Balkan Art Scene
Ružica Milutinović - Development Comes from Changes & Experimenting
Photo: Nebojša Babić
When did you find your first inspirations for choosing visual arts career?
I have been always addicted to drawing, from early childhood I have found passion in it. Later, during teenage days I wanted to keep challenging myself in it, exploring portrait drawings and as a consequence of dedicated work - being better at it. Somehow, I was always interested in faces, characters, people. My first inspiration were young girls and boys, and later I kept with portraits – just changing type of people I draw/paint. As I got matured so did my portraits got more mature characters. During my college days I studied Economy but also find drawing as very important hobby and somehow escape from everyday life, catching quick portraits of people in restaurants, portraits of students listening lecture and similar. Later as a Master of economy I kept progressing in sales and (digital) marketing business for about 15 years, without dropping pen and paper from my hands for some sketches in free time, until 2018 when painting became my main profession. Even in field of economy, I always worked closely with people, studied them, negotiated and dealt with them, felt their emotions, their characters, which have inspired me in the art as well. Somehow my life experiences, my passions and interests, all started manifesting in my artwork and change over time. Through portraits of other people, I actually did numerous portraits of myself as a warrior and chief of my life going through turbulent periods in my thirties, emotional changes, breakups, changing lifestyles, living periodically in other country, and how I felt being in that space, my personal response. Reevaluating and revoking memories is what inspires me today as well. There exist some kind of an emotional charge that comes from the different faces of people, reflecting their strong character which I am trying to convey on canvas, hoping you (the viewer) can feel it too, can feel that character strength and absorb it.
How do you prepare for conveying the message in your work? Where does your creative process begin?
I usually screenshot interesting visuals, photos of people I find on web. I find them by accidental scrolling or in search with purpose for some cultures for example… I sometimes watch people sitting in cafes, restaurants and I photograph them. Then I save it in my folder named “To paint one day”. That is one large folder with around 200 ideas per year. I usually use just 10% of them and I lose interest for the rest of 90%... but I never delete them. Sometimes I get inspired by movie characters, movie scenes. I often paint strong characters of MMA fighters, fighters from the game world. I am pretty much inspired by people’s fighting spirit, with fighters in emotional or even physical sense - maybe because I trained martial arts and maybe because I reflect physical struggle or the wisdom of fighting in a subconscious way on everyday life. It is just a moment when my eye catches someone on web or real life when I recognize character in pose/look/intention that inspires me.
How did you develop your style and focuses in painting?
Development sometimes comes from changes, experimenting with other materials, even changing themes, or doing something I wouldn’t have a courage to do before. The key is just painting, painting, painting – and as Picasso said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” I believe that progress will find you through work as well. Nowadays I share art studio with 2 great artists, and we motivate and push each other towards work and progress, which certainly helps a lot.
Did you have a turning point in your artistic development, where you decided to take a different perspective on things?
My turning point was end of 2017 when I resigned from a high Marketing position in an international corporation. Until that day painting was my hobby, so after leaving 9-5 (mostly 9 -9) stressful job, I started with professional painting and freelance half-time marketing just in order to put painting as primary job by time and importance. After this big lifestyle change, quality of my art work started rapidly increasing. It is different when you paint 8 hours per day, instead of previously 8 hours per year when you find time. I started endlessly exploring ideas of portrait paint on canvas. Somehow my life experiences, my passions and interests, all started manifesting in my artwork and change over time. Through portraits of other people, I actually did numerous portraits of myself as a warrior and chief of my life going through turbulent emotional changes, breakups, changing lifestyles, living periodically in other country, and how I felt being in that space, my personal response. Reevaluating and revoking memories is what inspires me today as well. People recognized that fighting – motivating spirit on my portraits and started following me on Instagram.
Masaai Tribe Warrior
Would you tell us something about your latest project?
My latest project was changing lifestyle mentioned above (from corporate to art life), and I recently moved to art studio to share space with other artists where we can learn from each other. Although I paint portraits by commissions, between those orders is not always easy to find time for new project. But, with good organization, I thrive to develop in my two projects I'm currently working on, and hopefully present it to wider public. First, I am exploring different cultures lately, by periodically putting focus on some country, tribe, and strong characters of older people, still keeping with strong-character portraits. I plan to develop it and present at exhibition during 2022. Meanwhile you can find all my work (commissioned and these non-commissioned paintings at Instagram page @mruzicaart) Second is not kind of specific project, I would rather name it as an experiment: I am also exploring myself and my art work in different types of art at Instagram page @abstract_ruki I have no idea where this will take me, but I will consider it progress if I find myself in one of the topics from this newest profile. Author: Hana Tiro