Artist Spotlight - Jill Richie
Who are you? What do you do?
My lifestyle, career, and art practice are shaped by human interactions with the environment in my home state of Alaska. From the backyard to the backcountry, I use art as a tool for observation, recreation, and environmental + social advocacy. My practice is grounded in field sketching, where I use watercolor and pen to take note of my surroundings.
Who/what inspires you?
I’m inspired by the idea of art as a form of being in conversation with the environment. Some days my brushes study the physical characteristics of a landscape, while other times they allow me to explore curiosities beyond the aesthetics. Always, the resulting works are influenced by the environment in which they were created. Local water sources activate my palette, sun, wind and rain dictate drying times, a squished mosquito occasionally sneaks into the composition.
What is your favorite moment in the process?
I love finding ways for my little paintings to have an impact on the bigger picture. While the purpose of many of my sketches are sentimental and experimental, they also have the power to be an act of reciprocity. Recently, my art has connected with social and environmental justice initiatives. It has raised funds to support local non profit organizations. It has coalesced into personal projects that strengthen my relationship to the land and individuals who inhabit it. I regularly consider how to deepen themes of education and advocacy in my work, and am all ears if you have ideas!
What is a trick of your trade or a piece of advice for artists in your medium(s)?
Thinking of painting as a creative practice - as opposed to a professional pursuit, a business, or an obligation - has been a liberating mindset that allows me to sustain this work. If it’s a practice, it’s something I can improve at, experiment with, take breaks from, and truly enjoy without being fixated on the end result.
I’m looking forward to taking some time and space to adjust to our growing family - as my latest work in progress is due this summer.
Curiously, my roles as a parent and an artist developed in tandem back in 2019. With a body in recovery and a baby in tow, I had to find a new way to maintain outdoor pursuits and friendships. Hint: it involved lots of breaks. And during those breaks, while I nursed a newborn or caught my breath, I started plein air sketching. These sketches, pauses, and observations laid the foundation for a few new relationships - with art, my daughter, myself, and our surroundings.
No pressure on the next kid, but I’ll be excited to see how art fits into this chapter of our lives.
Is there anything you would like promoted in May specifically?
I have a few exciting projects lined up for the summer. First up, this June I’ll be contributing paintings to the Mountain Arts Summit in Crested Butte, Colorado. This multi-day event features works and workshops by artists with a focus on environmental advocacy.
Then, August 19 - September 4, my dad and I will be hosting an art show in McCarthy, Alaska. We’ll be showcasing watercolors that celebrate our personal and shared connections to the Wrangells and we’d love to see you there!
Where can we find you? (Social pages, website, classes/workshops, clubs, etc.)
You can learn more about my work at jillrichieart.com (sign up for my monthly newsletter while you’re there!), follow along on instagram: @jill.richie.art, or say hi if you see me out and about!