Click here to view the 2020 Summer Quarter winners

Judging Statement and Award Comments
Dawn Emerson, PSA

We all know that 2020 has been a year unlike any other in our lifetime. The making of art for many of us was a lifeline--vital to our sanity, and a way to lend meaning and expression to the isolation and tragedies happening around the world. Painting and drawing was a way for us to make our time in the studio be more intentional while the world seemed to be falling apart.

Whatever the subject or style, the work that stood out the most to me in this fall competition reflects that sense of intentionality-- of impecable design and composition, superb technical skill, beautiful use of color (or lack of it), authentic mark making, decisive editing, and unique creativity.

The group of more than 1000 entries I judged was truly inspiring and humbling. I read all your comments and viewed each work, and want you to know that you were each seen and appreciated for your submissions. The competition was extremely stiff and difficult to judge. Competitions like this one show the world what the pastel medium is capable of, and we should be very proud of these artists' accomplishments. My sincere congratulations to each of you who were awarded!

For many of us this year has been a time to take stock of what is most meaningful in our lives. I think I speak for all pastelists how grateful we are to Dakota Art for providing this on-line platform to showcase the incredible depth of talented artists and breadth of the pastel medium, and for always being such a helpful resource and provider for our pastel materials.


Dawn Emerson, PSA
Fall Dakota Competition Judge



Susan Ellis
The Long Haul 
Melissa Breault
Toward the Within
Carol Strockwasson
Union City Grain
Tara Will
Carrie's Koi
Honorable Mention
Anne McGrory
Hydrangea & Celadon
Honorable Mention
Randye Jensen
For the Birds
Honorable Mention
Jill Stefani Wagner
Honorable Mention
Margaret Larlham
The World According to Sparrows
Honorable Mention
Lynn Simon
She Had a Collection from Green to Gold to Blue
Honorable Mention
Anne Strutz
Honorable Mention
Shirley Rayner
Me and My Shadow
Honorable Mention
Yael Maimon
Nocturnal Meal

#1 The Long Haul: Susan Ellis
This piece is stunning in every way. The graphic composition, use of color, and mark making is confident, understated, and gripping. This piece feels timeless in both its emotive story, and in the impeccable skill the artist displays with each stroke. Truly masterful!

#2 Toward the Within: Melissa Breault
This magnificent piece is a testament to what portraiture can be. Detail is executed with such intention and love that the viewer is moved to stop and touch with our eyes each blade of grass and every detail of the figure-- just as the artist did. Beyond masterful technical skill, this piece reaches beyond the surface to make a visceral connection with humanity, nature, and time.

#3 Union City Grain: Carol Strockwasson
This piece is like a magic trick-- it disappears as you look at it! The minimal use of color and detail is exactly what makes it intriguing and captivating. The artist has managed to capture the nature of fog and the quality of diffused light, intentionally making the viewer fill in the rest of what is there. Artists can tell a story by what they don't put in, as well as what they do include...this is editing. Bravo!

#4 Carrie's Koi: Tara Will
This piece is pure mark making and color that only pastel can achieve. The calligraphic marks imitate the feeling of swirling koi, and the variation in sizes of marks creates a beautiful feeling of depth and immediacy. The viewer can be amazed at how little detail is actually here, yet how much we are able to fill in and enjoy.





Margaret Stadnyk
Nilisha Phad
The Tech Lesson
Tatsiana Harbacheuskaya
Roses With Grapes
Greg Stone
Honorable Mention
Lori Owen
Mum's the Word
Honorable Mention
Susan Crawford Tracy
Swing Time
Honorable Mention
Laurie Cartwright
Schools In
Honorable Mention
Anu Vedagiri
Blue Jeans And Stilled Life
Honorable Mention
Patricia Volp
Honorable Mention
Alec Hall
We Have Lift-Off
Honorable Mention
Nadine McCluskey
Pot Roast
Honorable Mention
Robert Richey



#1 Tiger: Margaret Stadnyk
This piece is a tour de force of texture, design, storytelling, technique, and observation. It is beyond being an image of a animal, in that it captures the true nature of this cat's comfortable confidence. Each time I see this piece I feel my neck stretching, and if I had a tail it would curl as well!

#2  The Tech Lesson: Nilisha Phad
The subject of the young introducing the old to current technology is not uncommon, but this artist managed to convey this issue with unembellished editing. The composition is understatedly designed, the details of everything minimized to focus only on the expressions and gestures. This is a case where every stroke put down was where it needed to be, and just enough. Bravo!

#3 Roses with Grapes: Tatsiana Harbacheuskaya
This image is handled with an elegant confidence and of stroke, shape, design, and color. The sense of form, space, gesture, and light is drawn not through description, but through the use of shape, varied mark making, and deliberate editorial choices. What an excellent example of how it isn't the subject, but the manner in which one describes the subject that makes it art.

#4 Emergence: Greg Stone
Sometimes the feeling of a color can only be communicated by a poetic painter. Through the beautiful choice of color relationships, scale, composition, and marks, this artist has created a work that conveys a luminous shadow, and vast sense of space, and grandeur. This painting is a celebration of pastel color.


Click here to view the 2020 Summer Quarter winners