Ritva Voutila was born in Nokia, Finland.

After finishing high school in Nokia she moved to Helsinki to study art at the School of Art and Design. In 1968 she moved to Australia, and then to Spain in 1971, where she continued perfecting her drawing and painting skills for the next ten years while working in fields as varied as garden design and computer programming and analysis. In 1981 she moved back to Australia, settling down in Sydney.

For the next couple of years she worked as a computer sales representative, but in 1983 she became a full time freelance artist working initially in jewellery design, graphic design and advertising.

Her first children's book, 101 Excuses for Not Doing Homework by Carly Little (Scholastic), appeared in 1990 and it became a great success, having been reprinted several times, and is still in print. Many other books followed. See Booklist.

In 2015 The Stone Lion, illustrated by Ritva and written by Margaret Wild, won the Honour Book of the Year Award from The Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA).

In Sydney, she studied art at Paddington Art School and the Julian Ashton School of Arts. She also holds a BA in Philosophy from Macquarie University, Sydney, and studied Urban Design at Sydney University. She has a special interest in Philosophy for Children.

Ritva is also an accomplished school performer and holds frequent art workshops. Since 1995 she has toured her school programmes throughout Australia to annual audiences of over 20,000 students. 

Twice (1999 and 2005) her show has won a
Frater Award for Excellence in School performances from the NSW State Department of Education and Training.

She lives in Ballarat, 100 km north-west of Melbourne, with her husband Richard.

Artist's Statement

I am interested in human nature, human desires, disappointments, joys and sorrows and what it means to be human.

I am often looking at these characteristics in the context of classic fairytales and folklore, because they are rich in symbolism shared by cultures around the world and through history. And also, because of this shared language of symbolism, the meaning of the painting becomes accessible to everyone.

My attempt is to draw attention to those truths about human nature that remain unchanged even if some beliefs, moral values and codes of social conduct change over the years.

By concentrating on fairytales I am also hoping to add an extra dimension to my art by evoking childhood memories and circumstances where those stories helped one to navigate through life.