Thursday, June 14, 2012

Risa Tritabaugh - Painter

All Jazzed Up  9"x12"
Risa Tritabaugh

Name:  Risa Tritabaugh
City/State:  St. Paul, MN
Twitter: @ createdbyrisa

I grew up in outstate Minnesota, where there were few opportunities to experience art 
outside the school classroom. But throughout school, I took advantage of every art class offered 
and upon graduation, headed off to the big city: Minneapolis. There I was inspired by the riches 
found at local art museums and started taking art classes at the University of Minnesota.

Life, however, has taken many detours along the way. In my late twenties, I went through an 
ugly divorce and faced raising two children on my own. Making art was something I continued to 
do, but for my own gratification. Things began to shift a few years ago when my children 
became adults. I rented a studio in Lowertown St. Paul and started painting like crazy.  

Since that time, I have participated in several St. Paul Art Crawls and have shown work at 
other venues.  Currently, I live in Lowertown's Tilsner Artist Co-operative, alongside my 
actor/writer husband, Joel Thingvall.

Why Does It Hurt So Bad  30x30

Tell me about your work space and creative process.

Since I live in an artist co-operative, my studio is located in my home. There are pros and cons 
to working at home, but one of the pluses is painting in your jammies!  Our loft has 18 foot 
ceilings, exposed brick, and floor-to- ceiling windows. The room I work in has 15 foot windows 
that let in lots of light--perfect for a painter!

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. My process is a bit different than most 
painters--I work with my painting surface (stretched canvas or wood panels) laid flat on a work 
table. I apply many layers of color and texture, using paint and mediums such as light molding 
paste. Working with a palette knife or a brush, I lay down many layers of color, often using a 
cloth or even my fingers to blend or wipe away colors to reveal the mystery of what lies beneath.           

Undercurrent  6"x6"

What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
The past few years have been a period of great growth for me as an artist. I've been participating 
in a Mentor Program offered by WARM (Women's Art Resources of Minnesota).  The program 
pairs an emerging artist with a more experienced professional artist. I've wanted to do the 
program for years and ironically, a layoff gave me the courage to do it!  And it has paid off in 
BIG ways! I meet with my fabulous mentor, Brenna Busse, every month and we discuss what 
I've been working on, what direction I want my work to go... 

Over the course of the past year, my work has become increasingly abstract in nature.  When I'm painting, I feel as if I am communicating very intimately with the paint and canvas. I strive to 
capture a moment or perhaps the emotion connected to a place or time in our lives. We have all experienced significant life events that burn an impression in our memory. In recent work I hope to give a creative voice to those moments of despair, terror and even joy that we carry deep within.

Currently, I am finishing pieces for a two-person exhibit to be held this summer at the Woman's Building in St. Paul. 

Hit or Miss  36"x36"

How did you decide to become an artist?
I was first inspired to be an artist when my oldest brother came home from college with a poster of 
a Renoir painting.  I knew then that I wanted to be a painter. Of course, it hasn't been an easy 
course to take. What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

Trust your process... and ... Follow your passion. 

Hit or Miss  36"x36" - detail

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  
How do you market yourself?

I took a break this spring, but have been participating in local art crawls for the past 5 years. 
At this point, I am hoping to show my work in more group exhibits and hopefully soon, local galleries. 

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

I have been blessed to know personally and professionally some very talented local painters, 
who happen to be women. They rock!

Brenna Busse
Marcia Soderman
Tara Tieso
T. Young (aka Tracy Olson)

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go?
 What would we see?

I have always loved the Minneapolis Institute of Arts ( -- it is where I still go 
to find beauty  on a bad day. I also enjoy stopping at the Grand Hand ( ). When time permits, I love to venture to Northfield and stop at the Northfield Arts Guild 
( or even cross state lines to visit the Phipps 

Midnight Dream  6"x6"

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

MNArtists -
Springboard for the Arts -

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

I have a two person show with fellow WARM artist Geneva Costa (
coming up this summer at the Women's Building in St. Paul (550 Rice Street). 
WARM (Women's Art Resources of Minnesota)
The show will open June 18th, 2012 with an artist reception on Friday, June 29th from 6-9 pm.

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