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Angelina Ritchie-Smith: expressing ‘Wonder’ on canvas

Thanks to our community of Patrons, we helped abstract painter Angelina Ritchie-Smith to take part in a London exhibition. Although an experienced illustrator and designer, Angelina took up the paintbrush in lockdown—and hasn’t looked back since.

We love to support artists like Angelina, whose spirituality informs their work but can still talk to a broader audience than the church. Why not join our Patrons scheme for as little as £5 / month – and we can keep supporting great projects like this.

Hi Angelina. Who are you and what do you do?

 I’m Angelina, a wife and also a mother to a strong-willed beautiful 4-year-old girl named Halcyon. I’m an Australian who moved to the UK 10 years ago. 

I am a self-taught abstract artist, only having begun my art journey in early 2021. It was because of Halcyon. We were painting stick figures and green giraffes. I am a woman of purpose so I thought, why don’t I get my own canvas and paint beside her. I thought I couldn’t paint until then. Sure, I’m trained in fashion design and graphic design and am also an illustrator but I didn’t know how to paint… it turns out I was trying to paint faces and landscapes which I’m no good at! 

Until now it’s been part-time, as my daughter has only been in nursery part-time. Now she’s in school full-time, I am focusing on my art a bit more. 

Through our patrons scheme, we are supporting you in an upcoming exhibition you are part of. Can you tell us more about this?

Sputnik helped me to participate in an exhibition in London recently, where I was an honorary prize winner from last year’s competition: the Holly Bush Emerging Female Painter prize. 

I won the Tim May memorial award within last year’s prize, yet because of lockdown restrictions, we never held the exhibition—I only received my award via Zoom. So with this year’s competition, although my entry only reached the longlisting stage, I was allowed to have my painting Wonder in the exhibition.

It was so nice to meet last year’s prize winners, as well as this year’s too. The Holly Bush art prize champions women artists and I think there was about 11 awards within last year’s prize. In 2021, I was lucky enough to gain a £1,500 cash prize which helped to fund my art further. 

Wonder was inspired by the song Wonder by Hillsong as it made me imagine what the creation of the world was like. The energy of the spoken word. I imagine it being full of electricity, excitement and power. 

Your use of colour is striking in your work. You obviously care about colour! Do you think that God cares about colour too? What do you think we can learn from the colours he has built into our experience of reality?

 Don’t get me wrong, black is powerful too, and the use of monochrome in paintings can still be beautiful. But when vibrant colours are used (especially gold… I’m kind of obsessed. I don’t know why, it just seems magical), it becomes therapy. I love colour theory and the meaning behind it. I paint for my moods, blue when I need some calm, bright yellow when I’m feeling optimistic and excited and so on. 

Yes, God made us in His image and if He can make something as awesome as the earth and all of the galaxies, then certainly we were born to create too… yes, even the non-creative people (they just do it in a different, more analytical way). I guess He wants to teach us to take time for inner care. If we are constantly serving and working, we burn ourselves out. Besides worship, He wants us to literally stand in awe of the creation as it benefits us and our health. 

Abstract art is an artform that is often seen to place the meaning very much in the eye of the beholder. Do you try to communicate in your work and if so, how?

Sometimes I intentionally set out with a theme in mind before I paint, eg: Wonder, Joy around being happy etc. Other times I just want to create but I don’t know what or why. I just start to paint. Later it actually helps me to understand what I was feeling eg: passion or calmness etc. It’s like a dancer, sometimes they can plan a routine but sometimes it’s the most improvised pieces that are the most beautiful. 

To stay connected with Angelina and her work, you can follow her on Instagram, or check out her website.