Risa Tritabaugh grew up in small town Minnesota, where there were few opportunities to experience art outside the school classroom. Regardless, her love for art grew and at an early age she came to the realization that she wanted to be an artist , specifically a painter. “My oldest brother came home from college with a poster of a Renoir painting. Looking at it, I had my earliest ‘aha’ moment...feeling deep inside the call to be a painter.”
Risa has been painting throughout her adult life, even while raising two children on her own. But recently when her children struck out on their own, the time and space to spend more time on her artwork became available. In 2007 Risa rented a studio in the artist community of Lowertown St. Paul. With a separate space dedicated to painting, Risa began producing more work, and in the Fall of 2007 opened her studio for the St. Paul Art Crawl.
Risa moved into the Tilsner Artist Co-operative in 2009 with her actor husband, Joel Thingvall. Her painting studio is now located in their home at the Tilsner. Risa participated in the WARM Mentor/Protegee Program in 2011-12 and has recently joined the board for WARM. Risa continues to participate in the St. Paul Art Crawl, as well as exhibit her work in other venues.
"When I am painting, I feel as if I am communicating very intimately with the paint and canvas."
This has been a time of great growth for me as an artist. I continue to paint with acrylics–and enjoy pushing the limits of the medium. Acrylics compel me to work quickly, forcing me to think on my feet. I have begun incorporating more depth and texture in my paintings with the use of light molding paste and other gel mediums. Working with a palette knife or brush, I lay down layers upon layers of color and texture, often using a cloth or even my fingers to blend or wipe away colors to reveal the mystery of what lies beneath. Often times it is as if the painting reveals itself as I work. Sometimes this happens very quickly and other times it takes a great deal longer--it is very much a back and forth/give and take kind of process.
My work is increasingly abstract in nature, often without reference to “recognizable” subject matter or forms. In my abstract work, I explore moments/events in life that are emotional in nature, but difficult to express or explain with words. Through the use of color, texture, shapes, and movement, I hope to evoke an emotional response in the viewer.
Though the work has been challenging at times, painting continues to be healing and transformative. Even in the most difficult times of our life, I believe that if we dig deep enough we can tap into our own personal well of hope and courage. In my work, I strive to give creative voice to those moments of joy, despair and even terror that we carry deep within.