The Chalkboard

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

The newest member to be elected into the Pastel Society of America is Whitney Kurlan, of Aiken South Carolina. Whitney's been a pastelist for over 30 yrs. She is one of the few dedicated wildlife artists in the Society.

It was an unexpected delight to have been selected this year to this prestigious organization. To be alongside some of the very best Pastelists in the country, and be counted among these artists, is truly an honor.

Pastel is one of the oldest mediums used. It consists of pure pigment from a raw source such as earth, minerals, and precious gems which are pulverized into a fine powder and mixed with a binder such as talc, pumice, beeswax and water. Artists such as the Impressionists, Monet, Degas, Millet, Cassatt used the medium alongside oils and watercolors. The medium gained notable status with the advent of the Society of American Painters in Pastel in 1882, which included such artists as William Merrit Chase, Childe Hassam and Robert Reid. The Society only lasted eight years and held four exhibitions. But it drew attention to pastel and helped it gain respect as a medium.


Pastel on Custom prepared board
Shadows on the Serengetti by Whitney Kurlan

The Pastel Society of America (PSA) is a 501©3 non-profit educational organization that sets standards of professional excellence in studio practice and educates the public regarding the permanence and beauty of the pastel medium. PSA accomplishes its goals through certification, workshops, classes, demonstrations, and exhibitions, as well as distributing information through its website, publications, and e-communications.



Founded in 1972 by Flora B. Giffuni, Pastel Society of America (PSA) – is the oldest pastel society in America – is largely responsible for the current renaissance of pastels in American art. The society’s annual exhibitions at The National Arts Club in New York are the premier event for pastel artists worldwide. PSA encourages artistic advancement through prestigious awards, both monetary and material, distributed during its annual exhibitions to pastelists showing technical acumen and creative use of pastel techniques. In recent years, PSA has been honored guests in exhibitions in Italy, France, Russia, and China.



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