Congratulations 2022 Dakota Pastel Contest Finalists!

Congratulations to the 2022 Dakota Pastel Contest Winners! And to everyone who entered, hats off to you. It takes great courage to put yourself out there and, as our jurors agree, the number of worthy paintings from which to choose is tremendous.

In our 3rd Year of the competition, we are beginning to see Emerging artists progress their techniques & styles, take home awards, and even move into the Established category.
We are pleased by the number of participating artists and excited to witness your pastel journeys unfold!

A Big Thanks to our team of Jurors for the 2022 Contest: Karen Margulis, Otto Sturcke, Rita Kirkman, and Andrew McDermott.  We recognize the time and effort it takes to view so many entries and the difficulty of making the final selections. Your thoughtfulness and professionalism in jurying each Quarter and the Final Winners is appreciated.



Vianna Szabo
Daniel Keys
Still Life with Candles & Imari
Roberta Condon
Pulling in the Drive
Jacob Aguiar
McCall Thaw
Tai Meng Lim
Connected Aloneness
Yael Maimon
Party of Five Cats
Mark Cole
Eloquence of Quietude

Remembrance: Vianna Szabo

An exquisite display of the pastel medium, this seemingly limited palette is rich with life and color. Whereas the woman is engrossed by the content of the letter, I am captivated by the artist's distinct use of lost and found edges. This painting engages me as if I'm the messenger, almost beckoning an inquiry of the contents of the message. It invokes me to care, to know, to reach her on a personal level. The soft diffused light adds a nice touch of tenderness to the piece overall. Well done!

Still Life with Candles & Imari: Daniel Keys
This beautifully painted still life is a joy for the senses. I am drawn into the story of this set up and want to know more. I can smell the flowers and the fruit! The arrangement of the elements and the repetition and movement of color provides the viewer with a rich visual journey. I am drawn to the light of the flickering candle which is so effectively painted, but then spy the smoke from the extinguished flame which is such a fitting end to this journey!

Pulling in the Drive: Roberta Condon
Oh, the light! The high-key values and cheerful color scheme makes this a feel-good painting regardless of subject. The unusual composition is yet strong and well balanced, bouncing the eye between the buildings, up and down those bright golden trees and from foreground to background along the diagonal. The artistic textural handing makes me want to stay a while!

McCall Thaw: Jacob Aguiar
This painting has so much to recommend it. Fresh strokes, color harmony, lost and found edges. Then on top of that is a calm yet daring design. Two trees compete for dominance right in the center of this almost-but-not-quite symmetrical composition. Lines pull the eyes every which way: trees up, roads to each side, but the two star trees center stage keep us anchored in place.

Connected Aloneness: TaiMeng Lim
This pastel painting was a wow factor for me, there are so many great things going on here. The edge lighting is fantastic, from the hard-edge cast shadows to the softer lights in the background. Look at the less saturated color in the red coat and then the zap of vibrant red on the edge of the shoulder. Beautifully executed technique from the broader pastel strokes on the ground to the more subtly pastel strokes in the figure. Excellent composition that guides the viewer around the composition; truly a great pastel painting.

Party of Five Cats: Yael Maimon
There is a wonderful energy to this piece that goes above and beyond its expressive mark-making. Look at how brilliantly the orange plate and red browns stand out among the gorgeous neutral tones. The large dark forms and middle value shapes strengthen the composition and give added emphasis and splendid contrast to lightest ones. How I wish I could have been a spectator during the creation of this piece!

Eloquence of Quietude: Mark Cole
Subtle color shifts and sparkling light lead us through this quiet forest. At a glance, greens rule, but a closer look invites us to get lost in many layers of colors and suggested details. One can almost hear small wildlife rustling in the underbrush, see a flitting bird in the corner of your eye, and smell the rich dampness of growing things.



Judith Booth
Bad Hair Day
Carol Holland
Marcia Ballowe
Blackfoot River Reflections
Jill Maytorena
Kimberly Wurster
Varied Thrush, Moss and Maple
Anu Vedagiri
Invalid Password
Jan Prisco
San Carlos Afternoon

EMERGING 1st $1000
Bad Hair Day: Judith Booth
To gaze on this painting, is to relish in a moment of joy! I can't help but snicker at the model's attitude surrounded by colorful strokes of whimsy. The use of grays and neutrals helps give the warmer more saturated colors a nice punch. It's very appealing how the warm and cool colors play nicely together and note how the grays surrounding her face give her features more form and attention to her facial expression. I wish my bad hair days can be as colorful as hers.

EMERGING 2nd $600
Patchwork: Carol Holland
Loved this pastel painting for all the geometric shapes from the structures to the shadows and detail areas; almost a Hopper feeling. Larger shapes of the structures and large cast shadows, to the smaller shapes in the chimneys and windows - I love how they form the overall design. Enjoyed both the lights and cast shadows of the structures, especially the colors in the shadows. Good design and application of pastel even the rocks are rendered in a non-overworked manner. 

EMERGING 3rd $400
Blackfoot River Reflections: Marcia Ballowe
This painting has it all. It has a wonderful composition and visual journey for the viewer. The color palette works to capture a magical time of day. The light is perfect. I am also captivated by the point of view. Looking down on the river invites me to follow it as it leads us around the painting. I want to linger in this painting and the artist has given us little areas of rest that call to me to explore further.

EMERGING 4th $300
Jardin: Jill Maytorena
This is a beautifully painted portrait with a unique point of view. I wonder about her story and it keeps me engaged. The background and paper treatment adds a very intriguing texture which add to the interest in the painting.

EMERGING 5th $150
Varied Thrush, Moss and Maple: Kimberly Wurster

I love the atmospheric effect in this piece. Without a doubt this beautiful bird is the main actor on nature's stage. Overall, the painting has a dreamy quality that pulls the bird forward helped along by the gorgeous rusty reds on its throat and belly. It is wonderful tribute to this enchanting bird.

EMERGING 5th $150
Invalid Password: 
Anu Vedagiri
I love this composition, and how the artist has used the man's pose and the colors in the painting to convey emotion. The lines of the cord, the laptop, the arms and his shoulder keep us in an endless loop throughout the image (similar to the endless headache that is losing one's password!) Between the old bookcase and the modern laptop we see a melding (or dare I say clash?) of past and present. We feel this poor man's frustration with today's technology, which is heightened by the contrast between the muted colors of the man and his surroundings vs. the clashing red and blue of mouse and mousepad.

EMERGING 5th $150
San Carlos Afternoon: Jan Prisco
I really enjoyed this pastel landscape, from the warm tree against the cool sky and greyed down hills. Some great soft edges in the clouds along with the delicately stated sky foliage holes, just the right amount of detail shown. These greens are a good example of how to use greens effectively, using warm and cool with still keeping values in mind. Great example of the rule of thirds composition, well seen and executed landscape.