Dakota Art Pastels has announced the winners of its 2022 third quarter competition! Here’s a link to see all the third quarter winners. Especially fab are Juror Rita Kirkman’s comments on the top four awards in both categories (Established and Emerging).

Rather than talk about the winning pieces (go be inspired!), I decided to dig into all the entries and pick five that caught my eye.

And here they are in no particular order:


third quarter winners- Ann Volpe, "Waiting," pastels on Lux Archival, 20 x 16 in.
Ann Volpe, “Waiting,” pastels on Lux Archival, 20 x 16 in.


How does an artist manage to convey the soft crispness (yes, an oxymoron for sure!) of tulle? Well, Ann Volpe certainly knows how. I love the contrast between the glowing purple net fabric and the sheen of the satin on the pointe shoes all backed by the dark mysterious upper section into which the purple melds. The dancer’s shoes absolutely glow and I feel I can reach out and pick them right off the paper. And what’s the story here? So many possibilities!



third quarter winners-Ralph Klapis, "Rock of Ages," pastel on Lux Archival, 11 x 14 in.
Ralph Klapis, “Rock of Ages,” pastel on Lux Archival, 11 x 14 in.


Who makes a painting of a quarry? An artist who sees the design potential in this place of stone cutting. Look at the way Ralph Klapis uses the inherent design of the stone pattern – the cubes, the lines, the light, the colour – to create a painting we move about so easily. Look at how he uses rectangles of red to move our eyes through the painting. The strip of green in the upper section with the red accents in front of it nicely balances out the mass of neutrals in the lower three-quarters of the painting. 



third quarter winners-Katie Halahan, "Peaches and a Mountain View," pastels on LaCarte, 18 x 24 in.
Katie Halahan, “Peaches and a Mountain View,” pastels on LaCarte, 18 x 24 in.


A traditional group of fruit on fabric placed on a window ledge with a view of the land beyond. But there’s nothing traditional-looking about this piece! As much as it may remind us of paintings from the past (think Italianate landscapes), this painting with its bold marks and contrast between intense colour and more muted neutrals sits squarely in the 21st Century! I’m pulled in while at the same time threatened by the menace of what seems to be an incoming storm. One of the peaches has already been “greyed” by the portent of rain.



third quarter winners-Jennifer Becker, "The Weight of Manifestation and the Strength of Light No.1," pastels on UART paper, 18 x 14 in.
Jennifer Becker, “The Weight of Manifestation and the Strength of Light No.1,” pastels on UART paper, 18 x 14 in.


What I first noticed about this painting by Jennifer Becker is the abstract pattern of darks and lights. It’s not until you look more closely that you notice the cat. A light coming from off camera illuminates the translucent ear and creates a deep cast shadow thrown by the unflappable feline. We look down on the scene. How far down does that ambiguous space go beyond the cat? What is this location? There’s a sense of mystery and enease created by the uncertain context.



third quarter winners-Jacob Aguiar, "March in Scarborough Marsh, "pastels on UART paper, 6 x 8 in.
Jacob Aguiar, “March in Scarborough Marsh, “pastels on UART paper, 6 x 8 in.


Jacob Aguiar takes a plain and ordinary scene of some scrubby grass with snow on the ground and makes it into something worthy of our attention. It’s a small piece at 6 x 8 in but expresses so much. Warm ochres and browns contrast with the cool blues and purples. Intense colours contrast with more greyed ones. The diagonal line created by the grasses and snow drives us into the picture. Stray grasses and the zig zag line of snow meeting grass both help us move along and slow us down. The horizontal lines of the marsh and the line of trees pull us back into the painting, 


So many paintings to be inspired by in this third quarter competition. Go check out all the entries as well as the third quarter winners. Thanks to Dakota Art Pastels for running this quarterly competition!



The 31-pastels-in-31-days Challenge just started!


In case you haven’t heard, the 7th Annual HowToPastel 31-in-31 Challenge runs through the month of October. And it’s not too late to join us!

Head over to the HowToPastel Facebook group and join in. (Make sure to tell me you want to participate in the 31-in-31 Challenge when you answer the required questions.) Post your daily images there. Or simply post anywhere on social media with the hashtag #31in31htp2022. I look forward to seeing your work!

Need something to inspire and get you started? Click here.

31 in 31 2022 Has Begun


And that’s it for this time!



  1. Wasn’t impressed with the choices that Rita made especially when she picked the second place established artist piece which was clearly a photo turned into a line drawing and then pastels placed on top of the printed out photo.

    • Hey Mev, thanks for sharing your opinion!
      Jurying is a tricky business for sure and we know as jurors that some of our choices may not be approved by everyone. One thing though. That painting by Roberta Condon….that obvious line is part of the artist’s exploration in this piece. it reminds me of the work of artists like Euan Uglow who often left the ‘tic’ marks made from measuring. I suggest you have a look at some of Roberta’s other work here.


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