Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Pat Dunigan. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

I pulled up to Pat Dunigan’s studio on Locust Point Road at dusk to a bright, colorful magical little hideaway. The building has been owned by the same family for over a hundred years, it was built in the late 1800’s. Her studio, a portion of the building had once been the Locust Point Road Post Office, one of several post office locations serving the area of “Oceanic” (later to be named, “Rumson”). With the door open wide to the main road outside on a lovely, late summer night in a room filled with colorful, whimsical artwork practically spilling out door, we talked ART.

Tell me about your art background? Art School or Self-Taught?

I went to Skidmore to study languages but ended up taking more art classes than language. I also went to Parsons School of Design to create my portfolio needed to work in advertising. I have worked in advertising since I was 23 all over the world. Many years ago, while doing a lot of long plane travel, I started filling notebooks with collage designs made from pieces of colors torn from magazines. I made about a dozen books, got busy with life and put them away for 20 years.

What brought you to create the art that you make?

Several years ago, I went back to those collage notebooks. I pulled them out and started looking through them and thought, “These are pretty good!” They were the inspiration for my art. They inspired me to translate them into paintings. I also make 3D sculptural versions of some of the designs.

What is your process with your art making?

My work is all about color. For the work I do that is based on collage and graphic designs, I start with cut out pieces of colored paper torn from magazines. I’ll make dozens of collages and photograph them. Then I enlarge them and they become the models for my paintings. These paintings are made with a more precise process of creating the hard lines and shapes. For my freeform and more recent work with flowers, I sometimes start with photos that I have taken of shapes – things I see on the streets of NYC or shapes I see in my garden. My process for making these paintings starts with a base color that is applied with large pieces of hard rubber (like a squeegee). I create several layers of different colors. I then start painting the shapes over them. I also work with oil sticks to add drawing elements to the shapes, which also adds texture to the painting. After all the base colors are applied and the flower is painted, the drawing happens – very fast and spontaneously. I’ll do a layer and then let it sit for a while before coming back with the
next layers.

What inspires you?

Color. Interesting shapes. Imperfect things. Years ago, I worked for many years with a film director in Australia, who was also a photographer and painter. We traveled all over the world, and I learned from him to really see things through an “artist’s eye”. To see connections between things, to notice colors, light and shapes in the most ordinary things.

If or when you get lost in an “art funk” (like writer’s block for artists), what helps you get back to creating?

If I don’t know what to do next on a collage-like painting, I get back to work on a flower painting. I switch back and forth between the two. Sometimes I jump to working with wood blocks to create 3D pieces and mobiles.

How do you think the community can better support their artists?

I would love to see landlords turn unused buildings into art studios.

You can find Pat’s work on her website: or on
Instagram: @patdunigan