Looking for meaning in the Last Frontier

James HeskethContributing writer

Between camping, flannels and a beat-up Subaru, Roman Brittain, 18, is a stereotype of what it’s like to live in the Pacific Northwest.

Brittain says his primary interest in life is painting, but that is followed by his undying love of the outdoors. While he spends his weekdays working, completing high school and making art, he spends his weekends almost entirely in the outdoors.

“It’s rare for me to have a weekend that I’m not out hiking or camping,” he said.

For Brittain, his art is complimented by the nature of Washington.

“I’m never more inspired to paint than when I’m in the woods or up on a mountain,” he said.

He brings a small sketchbook with him on every excursion to jot down ideas on the spot.

Brittain’s life is snapshot of life in Washington. For example, Hammocking by a Snow Lake while blasting music from “Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes”, sneaking onto Vance Creek Bridge or getting food from the Antique Sandwich Company in Tacoma.

“I’m not a hipster,” Roman said. “But I do like flannels and artisan sandwiches.”

Brittain’s room reflects his love of art. It’s reminiscent of those lived in by the masters of the Renaissance. He’s co-opted two-thirds of the space into his own personal art studio. Finished and unfinished paintings line the walls and floors, old paint trays and brushes are strewn about on every surface and a massive homemade easel sits in the middle of it all. The current painting he’s working on is an ultra realistic eyeball on an elongated canvas. He says its title is “the future of painting,” an homage to the work of surrealist artist Rene Magritte.

Despite his love of Washington, he’s leaving it for a solo summer in Alaska. He’s got a job lined up and he’s moving as soon as summer vacation begins. While in Alaska, he’ll be working as a coffee barista at the vacation resort Denali Park Village. Brittain cites three reasons for his move: “I want to meet new people, explore new places, and be on my own for several months.”

“I need a break from my life here,” Brittain said. “This is my chance to be independent.”

For Brittain, this solo journey is defined by something more. He says “I know this is cliche, but I don’t want to wake up in five years without having done anything in life. Without having taken any chances. I want to something more in life.”

He says he was inspired by the quote “I go to seek a great perhaps,” which, ironically, he found in the John Green book Looking for Alaska.

Brittain plans on spending all his free time in Alaska exploring the plethora of national parks the state has to offer and work on his art.

“I’m only working 40-50 hours a week, I have the rest of the time off, so I’m really excited to explore the Alaskan wilderness.”

Brittain is uncertain of his plans after he moves back to Washington.

“Who knows?” He said.

He plans on starting up a business at some point, getting a dog, and traveling the world. No matter what he does, Brittain says he’ll always be in search of something more. A great perhaps.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Looking for meaning in the Last Frontier

by Contributing Writer time to read: 2 min
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