From Finger Painting to Art Gallery Owner

Britt Reynolds Bair ’79 realized she loved art when she was in kindergarten. She said, “All the kids were finger painting and I wouldn’t do it because I thought it was messy. Then I tried it and the teacher couldn’t get me to stop! All throughout school I was drawing, painting and sculpting. It seemed second nature to me. When I started winning awards, I realized I might be on to something.”

Originally from Connecticut, Bair chose Colby-Sawyer for its excellence in education and the equestrian program. She immediately started taking as many art classes as possible. It did not take her long to fall in love with the college. “There were so many fun activities, dances, concerts and parties. I loved the girls in my dorm, hanging out on the roof catching rays, watching General Hospital in the basement together and putting on skits,” Bair said. She also spent a lot of time competing in horse shows and working for her trainer. Bair said, “My mentor was my riding coach. He helped me with my confidence while I was at the college.”

Bair has recently opened an art gallery in Darien, Connecticut, after several years of showing her work at other businesses. She said, “It’s exhilarating. This is a first for me. I have never had a storefront with my name on the door!” She is also currently being represented in New York City, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Watch Hill, R.I., and Vero Beach, Fla.

Bair has spent much of her career using oils, but now she is enjoying the layers that working with acrylics offers. She said, “Acrylics dry fast, so I can add several layers. I also enjoy putting collage into my paintings to add texture and dimension.”

Inspiration for Bair’s work comes from everywhere. It could be a color combination, how the light reflects off an object, or even a feeling she gets when she goes to the beach. She said, “I’ve been painting intuitively lately so the inspiration comes from inside somehow, and I just let it out on the canvas.”

Painting in abstract expressionist style allows Bair to be free from any kind of restraint, but she has also always enjoyed painting plein-air as well. Bair has led a plein-air group for the past 15 years. “I find that after painting outside, I come back to the studio with fresh ideas for abstract paintings. Around Christmas, I also get a lot of dog portrait commissions which I also love to do. I like to do it all,” said Bair.

Bair’s favorite piece of work is usually the last painting she has created because it is the most current and experimental. She tries to challenge herself each time she starts a new painting. Bair said, “I can create a piece in two hours or two years. If it has been two years, it is because I have probably overworked it and have to start over. Normally, I am a fast painter. I once went to a five-day painting workshop and produced 25 large-scale paintings!”

Bair is married and has two grown children, Alexandra, 28, and Jack, 27. She lives in Rowayton, Conn., but goes to Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. She is an avid tennis play and golfer and loves spending time with family and friends.

Bair is a member of many local art associations in which she is a juror to new members. She said, “I stay busy by organizing group art shows and workshops that I teach. The rest of the time you will find me in my studio, as I paint almost every day.”