An Artist’s Colorful Rumson Retreat

Pat Dunigan's studio is brimming with vibrant, wall-to-wall creations.

pat dunigan

Pat Dunigan relaxes in her small Rumson studio amid a selection of colorful canvases from her recent Oops series. Courtesy of Lizzie Dunigan

For artist Pat Dunigan, a Rumson studio has been the perfect sanctuary during Covid-19 lockdowns and dreary winter weather. The black-shingled exterior and dark roof of the tiny building give no indication of what lies within: a brightly lit space lined wall-to-wall with Dunigan’s brilliantly colorful creations. Even Dunigan’s overalls are pleasingly speckled with acrylic paint in a rainbow of colors. 

“I’m stacking everything up,” Dunigan says of the studio. “I’m totally out of space.” But that’s okay. In fact, Dunigan’s newest series, titled Oops, is the product of a happy accident, courtesy of the tight quarters. “I keep a box of cutout pieces of colorful paper around to do designs with. I dropped the box, and the paper scattered over a big, solid background piece I had laying on the floor. It looked so cool,” she says. The incident has inspired more than 30 paintings.

After studying fine arts and languages in college, Dunigan veered toward advertising, where she worked as the head of marketing for several companies. Traveling and expending her creative energy on her job, she stopped painting. It wasn’t until she acquired the studio space that she seriously picked up her paintbrush again. “I always knew I wanted to do this,” Dunigan says, “but I didn’t prioritize it or make time for it until about two years ago, when I decided I would like a space where I can put my work and go to be solely focused on it.”

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Since her college years, she has moved away from Monet-inspired pastel palettes and landscape paintings. “When I think back, I was trying to replicate. I didn’t really have a point of view,” she says. Her current work is a reflection of her own style. 

A longtime gardener and the daughter of an architect, the Rumson resident often finds inspiration in the colors and lines of flowers. “I don’t really see them as flowers. To me, they are more like sculptural shapes,” Dunigan says. “The thing that I really love is the interplay of color and shapes.” 

Even full to the brim, the studio doesn’t feel cluttered and has served as a haven for Dunigan—especially since the onset of the pandemic lessened her need to travel to New York for her ongoing advertising work. “This is my favorite place,” she says. “It’s really been a blessing.”

To see more of the artist’s work, visit patdunigan.com.

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