play by ear by esther ritz Play by Ear[/caption]

    My painting, Play by Ear, recently won a ribbon for Best in Show at the Texas Visual Artists Association show: "Collage, Printmaking, and Assemblage". It was quite a thrill and surprise, as I felt there were many talented artists and excellent works that were entered. Thank you to the judges and organizes for this wonderful recognition.

    When I created this art work about a year ago, I was concerned with the idea of play and freedom. I felt art should be fun, like a child has other words play... and that by allowing myself to play and have fun, I would be more free to express myself without restraints. It was a way to circumvent both the internal critic and my ideas about external expectations from others.

    I do think this piece has a very playful and fun feeling to it. Hope you enjoy it too.Img4610

  • Prize Winner

    The painting “Opposites Attract” was recently awarded an Honorable Mention Prize at a Dallas exhibit, sponsored by the Texas Visual Artists Association. There were 56 entries, so the prize is a wonderful honor.

    The show’s theme, In the Eye of the Beholder” focused on the question of what is beauty. I entered this painting because I felt it addressed that very question, what do people find attractive or beautiful.

    Many people have trouble understanding modern abstract art and question if it beautiful. The Eye of the Beholder featured many styles and types of art, suggesting that the viewer, or beholder, holds the key. How to they react and appreciate what they are seeing or eyeing.

    Though the piece, Opposites Attract, is rather small, only 18″x18″, I feel it has a power that resonates beyond it size.Opposites Attract_LR

  • The Plays the Thing


    The Plays the Thing

    Recently collectors of one of my paintings asked me write something for them, so they could better understand the thought process behind the painting. What were my emotions at the time, they asked.

    Often I am asked to describe how or why I paint. Or what inspires me. But this question was different. It was specific. What was happening beneath the surface for this very painting.

    I had actually completed the painting months earlier, so the request was that not simple. I would have to reach back and retrieve old memories and feelings, similar to trying to remember a dream the next day.
    Obviously not an easy task--but I said I would try.

    At the time I was working on this particular painting, I was experimenting with a number of different elements in my paintings. For some time I had been using fabrics as a collage element, but now I decided to focus on only black and white fabrics. Another new approach was to limit the ground of the painting to mostly one hue or color--in this case green.

    My prior series of works had contained many vibrant colors, often juxtaposed to each other. I was looking for a way to create a dramatic effect with less reliance on color.

    The other strong element in the painting is the use of many “found objects”, like jewelry, string, wool, buttons, and chards of pottery. I recently decided to use these things as collage pieces in my paintings because I liked the 3 dimensional textural quality they added.

    When I start a painting, I do not have a plan in mind, but rather let my intuition lead the way. The was certainly the case in this painting: “The Plays the Thing”.

    As I applied layers of paint and then let my brush flow, it looked very chaotic to me. I could not see where it was going. As I continued I added darker colors, like black and deep blue, sometimes throwing the paint to get random effects and emphasize the feeling chaos.

    When I glued on the black and white fabrics, the painting seemed more alive to me. At this point I began to think of composition and structure, but still could not see how I could make it work.

    Only when I began painting into the fabric did it seem to come together.

    But I liked the feeling of chaos and did want to lose that. So by collaging the “found objects’ on to the canvas and incorporating them into the composition I felt I could get a feeling of order and chaos at the same time.

    “The Plays the Thing” was a difficult process for me. There were many times the frustration was great, and I wanted to quit it. But I kept coming back to it. Something about it drew me in. And there was also many fun moments, like finding the right object, seeing connections between shapes, letting my imagination go wild.

    Originally, this was going to be 2 separate paintings, but about half way through I realized they were meant to be connected and seen together.
    There was a sense of completion when the canvases were seen as one whole work.

    I like to tell people that their own reaction and interpretation to my paintings is what is important. I hope the painting stimulates them to feel or think or see the world differently. And I hope that this painting does that for you.

  • See the Art Process in Action

    For several years I have been participating in workshops called The Painting Experience. (For a more detailed description see my Blog #12 The Painting Experience).



    These workshops have dramatically affected how and why I paint.


    The focus of the workshops is to enable you to stay in the present moment and let the art work develop in a natural and uncontrolled manner. It allows you to tap into the mystery of the artistic process. As you moves through the process, the risks of stepping into unknown are ever present.


    By letting go of control and being open to whatever happens next in the painting, the process itself becomes the primary activity, the final art produced of little importance. It is often difficult to explain this Art Process in words. And even more difficult for the listener to grasp the concept.


    I decided the best solutions is to show how one painting developed by showing a series of photos. These photos show the paintings and Art Process in Action. As I painted, I stopped periodically to document the paintingʼs development at each successive stage.


    In the beginning, there was no plan. I thought I would only paint a face, but became inspired to enlarge the painting to include the body. The many animals, plants and insects were images that appeared to me as I painted. This was also true of the flowers on the body, the tears and blood, the flames and the outlines. Even the choice of color was quite spontaneous.


    As an artist, I find I am now able to paint more authentically, feeling freer to express my inner emotions and ideas.


    I hope you will find this demonstration both enlightening and interesting.


    [imagebrowser id=1]


  • The True Artist

    The Dallas Jewish Historical Society held an event on May 22, 2013 to highlight and present 18 local Jewish Artists. I was happy to participate, by exhibiting several of my works, and to meet the other artists.


    The evening began with an interesting talk by Nancy Cohen Israel. Nancy is well known is Dallas as an art historian, art educator and writer.


    Jewish historical society art 1


    Rather than discuss “Jewish Art”, which she felt was a different subject, she talked about the history of Jewish artists. Starting from earliest Biblical times, she explained due to both Biblical law (thou shalt have no graven images before me) and their nomadic history, Jews created mostly crafts rather large works. She made a grand sweep through history and landed in the 20th century, where she focused on 3 modern Jewish artists, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Judy Chicago.


    One of her main themes was that these artists and others were concerned with how art can make the world a better place. With the help of slides, she illustrated her points forcefully. The photos of the Rothko chapelʼs spiritual environment was an excellent example.


    As the viewer experiences the art work, hopefully they can experience a sense of the spirituality of the work and its universal message.


    Jewish historical society art Dallas 2


    After the talk, the audience spent the rest of the evening viewing the art. I showed 12 acrylic works on paper. People seemed to respond positively to the explosion of color in my abstractions. I found this interesting, in view of the speakerʼs remarks about the importance of the viewers experience. There did seem to be a universal reaction to the strong colors and compositions.


    I enjoyed seeing the other artistʼs work, as well. Morton Rachofsky presented a very interesting geometric sculpture, a style for which he is well known.


    George Tobolowsky showed two large metal menorahs, made from found objects, which were impressive.


    Robin Sachs had a wonderful collection of her photographs, which showed her rare abilities and talents.


    The program highlighted the quote “The true artist helps the world by revealing the mystic truth”.


    Perhaps the crowd got a glimpse last evening of some true artists.



  • Dallas Arts Fair


    The Dallas Art Fair at the FIG (Fashion Industry Gallery) in downtown Dallas has
    become an annual event. It runs three days and is open to the public (at $25 for a daily
    admission ticket). There are also various patron packages for several hundred dollars,
    which entitle patrons to attend various events and panel discussions.


    I spent about an hour there this morning and was able to visit almost all of the galleries
    which had exhibits in that time.


    On the bright side, you can see dozens of galleries in a short amount of time, without
    have to travel about town or further afield. In addition to about a dozen Dallas galleries,
    there were many galleries represented from many U.S. cities and around the world. It
    was impressive to see galleries from Paris, Tokyo, London, Mexico, Italy and Korea.
    New York had the greatest number of galleries from any city.


    So it really is a chance to see what is happening in the art world internationally.


    Personally, I felt much of what was on display was redundant, without soul or creative
    imagination. Yes, there were many individual works that I liked, or even loved. But
    overall, much of the art seemed tired. As one friend quipped “It looks like they all went
    to the same art school”. I will say it is easy to get visual overload with so much art in
    one place, so that may have been part of my problem. But I saw little that I could say
    was break out art. Most was within the bounds of art “fashion” of today.




    This same weekend I participated in a POP UP show at the Trinity Grove Art Fair. Trinity
    Grove is a newly developed warehouse district just on the west side of the beautiful
    Calatrva Bridge in Dallas.


    Sixteen local Dallas artists represented by Haley Henman Gallery were exhibited.


    The show was eclectic and fresh, with many different styles and points of view
    represented. In addition to my own contemporary abstract art, there were watercolors,
    sculpture, digital photography, representational oils and others.


    This type of local art show was a great contrast to the international one downtown.

  • Perot Museum

    The new Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened to much fanfare last December in Dallas. I had a chance to visit it last week and was duly impressed. It is a wonderful addition to the Dallas museum scene and the thriving central Dallas district.


    In spite of its name though, there is plenty of modern art to find there. The architecture is fantastic. The use of volume, shape, sight lines and details are a thrill to experience.

    Every view takes in the Dallas skyline in unusual and exciting ways. The contrast of of hard edge and organic shapes is found everywhere.

    The exhibits themselves are a study in good design.

    The use of vibrant color, movement of light, composition of display all are great examples of modern art.

    The newness of the Perot is still attracting crowds, but it is well worth a visit soon.




  • Where to See Contemporary Art in Dallas

    The good news is contemporary art is everywhere in Dallas. There are abundant galleries and museums to choose from to find anything from classic art to abstract modern done by modern artists from Dallas.


    The real question is how to stay on top of the latest shows, openings, and exhibits.



    There are several ways to do this:


    One is to get on the mailing list of organizations that announce these things.


    CADD is a good source. The Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas is an organization of local galleries that specialize in contemporary art. They send out emails alerts on a regular basis, in addition to offering educational programs.


    Another resource is the Art and Seek newsletter sent out by NPR. The publicize what is happening in the art world in general.


    A local magazine, A + C always has listings of gallery exhibits and news, as does the Weekend Guide of the Dallas Morning News.


    Once you register for any of the online sites, notices will come to you automatically, so it is easy to stay current on the art scene.


    For more information on my own art for viewing or purchasing, email me at

  • Where to Find Inspiration As An Artist

    I am often asked where I find inspiration for my art work. Surprisingly, the answer is often from other art.


    By frequently going to galleries and museums I am inspired by the creativity I see. I experience the energy and flow in the art works and that in turn enables me to tap into my own creativity.



    A few artists and their work come to mind as good examples.


    One is Elliot Hundley, a contemporary artist. His works were shown last year at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. His use of materials was an inspiration for me.  Although my work is usually abstract, I liked his use of many different materials, layered over paint, to create unusual effects.


    Another artist who inspired me is a contemporary abstract artist from France, Tiebaut de Rempre. Although his palette is more subdued, I like his freedom of expression, his use of line, and his strong energy.


    A very famous contemporary abstract artist, William de Kooning (first painting above), is known for his strong energetic use of paint and broad brush strokes. This too inspired me.


    Inspiration can come from unexpected places and art, so I keep looking.





  • Creative Arts Center in Dallas

    As a working in artist in Dallas, I find it beneficial to join arts organizations to meet other
    artists and have oportunites to show my art.



    One place that offers me those things is the Creative Arts Center of Dallas. They offer classes and workshops in many areas of the arts, from ceramics, to sculpture, to drawing and painting, and many more.


    Although my primary focus is abstract art I have taken workshops there in other areas to expose myself to other techniques and ideas.


    Being a contemporary artist, I like to experiment and learn and continue to expand my repertoire and this is a good place to this.


    Both membership and fees are very reasonable and the facilities are excellent.


    Last year one of my paintings was chosen for their membership show.


    Contact them at or visit their website at

  • The Painting Experience

    For several years I have attended a wonderful workshop in Molokai Hawaii called the Painting Experience. The workshop is not a traditional painting class at all. There is no instruction about how to paint, or how to mix colors even.

    Instead, it is a time of inner exploration. Anyone can take part in these workshops, whether or not they “know” how to paint. That is because the act of making a painting is treated more like an exercise in meditation.

    Participants work silently, standing before their paper, and letting their inner most thoughts and feelings be expressed by the paint. There is no judgment or interpretation of the painting. Rather it is a time to explore and expand oneʼs mind.

    As a painter I find the process fulfilling. It has enabled me to be open to new directions. My creative juices are stimulated in ways that are exciting and new.

    For more information about the workshop see:


  • A Great Book: Art and Fear

    The hui


    Today I am going to offer a book review. The book “ART and FEAR, Observations on the Perils (and rewards) of ARTMAKING”, is a must read for all artist, no matter their medium or genre.


    The two authors, David Bayles and Ted Orland, are working artists, and the book addresses the very real problems that artists of every variety are faced with during the process of making their art.

    While the book is primarily addressed to artists, I think that anyone who is interested in the artistic process will find it fascinating.


    It’s main message is that the process of making art is a very personal relationship between the artist and her materials. It is separate and distinct from the questions of marketing and public acceptance or approval. Only as the artist immerses herself in the process and is able to ignore imagined judgments of others, is she able to create freely.


    The book is a wonderful antidote to the fears, doubts and hang-ups that most artists experience at one time or another.


    This painting was  done with this book in mind.


    Wiki wiki


  • Art Competitions for Artists


    During the last several years I have entered numerous art competitions. This is a great way for artists to get recognition and credibility. In general these art competitions are sponsored by local art organizations, galleries or museums. Sometimes they are sponsored by universities or schools.


    Often they invite jurors to review and select the winners.


    It is generally the case that the art competition is directed at a certain type of art or medium, such as sculpture, painting, drawing or even video. There is always a prospectus which outlines the criteria. In addition there is usually a small fee to enter the contest.


    If you are selected, then you must be responsible for taking or shipping your art to and from the venue of the show.


    In the past, I have been selected twice to have my art in the Studio City magazine, through  juried art competition.


    My art has also been selected numerous times to show in the juried Citation Show of the Texas Visual Arts Association.


    A good place to find listings of juried competitions is: CaFE™ Management ;  another is or





    It's not easy being RED 48x48

  • Go See American Art at Amon Carter

    american art at amon carter

    You have until January 6, 2013 to go see the American Art from The Phillips Collection at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.


    It is a rare opportunity to see this collection, normally housed in Washington D.C. at the Phillips Museum, so close to home.


    The exhibit is titled “To See as Artists See” and the free catalogue and information presented throughout the show is extremely informative. Each artist’s work is put into context with the developments of the art world at that time.


    By seeing the changes in modern art from about 1860 to about 1960, one gets a brief but thorough look at that century of modern art. The show spans from Romanticism and Realism, to Impressionism, to Nature, the City, Cubism, and Abstract Expression.


    Two of my favorite modern artists are included, Georgia O’Keefe and Stuart Davis. Their use of color and form were important in the movement of Abstract art in the 20th Century.


    I recommend you take the time to go to the Amon Carter Museum at 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd. Ft. Worth,


    american art at amon carter museum american art at amon carter 2 american art in amon center

  • Dallas Arts Revue, A Local Website for Artist

    abstract artist dallas


    The Dallas Arts Revue is a web site primarily aimed at both Dallas artists and those interested in the local Dallas art scene.


    It is published and run by J R Compton, a local artist in his own right.


    Artists can join for a small annual fee. They can have their web site linked there and as well as have photos of their art shown.

    Recently one of my works, About Face was featured on their front page.


    The site reviews local gallery exhibitions and comments on them. By reading the Dallas Arts Revue frequently, you can keep abreast of whats happening in Dallas. Often it covers events that more major media do not cover.


    It also lists opportunities for local Dallas artists to exhibit their work or enter competitions or find studio space.


    I recommend you take a look at it soon. Here is a link to my work, About Face:




  • Texas Visual Arts Association in the News

    contemporary artist dallas

    I have been a member of the Texas Visual Arts Association (TVAA) for several years and find it an excellent way for an emerging artist to get exposure for their  art work.


    The TVAA is a nonprofit organization organized and administered by local artist. It sponsors monthly exhibitions for its members, both at its downtown Gallery location and other venues in Dallas. 


    It is also a great way for local artists to meet and support each other.


    I am fortunate to have been selected to show in 2 upcoming TVAA exhibitions. The Collage Exhibition opens on November 1, 2012 at their downtown Gallery at Plaza of the Americas. It runs all month through November 30. I will be exhibiting 3 works from my Mix and Match series.


    I am very excited that one of my works, Press Play, was chosen to be part of the TVAA annual Citation show. This is a juried show and only 60 pieces are selected, so it is quite an honor. The Citation show is from November 6 to December 14, 2012 and is at the PFamily Arts of Plano at 4017 Preston Rd. #544 LakeSide Market Plano, Tx.


    For more information on both these events go to


    contemporary artist dallas

  • Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum

    If you are anywhere within a few hours drive of the Dallas Arboretum, donʼt miss the current exhibition of the Chihuly modern art glass exhibition. You still have plenty of time to catch this amazing show, as it runs until November 5, 2012.
    I would recommend going on a glorious cool autumn evening like I did last evening. With the cool breezes from White Rock Lake, and the sun setting in the distance, it was a perfect setting to experience these Chihuly masterpieces.
    These contemporary artworks are colorful, flamboyont and fanciful. Even for those who claim not to understand modern art, they will undoubtedly evoke emotion and understanding.
    As you walk through the magnificent gardens of the Dallas Arboretum, you will gently discover these fantastic glass shapes mingling with the plants in the landscape. It is truly a marriage of complementary forms in every respect.
    Yes, this is contemporary art that is modern, abstract, beautiful and fun. Go as soon as you can.






  • A Saturday Gallery Visit

    Today I went to the MAC, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, to see their exhibition which is about to close.


    There was a very interesting show of Dallas contemporary artists. Roger Winter was the featured artist. He is a well known Dallas artist and art professor at SMU. I enjoyed seeing the range of his work over many years. His brushwork and compositions were particularly arresting, as well as his unusual compositions.


    There was also a group show called Under the Influence, which featured John Alexander, David Bates, Brian Cobble, Dan Rizzie, and Lilian Garcia-Roig.


    I was taken with the work of John Alexander in particular. I had not seen his art work before and loved the complexity. This contemporary art work by a Dallas artist was commanding. It engaged you immediately and made you want to continue to look and explore.


    For more information about the MAC here is their information.

    [caption id="attachment_639" align="alignnone" width="680"]dallas contemporary artist 02 Roger Winter, "Fisherman's Friend", 2002
    Oil on linen
    42' x 42'[/caption]



    [caption id="attachment_641" align="alignnone" width="680"]dallas contemporary artist 04 John Alexander, "Shopping with the Bride of Satan", 1985
    Oil on canvas
    90" x 100"
    Private Collection[/caption]



    [caption id="attachment_643" align="alignnone" width="680"]dallas contemporary artist 06 John Alexander, "Fish Ascending to Heaven" 1984
    Oil on canvas
    91 (3/4)" x 102"[/caption]



  • Art for Charity: Art and Advocacy

    art for charity art for life dallas


    Each year I donate paintings to different charitable organizations to help them raise money for their particular cause. In most cases the charity has an auction and asks Dallas artists to donate a work, the proceeds from the sale going to the charity.


    Over the years I have helped a variety of causes like womenʼs shelters, animal shelters, preventing disease or helping schools or religious institutions.


    One of my favorite charities is the Dallas Childrenʼs Advocacy Center. Itʼs goal is to help child abuse victims.


    They sponsor a yearly event called Art + Advocacy, and dozens of local Dallas artist participate by donating their work. The event has high attendance, so that there is great exposure for the artists, as well as helping such a worthy cause.

    This year I donated a modern, contemporary art work called “Clear the Lot”.


    This year the event is on Thursday November 1, 2012 at the Fashion Industry Gallery.


    You can get more information from Alexis OʼConnell at 214-818-2683 or go this website:







    art for charity art for life dallas 2




  • Esther Ritz Short Biography

    esther ritz bio dallas artist

    Esther Ritz, born New York City, has been working as a painter in Dallas and Santa Fe for the last 12 years. She is a lifelong painter, mostly self educated, but has studied at intensive workshops with French and American master painters.


    She is represented by the Haley-Henman Gallery in Dallas, and has had 2 solo shows under their sponsorship, as well as participated in their group shows.


    She has also had a solo show in Santa Fe at the Read Johnson Gallery.


    In addition she has shown at numerous local venues such as the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Bath House Cultural Center, AlSo Gallery, 500X and many of the TVAA group shows. She has been selected to participate in 3 TVAA Citation Juried National Shows and the Creative Arts Center juried show in 2011.


    In 2010 her work was juried and selected to be in the national magazine Studio Visit.


    Her numerous corporate and individual collectors are found throughout the U.S.