Collage begets Painting

Taking the “Experimenting with Collage” class at MoMA reminds me of another “drawing with scissors” experience. This one happened at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. The collage (currently hidden in a stack of stored art or long gone) was a study of my impression of the Gulf of Mexico. Only ten minutes from my home, I went most days at sunset and walked the white quartz sand beaches on one of the Keys. The waves had slow, gentle roll, unlike the Atlantic Ocean waves which had been my childhood point of reference. The waters were an exquisite aqua blue – so Caribbean. At the time, I was also immersed in the Miami-Cuban culture of the gallery owner who repped my art work. I never tired of trips to Miami because I love the local colors, a palette so vivid and intense and upbeat.

Below is a large painting inspired by my collage study. Curiously, this painting titled “Waves: Gulf of Mexico” hangs in a home overlooking the Hudson River.

“Waves: Gulf of Mexico” (2005)
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick
Acrylic, charcoal, gesso on canvas | 60” x 48”

Here are close-ups of the charcoal line drawing, broken charcoal nibs (happy accidents always welcome) and acrylic paint.



Enjoy your week and have a Happy Thanksgiving.


Collage Paintings with MoMA

Back in 2010, I enrolled in a MoMA experiment which was interested in how well a studio art class could be taught online. The New York museum timed the painting curriculum and exercises with the launch of a major Abstract Expressionist retrospective.  The experience for all involved was successful. Still offered, I highly recommend “Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting” for folks wanting to paint and learn more about the AbEx movement.

This October, I enrolled in another online MoMA class, “Experimenting with Collage.” I’d like to share one class assignment.

We were given instructions about “drawing with scissors,” which meant we were to follow a method Matisse used as he began to lose eyesight in his later years. He’d select brightly colored papers, cut lines and shapes, and then tell his studio assistant where to place each piece on a supportive surface.

My collage “paintings” from cut papers were inspired by…..

Bocce ball parties

Halloween, my favorite holiday

Fall season, leaves piled in my front yard

One summer season when my dressing style included a dainty, rhinestone flower toe ring

I’ll be back in two weeks, on November 18th, with a new post. Enjoy your week.


Sunday in the Park

This weekend was the grand opening of Klyde Warren Park. A visionary concept for forty years and under construction for the past three years, this 5.2 acre engineering feat spans over Woodall Rodgers Freeway and creates a walk-friendly green link between the Dallas Arts District and Uptown neighborhoods.

I went today – participated in events, ate lots of food, and watched a mass of people enjoy the weather and performances by talented students from Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet School.

The Dallas Center for Architecture hosted a game table upon which children collectively built a Dr. Seuss-worth city. Each started with a 4” x 6” plot of land, materials and their imagination. Here’s some of their work.

Others chose to learn knitting from the Shabby Sheep (2112 Boll Street) staff.

Master knitters covered tree trunks with their intricate handiwork.

Lots of parents strolled around with their kids.

Dogs and owners were in no rush.

This was the start of free yoga and tai chi classes in the park.

Thinking of Stephen Sondheim’s Sundays in the Park with George, there probably were many Georges present today. Georges Seurat would have been proud of the single-minded focus of many Dallasites who made this weekend’s opening a reality.

If you are interested in how Klyde Warren Park was championed, designed and built, visit an excellent exhibition on this subject at the Dallas Center for Architecture – runs through November 9th. The building is located on 1909 Woodall Rodgers, across from the northern edge of the park. Look for a blue-and-white lettered sign, “The Five Star Institute,” towards the top.


Hope to see you in the park. It’s fun to imagine you’re walking above a busy, noisy freeway completely oblivious to it being there, if you didn’t know otherwise.

Enjoy your week,


The Dallas Arts Community – It’s Pretty Fantastic

Looking back on last week, it reminds me once again that Dallas has matured into an interesting city with both breadth and depth in the arts – enriched by  a wonderful community of museums, galleries, philanthropists, developers, educators, artists and overlapping circles of networkers all of whom are open to sharing their talents. Here’s a snapshot….


Monday night was a déjà-vu event for two of my friends who are artists and aficionados of well-done independent or documentary films about artists.  Anita Horton recently wrote her weekly blog about the film gatherings she and others organized in the late 1990’s. She really missed these viewings. Coincidentally, another friend Elle Shuster, a jewelry designer and photographer, decided to organize a film group on Monday night. She wanted to see Spike Jonze’s The Fall again, and sent a viewing invitation which I extended (with permission) to Anita. More friends were made – the creative circle expands.



I’ve had this particular Tuesday Evenings at the Modern on my calendar for months. In case you can’t tell from my previous blogs, I am a big Lucien Freud fan and have been to the Modern many times to see his portraits. Well, last Tuesday several friends and I carpooled over to Fort Worth to hear Martin Gayford, the British critic, writer, curator and subject of painting, “The Man in a Blue Scarf” (see image above).

Gayford traveled 60 miles from his home to Freud’s studio one to three times a week for six months. Freud, being attuned to slight variations in color and a stickler for consistency, required that the same pink shirt, blue scarf and other clothing be worn for each sitting. Gayford owned two blue scarves which looked the same to his eyes; but on arriving at the studio one night, Freud knew the blue was off, and asked if Gayford had worn the wrong scarf. He had.

I whole-heartedly recommend the next talk at the Tuesday Evenings at the Modern where the artist Bruce Nauman, a pioneer in many multi-media disciplines, will speak on November 13th at 7:00 PM. It’s free – get your ticket when the front desk opens at 5 PM.

And, notice the large (you can’t miss it) sculpture at the main entrance. The artist is Brooklyn-based KAWS and the piece is called “Companion (Passing Through).”


The Dallas Center for Architecture (DCFA), located on 1909 Woodall Rodgers near the Northwest corner of the soon-to-be opened Klyde Warren Park, hosted another Wednesday Film Series. Women in the Dirt: Landscape Architects Shaping our World won Best Feature Documentary in the 2011 Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. The paths of seven professional women, who are the grand dames in the field of landscape architecture and trendsetters in California, were traced. After the movie, Greg Brown, DCFA’s energetic Program Director, facilitated an engaging discussion.



One of my favorite special interest groups is the Avant-Garde Society (AGS) at the Nasher Sculpture Center. The AGS mission is to provide opportunities to learn more about modern and contemporary sculpture and architecture in a welcoming and informal environment. Thursday was the second year for Art Y’All, the annual members’ party, which has – as the name implies – a Texas two-step, fun vibe. Once again, photographer Steve Wrubel was the entertaining auctioneer, selling three sculptures to raise funds for the AGS and innovative Sightings exhibitions. Curator Jed Morse asked three well-known, local artist couples to collaborate and make a sculpture to be auctioned. Couples from left to right in the image above: A big thank you to Tom Orr and Frances Bagley, Benito Huerta and Janet Chaffee and Terri Thornton and Cam Schoepp for their three pieces of art that warranted the evening’s competitive bidding.

For anyone who wants to join this group, the next event is December 5th at The Mason Bar for the annual Holiday Happy Hour. January 12th is an exclusive tour of the Art Warehouse owned by art collectors Rachofsky and Faulconers. And, on March 2nd, we’ll take a day trip to see collections and studios in the Big Easy City, New Orleans. Click here for membership information.


I’m a DCFA docent who’s trained in the history and architecture of the Dallas Arts District. On Saturday, I gave a special tour to three visitors from Denver who were a delight and very knowledgeable which is not surprising given the guests were Curtis Fentress, founder of Fentress Architects which won the AIA’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, the CEO Agatha Kessler and CFO Colin Lewis who had previously worked for the City of Denver and on the growth of their Arts District. Mr. Fentress knew the Wyly Theater well because he was a member on the AIA Jury that conferred the 2011 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture on this innovative theater.

The four of us walked back to the Nasher where they continued with an audio tour; and I had lunch before a lecture in the Nasher’s 360 Speakers Series.

Dr. Catherine Croft, Adjunct Assistant Curator at the Nasher, presented the themes in her recently released book, An Audience of Artists: Dada, Neo-Dada, and the Emergence of Abstract Expressionism. She posed questions: Was Dada a movement or an attitude? Can an artist looking at and responding to another artist’s work create original art?

After Catherine’s presentation, I talked with Karen Weiner, gallery owner of The Reading Room, who had been a panelist at The MAC on Thursday night. Complementary themes were discussed by her panel titled, “The Anxiety of Influence,” a term coined by literary critic Harold Bloom. The panel explored Bloom’s tenet of creativity: Since we are all influenced by something, this phenomena can cause self doubt in a poet (or artist) about the possibility of making any truly original works of art.

“The Anxiety of Influence” was part of “Spin Off: A Series of Panel Discussions” sponsored City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. The MAC (McKinney Avenue Contemporary) | 3120 McKinney Avenue

The last stop before heading home on Saturday afternoon was with Connie Chantilis, mosaic artist and owner of Two Sisters Catering, and her studio which was open to the public as part of the annual White Rock Lake Studio Tour. Her Little Forest Hills’ studio complex sits behind her custom-designed, eco-friendly contemporary home.

Enjoy your week…I’ll be back in two weeks on October 28th.


Kent and Tracy Rathbun’s 9th Annual Art Party – Tickets Sold Out

Since this was the 9th year for the Rathbun’s Art Party, artist Scott Harben used the Chinese symbol for nine in his invitation design.

Back in 2001, the restaurateurs and art connoisseurs Kent and Tracy Rathbun threw a housewarming party to thank the crew who helped build their new home. For that night, they created a “pop-up gallery “ – well before this term and art venue were all the rage – by inviting local artists, some of whom worked in the couple’s restaurants, to exhibit their art for sale.

 Kent said he saw the event as…”a business model for a new way of selling art…artists can be presented with so many obstacles and financial barriers. Why not just make it fun? The way it ought to be.”

Ever the visionaries and known for pushing the boundaries, Kent and Tracy asked themselves: “Why not make this an annual event and raise funds for a good cause and continue showcasing local artists?”

The idea took hold and worked.

Tonight’s 9th Annual Art Party’s tickets sold out weeks ago. All proceeds raised from ticket sales benefit the Dallas March of Dimes whose mission advocates research, programs and education to ensure stronger and healthier babies are born.

 The line-up of featured artists proves the Rathbuns have an ongoing loyalty to a stable of local talent. Some of whom have worked for the couple in their restaurants and catering business are invited back each year:

  • Mindy Collins, painter
  • Rick Griggs, painter
  • Scott Harben, sculptor and photographer
  • Ron and Chris Marrs, glass workers
  • Tamara White, painter

Here’s more about each artist.


Tracy Rathbun called this piece, which was a surprise gift at the 2001 housewarming party, “delicious.”
(photo: Mindy Collins website)

Her paintings large and small are hard to miss, and you don’t want to because the colors are arresting and the resin adds a slick, textured sheen.


Artist Rick Griggs tonight in front of his paintings. (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Rick earned a reputation in Dallas among the “foodinistas” as a notable pastry chef for his culinary creations first at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and then at Abacus. Scott paintings are shown at Abacus and Jasper’s, both Rathbun enterprises. Kent has said that “Rick has always been one of the greatest pastry chefs I’ve ever worked with and turns out, he’s an incredible artist as well,”

Between painting and baking, Rick says “I see a lot of similarities. I use a palette knife because I realize there is a technique similar to putting icing on a cake. A lot of my work also has that splattered paint like I have used with sauces. It’s a lot of the same fluidity and control.” (On a personal note: His desserts tonight were delicious.)


“Onomatopoeia” Series | powder-coated 16 gauge steel
(photo: Scott Harben website)

The Rathbun’s are a catalyst for established commercial artists like Scott to experiment. For him, the 7th Annual Art Party marked a change in work style. He created 3-D powder-coated, 16 gauge steel wall sculptures of words known as “Onomatopoeia.” Words like these have been used in comics and graphic novels for years to create a visual sound effect, like “BLAM” or “KRUNCH.”

Tonight Scott presented his metal assemblages. See image below.

“LS-Cell” | Artist: Scott Harden
(photo: Scott Harben website)


“Platters” | hand-blown glass | MarrsArt
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Ron and Chris, a father and son team, are both practicing architects – with degrees in Architecture from Texas Tech University – and glass blowers. They’ve worked in their studio on weekends for the past 15 years, steadily building a reputation and gaining commissions.

Chris notes that “Kent’s been incredible, even outside of the Art Party, in connecting us with clients who might be interested in our art, in our style”. Their patron base has exploded in part thanks to the Rathbuns’ support and the rise of artists such as Dale Chihuly who has single-handedly changed the perception of glass into a fine art medium.

“The Light of God” | blown glass | Ron and Chris Marrs, owners MarrsArt
Congregation Shearith Israel Dallas
14’ x 5’
(photo: AIA Dallas website)

Not on display tonight, the commissioned “The Light of God” (see image above) is worth experiencing in person at Congregation Shearith Israel Dallas. Before tonight’s party, I ran across a picture online, and told Chris I admired this work. Chris shared with me this was a labor of love for the patron, Peter Fonberg, who hired MarrsArt to make a glass sculpture commemorating his deceased wife.  Made from 49 hand-blown pieces with seven pieces representing a menorah’s flames, “The Light of God” took more than a year to produce.


(photo: Tamara White website)

Before we both became members of The Art Menu, I had seen and respected Tamara’s work at friends’ homes, such as the beautifully appointed rooms at Josy Collins, co-owner of Scott+Cooner, and public places, like Abacus Restaurant on McKinney Avenue. Tamara currently has a solo show at the Belmont Hotel.

Curious about her process because her work is a tribute to the thickness of oil paint, I had the opportunity to talk with her about her process. I was not surprised with the comment, “I believe the more the merrier; there is no such thing as having too much paint on my canvas.” Using the palette knife as an extension of her hand, she allows each color to determine what happens next. She prefers painting straight from the tube, keeping the paint as dense as possible. She’s disciplined, in the studio every morning working on many canvases at a time. When paint is left from scraping one canvas, she adds another layer to a nearby painting or begins a new one. “Each painting inspires the next.” I find her finished work like an archaeological site, connoting a geological dig with evidence ready to carbon test to determine what period in Earth’s history each layer represents.

A few weeks ago we had an excellent lunch at Rosemont, which is Tracy Miller’s new restaurant in Deep Ellum, and Tamara reminded me that I needed to buy my ticket to the Rathbun’s Art Party. And, glad I am for her notice because of the “Sold Out” status. Glad I went tonight.

Glass Bottom Boat”| 8’ x 4’ | oil on canvas
Artist: Tamara White
(photo: Tamara White website)

“Rise Above” | 16” x 20” | oil on canvas
Artist: Tamara White
(photo: Tamara White website)

You can continue mixing and mingling with art and gourmet food at one of Kent’s or Tracy’s restaurants. Just make a reservation or find a seat at Abacus, Blue Plate Kitchen, Jasper’s (Note: Kent named this place after the artist Jasper Johns), Shinsei and DUO – All Things Culinary (Note: I recommend trying the freshest tasting juices made at DUO’s Gem Bar until 2 PM).

Enjoy your week.


Extras on “Lucian Freud: Portraits” at the Modern

This is a quicker check-in than I had anticipated because my week became full of unplanned and fun activities once I bought a weekend pass to the 25th Dallas VideoFest.

So, I want to share a short anecdote about one of the Lucien Freud’s paintings. One of his smallest portraits captures a likeness of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s only 9.3” x 6” – tiny on the easel below.

Lucian Freud Painting the Queen at St. James Palace | 2001
(Photo: David Dawson)

Typically, Freud required his subjects come to his studio, housed in his Kensington London home. The Queen of England was an exception to this rule. He set up a make-shift studio at St. James Palace, not in a grand room with scarlet brocade curtains and ancestral paintings as the backdrop but in a modest, drab room that is used by the Royal’s art conservators. The setting was more akin to Freud’s own shabby studio space.

The Queen, given her responsibilities, could commit to a limited number of sittings between May 2000 and December 2001. To minimize time in the studio, a female staff courtier placed the royal crown on her head and filled in for the Queen because Freud knew that the number of faceted diamonds and complexity of the setting would be very time-consuming to paint. While there, the Queen sat and chatted about their mutual love of horses and betting at the horse track as Freud captured the likeness of her face and hair and studied her inner spirit. The work was a gift from Freud – done for free, not as a commission which was Freud’s mode of operation, giving him full artist freedom. The portrait was hailed as brave and clear-sighted by some and condemned as a travesty by others.

The painting was first shown to the public in a 2002 inaugural exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Royal Collection)

How do I know this inside story? It comes from a reliable source: specifically, David Dawson who was Lucian Freud’s assistant for 21 years and inherited Freud’s’ home and studio space as bequeathed to him in the final will. (Note: Freud died last year in July 2011.)

Dawson was the first guest speaker at the Modern in conjunction with this exhibition.

The next speaker, scheduled for October 9th, is Martin Gayford who sat for “Man in the Blue Scarf” (see image below). This promises to be another enlightening talk full of back stories.

Martin suggested himself as a sitter to Lucian Freud over tea in the kitchen – not really expecting a positive answer. The best Martin hoped was for Freud to hesitate and say: “Perhaps?” Instead, Freud replied: “What are you doing next Tuesday evening?” What unfolded was 130 hours of sitting sessions in Freud’s studio, between November 2003 and April 2005, and a book about the experience.

Painting: “Man in the Blue Scarf” | 26″ x 20″

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth is not included in the current show at the Modern Art Museum Fort Worth titled Lucian Freud: Portraits which closes October 28th – it stays in her Majesty’s Royal Collection – but there is still much to see in this show, including “Man in the Blue Scarf.”

Enjoy your week.


Recent Paintings

Recent paintings of mine explore the translucency or opacity of color when layered. This is a continuation of my interest in the properties of paint and the use of simple shapes – lines, rectangles and squares – to make compositions influenced by the Bauhaus Modernist Movement and Josef Albers.

Acrylic on board
10” x 12” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

For the painting above, I used Cadmium Red Medium, which is highly opaque and has a strong tint, for bottom layer (or underpainting).  The top layer is a thin wash of aluminum paint (middle panel) which is highly translucent. It is flanked by Unbleached Titanium White (more a buff, beige hue than pure white) mixed with Naples Yellow (left panel) and then Raw Sienna (right panel).

Acrylic on board
10” x 12” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

I used primary blue for underpainting in the image above.  It’s translucent – a beauty, in my opinion. Again, the top layer is a thin wash of aluminum paint (middle panel) flanked by Unbleached Titanium White mixed with Naples Yellow (left panel) and Raw Sienna (right panel).

Acrylic on Arches Archival paper
15″ x 11” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

Look at the painting above. I used cadmium orange, an opaque color, for the underpainting.  Again, the top layer is a thin wash of aluminum paint (middle horizontal panel) flanked by Unbleached Titanium White mixed with Yellow Ochre (upper panel) and Raw Sienna (lower panel).

Acrylic on paper
15” x 11” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

primary yellow is the color of the underpainting, as seen in center square. The shape shimmers, and the effect reminds me somewhat of the lighting on the outside of One Arts Plaza. The surrounding 8 squares are all variations on Mars Black – adding a touch of primary yellow or cobalt blue or cadmium red caused subtle changes in the color. In person, you think there is more going on than solid black, but  initially you are not sure. So, you stare to figure out what is going on with the black color. The next two paintings are a continuation of this theme.

Oil on gessoed paper
7-1/2” x 7-1/2” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick
Cobalt blue is underpainting.

Oil on gessoed paper
7-1/2” x 7-1/2” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick
Cadmium red is the color used for the underpainting.

I’ve prepped one of my favorite types of canvas – raw linen – across 60” x 48” stretchers. This week I’m ready to work on a new painting which I’ll share with you next Sunday.

Enjoy your week and the Emmy Awards tonight – Go Modern Family and Downton Abbey. Homeland is on my list of need-to-see. What are your favorite TV shows?