolen Garden," the story of a sheep turned detective.
"What I want to do is make stories — good stories, stories that will inspire people," Arnett said.
For more information about Arnett's artwork, visit http://britnyarnett.com. For samples of her work, visit our photo gallery.