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Spotlight on: Stef Rapoza

May 01, 2024 09:41AM ● By John Facundo

Stef Rapoza has been an artist for as long as she can remember, but her creative zeal was reawakened after the birth of her first child in 2017.

“It was a momentous event that stirred something within me,” recalls the Roseville-based painter. When a friend made an off-hand remark that her daughter was “a little artiste,” it prompted Rapoza to ponder why she’d let her own passion for drawing slip away.

“That evening, for the first time in years, I picked up my sketchbook and drew. And just like that, my artistic flame reignited, marking the beginning of a new chapter in my creative journey.”

Rapoza now finds great joy in expressing herself through abstract painting. Her work was recently exhibited at Blue Line Arts in Roseville and Urban Hive Gallery in Sacramento and can be viewed on her website (


How did you get your start as an artist?

At age eight, I stumbled upon my knack for drawing when replicating Fred Flintstone on the back of a Fruity Pebbles box. It was a defining moment that sparked my creative journey, one marked by drawing cartoons and animals mostly for family members.

In high school, I began drawing photorealistic images, but I chose to study graphic design in college because it was the “safe route.” I then went on an eight-year hiatus from traditional art with a job that demanded primarily computer work.

Contrast in Bloom


What appeals to you about creating abstract art?

I love that it gives me the opportunity to create something novel from my imagination. The arrangement of shapes, colors, and lines work into an original piece, which gives me greater joy and surpasses anything I’ve experienced with representational work. 

Sketching out these ideas as they come to me feels liberating, like a rush of untapped potential waiting to be unleashed. When those sketches are refined into full-scale paintings it’s  beyond rewarding. For me, abstract art isn’t just about what I see; it’s about the raw emotion and expression that comes from within.

You primarily work with acrylic paint. Why are you drawn to this medium?

It lets me work at my own pace. I crave the immediacy that acrylics offer, allowing me to build up layers and texture without waiting for paint to dry.

This medium also aligns with my creative process. I’ve come to realize that if I had ample time to ponder my next move, I’d likely overthink it. Instead, I prefer to trust my instincts and make bold gestures on the canvas in the moment. There’s a raw energy that comes from working intuitively, capturing those spontaneous strokes before my rational mind has a chance to intervene.

How do you choose your subjects?

My creative journey has always been guided by a simple principle: Follow what fascinates me. I firmly believe that by pursuing my own interests, my work will naturally resonate with others who share those passions.

New Horizons


Where do you find your inspiration?

In my previous series, Reflected Skies, I drew inspiration from my emotions and channeled the currents of my inner landscape onto the canvas. Each painting reflected my state of mind at the time. 

In my new collection, Forms of Energy, I draw inspiration from the contours of modern design and the exploration of interesting shapes. The pieces are born from stream of consciousness drawings with each composition capturing the interactions between elements.

I’ve come to view each artistic phase as embodying a chapter in my life. Reflected Skies came about during a period of deep introspection, coinciding with the birth of my second child. Now, as I turn 40 this year, I find myself entering a bold, new chapter in my life filled with confidence and self-assurance.

What do you hope viewers experience through your art?

I hope people draw their own meaning and feeling about it. I seek to unveil the hidden dialogues and tensions that arise as these elements intertwine, creating a visual symphony of form and feeling; ultimately, though, it’s up to the viewer when it comes to their experience and how they feel about it.

Rocky Road to the Villa


What do you wish more people understood about abstract art?

It’s amusing how often we hear the dismissive comment, “My child could have made that,” when faced with abstract art. Yet, I see it as a symptom of a broader misunderstanding—a failure to grasp the intricacies of abstract expressionism and the profound journey of the artist behind the canvas. 

Even icons like Jackson Pollock didn’t arrive at their revolutionary techniques by mere happenstance. Behind every splatter of paint lies a narrative of deep exploration and introspection. It’s not about what you see on the surface, but rather about the emotions and sensations it evokes within you. 

What’s the best compliment you could get about your art?

“Your art resonates with me.” 

With Lanterns


by Jennifer Maragoni
Photos of Stef Rapoza by Jyo Bhamidipat ©stylemediagroup.
Artwork images courtesy of Stef Rapoza.