INTERVIEWS - RUTH ALLEN
OUTDOOR INTERVIEWS - RUTH ALLEN from @Whitepeak_Ruth
Ruth Allen creates art and is Instagramming under (@Whitepeak_Ruth). Artistic and inspirational, she dabbles in a lot of areas but is a bit too modest to take credit for how awesome she is. I sent her one of our paracord bracelets, and in return she let me pick her brain in an interview!
I FIRST FOUND HER ON INSTAGRAM, FALLING FOR HER UNIQUE ART STYLE. I IMMEDIATELY RECOGNISED HER LOVE FOR OUTDOOR ADVENTURES, AND KNEW I HAD TO SHARE HER WITH THE WORLD. HERE'S RUTH.
First of all, on your Instagram it says "Geologist Artist Educator" (It did when this interview was made…). Can you explain a little about what this means?
I change my Instagram message quite often. It represents how I feel at the time, and who I think I am, which can change fairly often. This is a distillation of where I’m at. By training I am a geologist, though I left research because it wasn’t the direction for me. My PhD was with an oil company but similarly I didn’t believe in the ethics of that. So I took a different path and now work full time in Higher Education developing teaching within a variety of disciplines. I love teaching. I love leading and developing and facilitating others. But geology remains in my heart and is my ‘outside of work’ interest, along with creative things. I have a small illustration and art business, and I also write poetry. I’m a bit of all things I guess.
Check out her gorgeous and inspiring Explore With Heart range
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
I suppose my inspiration comes from within. After all, birds with backpacks or walking on stilts, can only even come from an imagined place! I’m passionate about nature, but also people – and I really believe that we need to try harder for each other to create a world we want to live in. I don’t like undue negativity. I believe in working hard, and working positively, and I’m not chasing the dollar. I’m inspired to make affordable, relatable art that people feel speaks to them with a powerful message. Birds are a natural way to do that because I love birds. People always say “why birds” and I always say “why not”. If you spend your life waiting to see bears then you’ll be waiting a while. But birds are everywhere and so characterful. They’re also great predictors of change. So I combine the message that I feel people need, with the imagined pictures in my head; and then a drawing happens.
How does nature affect you in your work?
Well, the outdoors is my home, so when I am surrounded by nature I have all sorts of ideas. They might not be related to my specific surroundings, but being outdoors unlocks my mind to all sorts of things. I’m a little afraid of the urban landscape. I don’t know ‘how to be’ or what to do, and I always feel so out of place; a real country bumpkin. In the city, my inspiration dries up. I never feel alone or unsafe in nature but in an urban area I get lonely and jumpy.
Do you connect with other artists in any way? How?
I suspect other artists don’t take me seriously. Or maybe I just don’t take myself seriously? I only started my art business in 2013, so I haven’t learnt to own the title “artist”. It feels uncomfortable. This is probably why I preface it with geo or educator. I still think of myself as a scientist who draws things. I lurk on social media and admire other artists from afar, but I feel dwarfed by them. I’m guilty of comparing myself often. I try and seek other artists (and people generally) who nourish and inspire. I don’t want to be the type of person that makes people feel bad, so I seek others who are just doing their own thing with humility.
You're going through some changes in your art. Why do you feel the need to change, and what direction are you taking?
I don’t feel the need to per se, but it’s important to grow and develop as an artist (and a person) isn’t it? My interests are broad and I love lots of different things. I throw myself in with passion, and this gets reflected in trying different ideas and approaches. But I’m really pleased with my new collection Explore with Heart, because it represents the first time I have pulled together the different things that I love. It’s only recently that I have started to feel ok with sharing all the different bits of my life. I’ve not wanted to scare off the art people by posting too many outdoorsy pictures on Instagram and vice versa. Now I’m at a point where I think; this is me so take it or leave it. Consequently, I’m moving in a more authentic direction. Authenticity is a big thing for how I want to live: my own personal blog is based around this. I’m changing in the direction of authenticity if you like.
AND JUST BECAUSE I LOVE THIS SO MUCH, THE PIVOT QUESTIONNAIRE:
What is your favorite word?
Oh, where do I start? I’m such a wordie. Today, I love the word aeronautical (which is odd because I’m terrified of flying. I do fly, but I hate it.) I actually really like military terms. Coincidentally, I really like the word Paracord!
What is your least favorite word?
This is easy and never changes. I hate the word ‘Kibosh’. It pains me to write it, say it or hear it. Urgh!
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Mountains. Air so cold and fresh that it stings your throat. Knowing that change comes fast. Believing that you reap what you sow. Good people with heart and passion to do good. People that are positive even when things are difficult. Fish and Chips eaten out of the wrapper. People who let you grow and encourage your dreams. Sleeping outside. Remembering we’re all just energy. Having a cold drink when you’re hot. Putting on a warm jumper when you’re cold. The simplest of things.
What turns you off?
Half of the Instagram accounts that spam me. Men who think women should be domestic. Too much time indoors. Fashion blogs. Anti-ageing promises. People that don’t take an interest in the world around them. Know-it-alls. People who just want to go shopping. Good looking people with no soul or character.
What is your favorite curse word?
What sound or noise do you love?
I love sleeping in a valley and hearing the wind rolling down the side of the hill. You can hear it approach and it’s terrifying. Also thunder, and the clanging of boat rigging. Breaking twigs. The roar of a gas canister heating water. Birds talking to each other.
What sound or noise do you hate?
The chatter of a crowd. Feedback from speakers. Motorbikes when you’re enjoying the silence of the countryside. I used to ride a motorbike, and I loved it. Now I don’t anymore and the noise is such an irritation. I like the sound on its own but for others it’s a pain. Go make bike noise in the wilderness!
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Oh, my biggest dream was to become a Vet. I wanted to work with animals for the longest time. I did work experience at a surgery and I planned for this for many years. I chose geology, which wasn’t a bad choice of course, but Veterinary will always be ‘the one that got away’. I thought about retraining a few years back, but when I turned 30 I realised it was too late; too expensive mainly.
What profession would you not like to do?
My parents were both nurses. Very noble, but I couldn’t cope with it. My dad worked tirelessly in Accident and Emergency, then died suddenly a few years ago. It all felt for nothing. I couldn’t do that. I could also not work in banking. Oh and for a while I wanted to be Prime Minister (I was 12) but now I think “what the hell was that about!” Who would be a politician? Basically, if it involves working in London or any other capital then I am not interested.
Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I hope he/she would say ‘woof’ and lick my face. Ha! If there’s a god, it can’t be human surely? It’s got to be the utter conceit to think it would be like us, as if we were that awesome. Look at what we do to each other in this world. It frightens me. No, God would be something wholly perfect and I wouldn’t understand its language as a result.
I'd like to thank Ruth for the interview, and recommend everyone to check out her Instagram, her blog and her web shop. She sent me some lovely notebooks and postcards, which I really want to keep for myself, while at the same time send them to everyone I know!