Category Archives: Featured Artists

Featured Pastel Artist: Cuong Nguyen

Cuong Nguyen was trained to be a traditional portraitist at the age of 10 in his native Vietnam. He finds the natural beauty in the people that surround him—from the men and women he painted to earn money on the streets of Saigon as a child, to the denizens of Silicon Valley that he often paints today. Faces inspire him—so much so that that he has been known to approach strangers to request that they model for him. He works in a variety of media, from oil and pastel to digital media and for much of the past decade, he has been active in streetpaint art festivals around the world. Cuong is also a professional illustrator and icon designer for Yahoo! Inc., where he creates digital artwork no larger than 50 square pixels.
He has won several awards for his painting, including Best in Show at the International Association of Pastel Societies’ 15th Juried Exhibition and a Gold Medal at its 16th Juried Exhibition. The artist is a member of Oil Painters of America and the International Guild of Realism and is a Distinguished Pastelist in the Pastel Society of the West Coast.
Cuong won the Pastel Journal Grand Prize Award for 2011 with the painting Spring.

Featured Pastel Artist: Bill James

Bill James collage

Bill James is one of the most fascinating pastel artists that I know of. His pastel work is mainly impressionistic with a lot of shifts in light and color and his works in watercolors and oils are equally stunning. For the first part of his career, he worked as an illustrator where he developed a love of painting figures and telling stories by the use of expressing emotion.
Bill is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, which awarded him the title of Master-Pastelist. The articles concerning all three media he works with were published by Artist’s Magazine, Watercolor Artist, the Pastel Journal, American Artists, and his paintings have also been included in a different art books. The list of awards is endless and most of them are listed on his very informative website, where Bill offers the online service of looking at paintings created by students, and/or professional fine artists who would like to improve a painting, or solve a problem in creating that painting. He also offers tailored individual online lessons.
Bill James is a graduate of Syracuse University and now lives and works from his studio in a small town in Florida.

Featured Pastel Artist: Betsy Kellum

Betsy Kellum collage

Betsy Kellum graduated from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, and later studied art at the Art League in Old Town Alexandria, VA. She has studied with the well known artists Burton Silverman, Robert Liberace, Albert Handell, Doug Dawson, Tim Tyler and others. Betsy balances her own painting with her love of teaching art and has served as a juror and judge for art exhibits and shows.
Betsy has achieved signature membership in the Pastel Society of America, Pastel Society of the West Coast, Maryland Pastel Society the Southeastern Pastel Society. She has received numerous awards in the international and national juried shows throughout the U.S. and has been published in the Pastel Journal. She lives with her husband, Joe, 2 cats, 8 fish and 4 chickens in Powhatan, VA.
On her website Betsy offers 5 step demo with the underpainting in a thin oil and turpentine wash. She does underpainting in a deeper value of the colors or in the color compliment of the color to be applied on top.

Featured Pastel Artist: Tony Allain


Tony Allain
was born and raised in the Channel Islands (English Channel) where he thought art from 1987 until 1992. He lived some time in Cornwall, UK and after a recent trip to New Zealand he fell in love with the country and is now working and living there.
Tony is a painter of light and movement, and the subjects are ranging from marine and landscapes, town and street scenes through to still life. His painting has a brisk impressionist style, which is suited to the use of pastels. What I like the most about his art is the combination of gray and brilliant colors, together with the simplified scenes and interesting design.
Since January 1st 2010 Tony set a task to paint one small painting a day and post them on a blog. I was delighted after a recent discovery that he publishes paintings in big enough size where all strokes and details are clearly visible. Tony mostly works on the Canson Mi-Teintes paper and uses pastels on the softer side like Unison, Schminke and Sennelier. There is a nice 3 step demo on his blog from January 2010 (bottom of the page). He is a member of New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and the Pastel Association of New Zealand. His work is regularly featured in The Artist and Leisure Painter and the Pastel Journal.

Featured Pastel Artist: Penelope Milner

Penelope Milner

Penelope Milner is a well established and distinguished artist who has produced a diverse range of work in a variety of mediums. However she has tended to work more with pastels and has exhibited both with the Pastel Society in London and at the Society de Pastellistes in Paris. Penelope is a member of the French Pastel Society and was awarded the great honor of “Maître pastelliste” in 2009. She was recently featured in the Special Pastel Edition of the French Magazine “Pratique des Arts”.
Penelope offers pastels courses in landscape and portrait technique from her studio in Catus, France. Here is how Penelope describes her work:

Penelope Milner

“Light has always been of primary interest in my work. Often the sky is merely suggested; reflected in water or in tarmac or in the violet cliffs when the sun is low. In the market scenes I am attracted to the deep reds and oranges which reflect through the parasols and cast their light on everything around. I often choose subjects which allow me to exploit this love of reflected colour; water, ice and polished surfaces. In my more recent pastels I am exploring the reflections of artificial light where the pavements are wet with rain. I am also becoming interested in conveying the sense of figures in motion. In these paintings shapes are vague and hard to decipher. People merge into the shadows forming solid or broken shapes.”

Featured Pastel Artist: Terri Ford


Terri Ford is a native Californian, she attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, and she is living in San Jose. Terri has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Mexico and her pastel paintings include landscapes, portraits, the splendors of Paris, the backroads of France, and Italy… She likes the play of light in a different conditions and is greatly inspired by old architecture; barns, bridges, missions, cathedrals, clock towers, turrets and spires. I especially like her surprising use of vibrant colors like the painting Fishing nets which I can’t stop starring at :).
Terri’s pastel paintings have gained national and international recognition. She was conferred the title Masters Circle by the IAPS in 2007. She has been awarded Distinguished Pastellist status by the Pastel Society of the West Coast, and is a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, Pastel Society of New Mexico & Sierra Pastel Society. Terri teaches plein air workshops in California and abroad. She was a demonstrator at the IAPS Biennial Convention in Albuquerque, NM, May 2009.

“My passion for pastels never subsides. It becomes more intense as I continue my journey with them.The tactile nature of pastel in hand, the surface, with nothing in between continues to excite me. My work is driven by drama of light, and a poetic resonance in a subject.”

Featured Pastel Artist: Monique Straub

Monique Straub is California based pastel artist with a very recognizable style. Formally trained in fine art photography, art history, illustration and painting, she works freely, unrestricted by the traditional rules and concepts. Monique paints in studio but her works are inspired and created using outdoor sketches and photographs as inspiration. Occasionally she will paint on a location. Since 2001, she has taken to painting full-time, and actively participate in juried art competitions, art festivals, daily painting groups, and various community art activities. Monique is currently a member of the “San Diego Museum of the Living Artist” and The Pastel Society of San Diego.

If you are interested in her style (like I am) here is what Monique says about it:
“MY TECHNIQUE: Usually working in series, my inspiration comes from everyday scenes that I capture with a digital camera. These photos are only my “jumping off” point, since I freehand render only rough sketches onto my paper. My rough sketches are then refined and adjusted with ink and brush, and sometimes a watercolor wash for additional background color. My color palette is decided before I begin. I make choices based on the mood of the scene, and sometimes stay within a range to complete a series.”

Artists statement:
“I enjoy painting the world with my own twist. Rather than producing textbook renditions, I choose to concentrate on emphasizing the individual character of my subject. Blending of traditional materials allows me to give unique personality to everyday scenes. I approach each of these original works as an adventure. The result is as surprising for me as I hope it is for you.”

Monique runs very active blog and you can enjoy her regular posts on Monique Straub’s Painting a Day blog.

Featured Pastel Artist: Patrick Hedges

Patrick Hedges collage

Patrick Hedges was born in Uganda, and lived for 14 years in and around East Africa. This early childhood instilled in him a love of wildlife and the outdoors. Since then he has traveled the world extensively, visiting over 50 countries. He now lives in South Australia.

Patrick Hedges

I’ve seen Patrick’s work on the WetCanvas first, where he provided beautiful  portrait step-by-step instructions like  the Old man, Chimp, Oriental lady and others. When you look at Patrick’s portfolio you see his great passion for a wildlife, but for me his human portraits are even more fascinating.
Patrick’s work is very detailed and best explained by his own words “I love detail and it’s often my wish to communicate the soul of the subject by paying special attention to the eyes and facial features. My goal with my art is to allow the viewer to feel something and for that to happen, I need to feel it first. It may be compassion, pain, love or some other emotion, but if I’ve created it, it made me feel something in the first place and I hope to convey this to the viewer”. Follow Patrick’s interesting travels and inspired art on Patrick Hedges blog.

Featured Pastel Artist: September McGee

September McGee collage
September McGee collage

September McGee
September McGee

September McGee is a pastel and oil artist from California, USA. Her distinctive style blends Impressionism and Realism and is easily recognized by long strokes on the figure art. Her paintings are full of musicians, rhythm and movement. That seams to attract many art lovers, including me, and is making her award list very long. You have already seen her work on this blog in the Pastel 100 Figure winners. September just attained her second honorable level of signature membership with the Pastel Society of the West Coast. Her first honorable level as a signature member is with the Connecticut Pastel Society. If you are visiting South California stop in Laguna Beach where September is having two-month show all July and August. If you would like to keep up with September’s work you can also follow her on the blog.

Featured Pastel Artist: Jerry H. Brown

Jerry Brown was born and raised in Kirksville, Missouri. He enrolled in college in 1964 with no set plan or major field of study in mind. He took several art classes, enjoyed them and was encouraged by his teachers. He soon decided to earn a degree in Art Education. After two years in the Army he earned a Masters Degree in Studio Art from The University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Jerry Brown

Jerry taught High School art for 30 years. During that time he continued to work on his art, and frequently exhibited his watercolors in local and national shows. Now retired from teaching, he is pursuing his art full time.

Jerry worked as a watercolor artist for 30 years before moving to pastels. Many of the skills he developed with watercolor have influenced the way he uses pastels. He likes to paint a variety of subjects, figurative being his favorite.

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