Artists We Love: Ruschka Du Toit

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES Courtesy of @ruschkadutoit PORTRAITS @honestwork_maike

Fine artist and illustrator Ruschka du Doit’s switch from science to art in high school, led to a career in art that nods to the emotive creations of bygone Post-Impressionist painters.

When did you start creating art?

At the age of 16 I was doing really poorly in science class, and in order to drop it I had to take art. That’s where it started, if you don’t count my collages of Leonardo diCaprio and the cast of 90210 as a tween. High school art class really changed everything for me and that’s when I fell in love with painting.

Ruschka Du Toit

Tell us about your loose and free style?

I’ve always been inspired by Post-Impressionist painters like Van Gogh and Matisse and how their work seems to ‘vibrate’ and contain emotion. I work fast and intuitively, and because I work with ink, there isn’t a lot of time to overthink, which is really great for my overthinking brain. I am not too concerned about painting something exactly as it is but rather as I see or feel it.

What is your favourite subject matter? 

Plants, portraits and still lives in the context of everyday life. The mundane can be very beautiful if you take the time to notice. 

Ruschka du toit

How does your work differ from your art to your illustration?

I don’t think it differs that much stylistically. With illustration work, I will often work digitally and in more detail but the lines are still mine. The biggest difference is that with illustration there is a client brief. But, the reason clients come to me for illustrations is because their brand or message aligns with my style of work.

Do you have a preferred medium or do you change depending on your mood?

The medium depends on the work and the mood I want it to convey. If I want a bit more control and more pronounced brushstrokes I will use acrylic paint but mostly I work in acrylic inks. Honestly, I play a lot too, so I am not too precious about the medium. I do what feels right.

Ruschka Du Toit

How have you noticed your art evolving over the years?

I have tried different mediums and experimented a lot more. I have learned a lot about colour and considered the things I paint a bit more.

More recently, I have started a mentorship with Katherine Bull and am learning so much from her. It has inspired my process and my thinking. Not having studied art, there is so much of the technicality of making work that I am learning. 

What does a regular day look like?

Never the same if I am honest. 

I love to sleep so my mornings are slow. My husband brings me coffee in bed every morning and I’ll check up on social media, do the daily Wordle and plan my day.

I usually get to the studio by 10 am and start with desk work and admin. I do visual design for local jewellery brand PICHULIK and pattern design for local rug company Coral & Hive so my mornings are usually dedicated to design tasks and admin and my afternoons to painting. If I am having a productive day I will leave work around 4 pm and try to do some exercise. My evenings are usually spent reading and more recently I have become obsessed with the NYT crossword puzzles so I do a lot of that.

Do you draw from memory or use references?

I mostly use images from my camera roll as references or draw from my imagination. Recently I have also started using AI to generate reference images. 

What are your plans for the rest of 2023 into 2024?

Hopefully, lots of painting and illustrating! I am busy creating a body of work that I hope to exhibit early next year. I have been working a lot with Tina at Source Artistry selling existing work and creating commissions for interior spaces. I am also recently represented by Butter as an illustrator and have a very exciting potential collaboration in the pipeline.

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