I met Retta Ritchie-Holbrook through Hannah Marcotti's Spirit of Joy a couple years ago. I found I really resonated with many women that took Hannah's course, and keep up with them even now. I'm so grateful Retta is one of those women.
Retta offered a monthly tracker earlier this year, with her artwork at the top. Please check out the link for it! Her art draws me in - both her use of colour and imagery (perhaps because I am drawn to all things "wild") - and I am so excited to introduce you all to her work.
What does Creativity mean to you?
Making new connections. Solving problems in unique ways by combining the knowledge you have across different subjects and interests.
How do you expand yourself creatively?
I challenge myself to keep stretching and learning new things. I try to read and study information that is outside of my current knowledge and to meet new and interesting people that challenge me as well. I love taking new online courses and looking at the work of others to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
Yes, at least I remember making a lot of things. I went through phases. There was the necklace making phase and the poetry writing phase and of course the drawing and painting phases. I've noticed this jumping from one thing to another has been a consistent thread through my life. I recently watched a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert called Flight of the Hummingbird - The Curiosity Driven Life, and it made so much sense to me. If you are someone that has a hard time focusing on one thing, I can't recommend that talk enough. I'm lucky that I've always been supported by my family, and I have amazing, creative friends that inspire and support me.
What inspires you most?
Music, movement, people, new experiences, travel, my dreams.
How do you balance life and art effectively? Or, do you?
It's not so much a balance, but more like a wave, ebbing and flowing with extremes on both ends. Sometimes life (dishes and laundry) gets pushed aside for the art, and sometimes life needs more attention, and my art has to take a back burner. I try not to beat myself up when I fall out of balance.
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
I used to step back, but I think that was more from fear than actually giving myself space. Now I try to just start with the permission that it may be complete shit, but at least I'm making something.
How do you deal with change, especially when it comes to creative mediums and passion?
I really don't have a problem with change for the most part. I like trying new mediums and projects.
How does criticism affect you?
I'm getting better, both with external and internal criticism. I'm a recovering people pleaser. Thinking someone didn't like me or didn't like something I created used to knock me off kilter, but with age is coming a new perspective. I want to be authentic, and I can't do that when I worry about what everyone else thinks.
Do you have any other mediums you use to express yourself creatively?
Photography. My phone camera is an extension of my arm. I also like gardening.
Do you enjoy collaborating, or prefer to work alone?
I like both. Collaboration is a great way to push me out of a rut. Being around other artists is very motivating and inspirational for me.
Do you work in a studio/space designed specifically for your creativity, or on the spur of the moment/anywhere inspiration strikes?
I have a room in my house that I call my studio, but have been creating mostly at my kitchen table lately. Mainly because my 14 year old dog can't make it up the stairs because of arthritis in his hips, and I seem to work better with my feet tucked under his warm little body.
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
Usually with the flow. I used to try to think through a piece of art before I began, and it would stop me in my tracks. I tend to overthink things anyway, so working from a more intuitive place helps me avoid that. I am creating way more art now that I let my gut lead a lot more.
Do you have a preferred way of cataloguing ideas?
Pinterest is probably the tool I use the most for that right now.
Do you utilize social media? If so, how?
What is your typical day like?
I get up and head to my full time job, Monday through Friday. When I get home, I try to exercise for at least 30 minutes, have dinner, and often will work on a freelance web designer project while I get caught up on a TV show. Lately that has been Downton Abbey, The Flash, and Lost Girl. I may also use TV time to sketch as well. Most of my paintings happen on the weekends, but I would like to create a habit of painting more during the week, too.
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
Sometimes I will smudge the space with sage, cue up some music, and occasionally draw a tarot or oracle card for inspiration.
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
I'm a user experience designer in my day job, and I work with a group of software developers. They constantly make me laugh. Not only are they creative in how they solve programming problems, but they are also smart, interesting, and witty as hell which inspires me to no end.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
I like all kinds of music, but I tend to lean toward chillwave and electronica when I want to create. It seems to get me in the zone better.
I'm listening to Broken Social Scene - Sweetest Kill while writing this.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
I work with a coach, Sharon Tessandori, to help me think through business and life goals, and Sharon introduced me to the victim, villain, and hero roles. It was huge in helping me to assess if I was making decisions or excuses from one of those mindsets. I was uncomfortable at first when I realized that I was putting myself in the victim role in some situations, and wasn't taking responsibility for the things I could control. Now I try to get out of that cycle as quickly as possible.
Do you have any favourite books?
- Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
- I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion by Dawna Markova
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
- Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Do you have any upcoming projects/collections to share?
Do you have a favourite quote?
"All life is but a skull-bone and A rack of ribs through which we keep passing food & fuel - just so's we can burn so furious beautiful." - Jack Kerouac
Where can we find your art?