Artist Interview with Isabelle Reilo Riis

Artist Interview with Isabelle Reilo Riis

While in Lofoten we were lucky enough to stumble into an incredible artist — Isabelle Reilo Riis — to help us bring this scent to life through an original artwork. Isabelle is a Lofoten / Oslo-based Norwegian painter who specializes in abstract style. Her work is often fantastically colorful and draws inspiration from the stunning nature of the far north.

Image of artist Isabelle Reilo Riis

Q. What role does scent play in your life?

A. Scent is important for the full enjoyment of life. Memories are very connected to the scent of things. When I was little we went to Malaysia, and I still remember the magical smell of warm tropical rain. Also, when I’m by the sea and smell the fresh saltwater it brings me back to my happiest moments in life, I feel alive. It’s important for me to surround myself with scents that I enjoy and that brings out good feeling emotions in me. The right scents can make me feel happy, safe, warm, peaceful, inspired, and so much more.

Q. What are some of your favorite scents?

A. I love different scents, and I also love to get surprised by a new scent! Those which I’ve always been drawn to are lemon/lime ish, vanilla/coconut, bergamont and deeper notes, I also love fresh scents that reminds me of the ocean like Arctic Tides.

Q. What are your favorite ways to relax and self-care?

A. My favorite way to relax will ideally first include water. To have a shower/bath with great soaps that makes me feel like I’m at the spa. Then get into comfy clothes and make some ginger tea or a hot chocolate, and something nice to eat. Then light a scented candle, but only natural ones, and hit the couch with soft blankets.

Q. Where do you go to disconnect and recharge?

A. Ooh! If I have the possibility, I will always choose water, being by the sea preferably. That really soothes me and gives me a feeling of serenity and freedom.

If I’m on/in the ocean, that’s even more of a recharge! If the sea is far away then I would find another nature spot and go for a walk/run or just sit quietly in it.

Q. How did you first discover your passion for art, and what led you to pursue it?

A. I’ve painted since I was little, since my mother also is an artist, I painted whenever I felt like it. But there was a clear moment where it went from fun to my biggest passion. I was 17 or 18 years old, and was painting a green abstract painting with a girl in it, and something went POOF! Something just clicked for me. It was like I understood something. From that on, I painted ever day when I could.

Even when I had my fulltime job at 19yrs, for 2 years, I painted every day after work.

Before this I was always looking for my thing, trying out music, clothing design etc, but I feel like with the painting, it found me, because I was certainly not looking to be an artist/painter.

Q. What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

A. Oh, everything. I mean, there is so much inspiration to find everywhere. I also feel that I pick up on a lot of inspiration unconsciously as well. I love colors and composition, and light/contrasts, and I see that in nature, in people, in songs (sort of), in fashion, in films. Feeling is also the common denominator in different art forms, and they all inspire each other.

The feelings I get from certain songs can create a painting, its almost like the feeling attached to the song has a color compound, and I’m making an extension of the music. Same with the feeling you get from a movie, or watching a dance, it’s all the same, just different expression. That’s why I’m obsessed with all the forms of creative creation, I just happen to be more talented in one of them.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? How do you turn inspiration into art?

A. Inspiration is there. Sometimes it comes, sometimes I have to nudge it a little. When my energy is high/good it’s just naturally there. Sometimes I kind of have an idea of where I want to go, but very often I stand in front of a canvas not having any idea at all, and just pick up the color that speaks to me. It’s a very intuitive process, especially with the abstract paintings. I follow a feeling (that’s linked to colors and composition) without knowing where it goes.

I always listen to music when I paint, It helps me set the tone, and really maximize the happy hormones while I’m in the flow. What helps the intuitive process is having a lot of experience in the bottom.

I feel so free and courageous, in the process, because you must be willing to ruin it. It’s what it’s all about, to evolve as an artist (or even in life), you must break out of the known, and step in to the unknown.

As soon as I feel comfortable with a new style, I must challenge/evolve it. It’s the fun part but it can be scary too, if it feels like make it or break it, but that’s the thrill.

There are contrasts in this world, so the lows hits when it doesn’t work out so beautifully, but the more you paint the more you shake it off. The reward I get when things work out is like no other, I feel giddy, it’s like being in love, or getting an exciting opportunity. It’s the best feeling ever!

Q. How do you hope the Arctic Tides artwork will make customers feel?

A. I hope it makes them feel inspired, energized and happy!

I hope they see the painting as a reflection of themselves, as full of life and contrasts, with beautiful depths and wonders, as magical, mystical, light, free and ALIVE creatures. Just like the sea. Just like life. Breathing the ebbs and flows of the tides, feeling the splashes, and riding the waves. 

I hope it sparks the aliveness within you! Remembering that YOU are everything, and that you are free!

Q. Do you have a special vessel in mind for your Arctic Tides candle?

A. Yes I do! I went to a ceramic class last year, and made several vessels that are glaced and ready to become cute candle holders. They are formed like nature, like larger shells almost, very natural in its forms.

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