Finnish born Ritva Voutila made her way to Australia via the Canary Islands where she has become a beloved children's book illustrator and fine artist. Her rich, detailed artworks shown in Scapes are from just three of over 50 picture books she has illustrated. She creates magical worlds using traditional oil-painting techniques and also creates digitally with the same fine skill. We were lucky to have her answer a few questions:
What is the first drawing that you remember doing?
International chairs, when I was under four years old. The chairs were simple figures resembling number 4, and what made them ‘international’ was that they consisted of multicoloured stripes as in flags of many nations.
Was there a special book for you growing up, and what was it?
I was an avid reader from very young. My childhood coincided with the era when the illustrations in many, if not most books, were still those from the Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration. Any book with such wonderful illustrations was a special book for me.
How does it feel to excite young minds and do you consider yourself as a child when creating your images?
I create images that I find pleasing to myself at the time of creating them. If instead I try to please others I fear my illustrations would become forced and lifeless. I aim for honesty and it is a great bonus if others find my illustrations pleasing as well.
How does your work keep you young ... or doesn't it?
I believe any mental activity keeps one’s mind young. And as for the body, I mostly paint standing up for hours at the time.
What was the experience seeing your work published in a book for the first time?
I started very gradually. My first published work were small black and white illustrations in school textbooks. Nonetheless I felt a sense of achievement when I finally graduated to “real books”.
Can you let us know what's currently in your CD player/ on your Turntable/ in your Spotify queue?
“Guns, Germs and Steel”, an audiobook by Jared Diamond – seriously.
Be sure to catch Ritva's fantastical imagery in Scapes, last day tomorrow (Sat 18 Sept). Collins Bookstore also stock books she has illustrated including The Nutcracker by Margerete Lamond and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde.