Painter Emily Ritz Contemporary Artist Series

Zoom Shoot with Emily Ritz shot by NYC portrait photographer Angela Cappetta

Painter Emily Ritz Contemporary Artist Series

Interview with Painter Emily Ritz|Contemporary Artist Series

Painter Emily Ritz Interviewed and Written by Angela Cappetta

 Emily Ritz Painting for Contemprary Artist Interview with NYC wedding photographer Angela Cappetta
Emily Ritz. Swimmer, 30” x 22”. Mixed media. Contemporary Artist Interview with NYC wedding photographer Angela Cappetta[/caption]

Artist Emily Ritz. Remember this name. Her work is meticulous AF and I can’t get enough of it. I first tripped over her mural commission at Supernatural, a coffee shop I frequent. Then by accident, I found out this painter whose work I went to go visit, was dating a close friend. I’m thrilled to be able to bring her work to my readers. It is important to note, that even before she was “part of the family”, I loved her work. Her website includes an eloquent and comprehensive mission statement:

“Inspired by coral reefs and lush forests, Emily Ritz uses drawing, painting, sculpture and embroidery to bring her unique vision of beauty to life. Everything she creates is done completely by hand and no two pieces are alike. Her love of repetition is quite apparent in the hyper detailed patterns that grow over each piece. For the past nine years Emily Ritz has been developing her own visual language depicting otherworldly landscapes called Lumplands, a playful term she uses to describe her creations. Ritz’s techniques have been developed in order to think as little as possible to let the images flow through in a blissful, natural way thereby creating a medicinal, meditative experience of creation.”

Painter Emily Ritz|Contemporary Artist Series

I saw your murals in Supernatural. I was never sure if the mural motif was made up of flowers, sea creatures or molecules. Am in the ballpark?

Absolutely, you’re in the ballpark. It’s a botanical-inspired world that I call Lumpland. Moreover, I have imagined my own visual language to create it. So, I love the textures of nature. Lichen and moss, seaweed and flowers. All those textures are embedded in my brain. I create my own versions of them. I love them being open to interpretation. Important to note, when I work, I’m not looking at anything and painting it. What I’m seeing in my mind is an amalgamation of what inspires me and I let it drip out through my hands.

You are clearly a patternist. Do you draw these patterns free hand? If yes, how?

I have different mediums and methods. But I start in the center. I know my own patterns so well that I don’t think that much leading up to it. One form comes off of the next and they keep building off of each other. Then, I assign colors to each pattern as I go. If I am doing pen work, it’s the same as if I’m doing brush work. It’s very meditative in that way.

The other method I have requires even less thought, which I love (laughs). I pour liquid water color over wet paper so it bleeds and spreads in organic ways I never could have dreamed of. If I want to make the shape of a body or an animal I wet the paper in that shape and then drip different colors and they don’t bleed outside the wetted area. I used Dr. Ph Martin’s hydrous water colors in dropper bottles. Some are very concentrated and some are very light. There’s a good range. I like to use a limited palette as much as I can. Once the colors dry I draw my patterns on top of them. It’s essentially a backwards coloring book technique.

Emily Ritz water color pattern painting for Contemprary Artist Interview with NYC wedding photographer Angela Cappetta

Emily Ritz. Starry. 30″x 22″. Watercolor and pen pattern painting. Contemporary Artist Interview with NYC wedding photographer Angela Cappetta

I sense a figurative fascination tied to the earth. Hands surrounding moss, or water, etc. A sort of floating above yet inside of it all.
Yes! (Laughs). I love it! There are two things with the body fascination. I was trained in figure drawing and painting. That sparked my life long love of drawing the curvy female body. I was lucky to be trained so well in figure drawing. Proportions and color theory and perspective are now embedded in me like my love of tide pools. I can trust my hands to do the rest. Furthermore, I have had health issues my whole life that have limited my ability to be in the world to some degree. Therefore, I have a complicated relationship with my body-but who doesn’t. Then, I realized if I could draw my own curvy body like in figure painting, the parts that didn’t always fit into the world suddenly made sense. I discovered I love the way my body looks on paper and it helped me love and accept myself.
I know my Lumplands so well, that I can imagine what they’d look like if they were real. As soon as I started putting hands and bodies in the imagery suddenly other people could feel that, too.
Anytime someone sees another human form, they relate to it. So even though it’s me in the drawings they can see themselves. It’s been fun to explore that side of things. I make the work for myself as a healing practice and I share the final product because that part isn’t for me. It’s nice when it speaks to people. I created my own juicy meditative world and I love inviting other people in.
How has your work evolved during/since COVID?
Emily Ritz. To Play or Rest. 44” x 30”. Watercolor on Grey Printmaking Paper.

Emily Ritz. To Play or Rest. 44” x 30”. Watercolor on Grey Printmaking Paper.

The pandemic has been great for my practice bc the world finally moves at my speed. I didn’t have to feel FOMO or like I’m not doing enough. Sitting and making the work is what I do best and now I can focus and share and feel like that’s good enough. I started making new pieces early into quarantine. It was the first work in a decade that didn’t involve my usual botanical patterns. It was amazing, fun and scary. I’ve been in the comfort zone of my visual language and now the bodies are evolving out of that. There’s something about needing to explore that deeper. The experience of being alone and in a body. This collective global experience is bringing so much to the surface about everything that works and doesn’t work outside of us and inside.
Painter Emily Ritz|Contemporary Artist Series
Emily Ritz mural painting for Contemprary Artist Interview with NYC wedding photographer Angela Cappetta

The mural that brought us together. Emily Ritz acrylic wall mural,17×8′ approx. A  public art commission from Supernatural. Contemporary Artist Interview with NYC wedding photographer Angela Cappetta.

Medium and Preferred size to Work?
I’m really excited to work on big paper and fresh water color at a new residency Freight and Volume in 2020. Accordingly, there are a few problematic things about paper. For instance, it is hard to work on something that can only be framed. I mounted paper once, badly.  But If I could get that technique down, I’d prefer to work on paper in this manner. I love working with paper. It is heavenly to me. I’m also going to try something new: I’m excited to try batique! I think my patterns are going to come alive in this new way.
Painter Emily Ritz|Contemporary Artist Series


As a kid I always loved art and as a teenager I studied at Mill Street Loft in Poughkeepsie. My parents encouraged me and I’m so thankful. There, a teacher saw something in me and immediately took me in. Then, he put me on the path to art school. Suddenly, training became my life. I did all their summer programs and took the after school classes. Importantly, this teacher’s whole ideology was underlined by the notion that schools underestimate kids. He taught college level art to high schoolers. His program got millions of dollars worth of scholarships for his students. He was remarkable.
Then I went to CCA in San Franciso, CA.  Because I had already learned studio foundation arts so thoroughly, the painting program was a redo for me. Subsequently, I changed to filmmaking to challenge myself. It was great to learn something new.
In my final year, I picked up painting again. A professor of mine encouraged me to go for it and to let go of all my ideas about concept. He encouraged me to just play. With this in mind, I began painting obsessive organic patterns and never looked back.

To contact Emily for a private commission or to inquire about a purchase email her at

Emily Ritz interview written and edited by NYC fine art wedding photographer Angela Cappetta
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