Artist Interview - Racheal Scotland

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Racheal Scotland, but Rae is just fine. I am a traditional artist living in Chicago, IL. My favorite medium is oil paint! I love working with the portrait, more so imaginative portraits or characters. In a sense, my subjects are very reminiscent or familiar even though I don’t work with models.


Why do you do what you do?

I love creating art. I love painting faces, nature, or whatever my imagination decides is my next obsession. Other than that, it feels like a natural calling, it feels right to wake up to produce art.


You use so many vibrant colors, do you have any that you favor?

Yes! I love working with color, and some colors are the favorites of the week. I do find myself including purple or wanting to use purple. I love the range of purples; dusky sky purples, jewel-tone purples, earthy purples. I recently fell in love with painting variations of green too.


What inspires your art?

There’s so much that inspires my art, but mostly memories/nostalgia, nature, and culture. Those are probably the driving force to what I find inspirational. It’s very open and personal and allows me to maneuver comfortably in the work I create. Although my work is centered around the portrait, I want to communicate familiarity with the viewer.


How and when did you get into art?

Art runs in my family, so naturally, I gravitated toward it at a very early age. The earliest memory I can recall is in pre-school, looking down at my hands covered in paint! I was hooked. However, I got into oil painting after a few years of practicing digital art and wanted to return back to my love for traditional mediums.


How has your practice changed over time?

At first, I used to be hesitant with painting, overly precious with more costly materials. Now I tell myself I work in abundance and everything that is needed will be provided. I’m allowing myself to explore and to play to find new things that I want to bring into my artworks. I may nitpick down to the last detail, but I’m doing it with a little more paint on my brush.


What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?

Anubis. It was my first time tackling such a large canvas 24” x 30” in. It was the process that I enjoyed the most. It was manipulating the paint, glazing, scrubbing into the canvas, reworking an entire area over and over. Doing all this showed me I didn't have to fear a larger canvas, it was more fun getting to create with my whole body.


What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?

“Have a little fun instead”. It was the most enlightening advice not intended for art at all, but I’ve hung on to these words whenever I felt any sign of resistance.


What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?

It’s a new technique for me, but oil painting on paper. I transfer my drawing on paper with willow charcoal, then seal it with 2 coats of matte medium. After the last coat has dried, I tone my paper with vibrant colors of inks. Seeing peeks of the undertone interacting with layers of oil paint is exciting.


Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?

It’s okay to paint over areas that aren’t working. When I see something that isn’t working in a piece, I will take a photo and drop it into photoshop. This gives me a chance to rework areas or colors. Sometimes I don’t go into photoshop and rely on my gut instincts to make decisions. It feels risky, but a lot of the time it’s rewarding.


What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?

I love working with Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor journal paper. Not only is the paper sturdy, but it also has an amazing texture. When I’m experimenting with watercolors, it doesn’t fuss with water or peel ridiculously.


What art materials could you not live without?

I could not go on without my oil paints.


What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?

Other than purples, I do like working with blues too. I’m more drawn to richer, warmer blues. They immediately make me think tranquility, discovery, or royalty.


Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?

My biggest influence was my uncle, he’s an artist too. I always wanted to see what he was working on when I visited him. He shared what he learned with me and I would go home and try to practice. He still is one of my biggest influences today and I share everything I know now with him.


What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?

The question I get asked the most is, “what varnish do you use?”.


Website/social media links:

My website:

Instagram: @_rae.denise_

Go back