Due to cerebral palsy Risto Toivanen's arms have been paralysed since birth. When he was only three years old he learned to perform the most important everyday tasks with his feet. His ability to express himself artistically evolved gradually from writing and drawing exercises. He attended primary and secondary school and subsequently studied at the university in Jyväskylä. In 1968 he received a scholarship from the Association. This enabled him to work more intensively on his painting. He became full member of the VDMFK in 1974.
Risto Toivanen uses a great variety of techniques and materials but is especially fond of acrylics and oils. His landscapes and compositions are painted in an abstract manner. He can look back on numerous contributions to group exhibitions at home and abroad.