America's Oldest Pastel Society
Home | About PSA | The Pastel Medium | Annual Exhibitions | Events | Membership | Education | Publications | Resources | Contact

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
Butler Museum Exhibition
Flora B. Giffuni Gallery of American Pastel

Answers to our most frequently asked questions. Please feel free to contact PSA for information not addressed in this section

Identifying a Pastel Artist
Q: I have just received two pastels from my mother, which are portraits of my great grandparents. They have Frederick Witton's name and the year '46 written on them. Do you have any information on this artist? These are family heirlooms, so I would like to know about them. I have searched the Internet, but could not find any info.

A: Unfortunately, PSA does not run a research service for identifying pastel artists. If the artist signature is followed by the initials PSA, we may be able to find the artist's name in our membership records. PSA is involved with contemporary pastel artists and exhibitions after 1972, its founding year.

PSA can only advise you to do a Google search on the Internet. You might inquire at your local public library about how to do a proper computer search or a hard-copy search for an artist by name.

Jimmy Wright, PSA, Master Pastelist; Mary Hargrave, PSA

Q: What are the criteria for Signature membership?
A: The Pastel Society of America membership jury's decision to award PSA Signature status is based entirely upon the quality of the five paintings submitted. The jury does not know the name of the applicant, nor does the jury consider an applicant's resume. The five works should be of equal, consistent, and outstanding quality. Four exceptional works accompanied by one mediocre work will disqualify the applicant for Signature status.

The criteria the jury considers are: consistency in style for the three slides, originality of subject matter, and interpretation. The rendering of subject matter and elements of composition are as important as correct perspective. As juries consist of individuals, interpretations of these criteria can vary.

Pastels sent for the jury's consideration should be original art and not copied from professional photographs. Work done in a class or under a teacher's supervision in a workshop is not eligible.

Signature membership requires a majority vote of the jury.

PSA offers a critique of three slides click here for more information  

Jimmy Wright, PSA, Master Pastelist & Mary Hargrave, PSA

Q: I am a Signature member of PSA who has been out of touch with the organization and have not paid my dues since 2003. How do I reinstate my membership and Signature status?
A: You could pay all the back dues from 2003 to have your membership and Signature status reinstated. Or you could apply for membership as a non-member. As a non-member, the PSA membership jury will decide a new whether to accept you as a Signature member or Associate member or reject your application. As a new member, you would pay dues for one year, plus an initiation fee.

You can find the Application for Membership on PSA's website under MEMBERSHIP. Download and complete the application as a non-member and submit it with 5 slides for jurying. We look forward to having you back as an active member.

Mary Hargrave, PSA
Q: How does an artist prepare digital images to enter the PSA Annual or to apply for membership?
A: Two documents to help you prepare CDs of your finished art have been made available to PSA through the generosity of Kay Gordon, president of the Appalachian Pastel Society, click here.
Sallie Atkins from the Southeastern Pastel Society worked on the Picasa document, click here.
PSA is grateful to both artists for their assistance.
Leslie Lillien Levy, PSA


Q: If you take a photo of someone in a public place—at a parade, at a fair, etc.—can you safely and freely (legally) paint them? The person photographed would not know unless you got some kind of publicity and your painting was published, such as in a magazine article. So, if the person did discover that you painted him or her, what could they do? What if you sold the painting and got money for it?

A:PSA cannot give legal advice. I am not aware of an artist being sued for painting a person in a street scene. However, a famous contemporary photographer, Philip-Lorcia DiCorcia, was sued by a man who was photographed on the street. Nussenzweig v.DiCorcia is a decision by the New York Supreme Court in New York County, holding that a photographer could display, publish, and sell (at least in limited editions) "street photographs" without the consent of the subjects of those photographs.  

Q: I am an oil painter who wants to use dry pastels with my oil painting.  Can you point me to a website that talks about using these two mediums being used together?

A: Oil pastels are compatible with oil paint because they are made with a formula of oil based pigments and soft wax that hardens when exposed to air. Oil pastels will dissolve with mineral spirits or turpentine. Oil pastels can be used between layers of oil paint during various stages of making the painting. Sennelier, the French art material manufacturer, first developed oil pastels for Picasso.

The German expressionist painter Max Beckman sometimes combined soft dry pastel with oil. The pastel would be used as a preliminary sketch on the canvas. Oil paint can be applied over the soft pastel. The solvents in the oil paint will penetrate the soft pastel. Edges of forms sketched in pastel can be left exposed on the finished oil painted canvas. Even large areas of soft pastel can be free of oil paint application. Large areas of pastel would need protection with a light coat of a varnish-based pastel fixative, such as those made by Sennelier and Winsor & Newton. Do not use an acrylic-based fixative, such as Krylon or Lascaux on oil paint. Mask off the surrounding areas of the oil painting when applying the fixative.

Pastel applied to the surface of dried oil paint will easily rub off even if fixed. An example of a contemporary artist who uses pastel combined with oil paint on linen canvas is Irving Petlin.

Jimmy Wright, PSA, Master Pastelist

Home | About PSA | The Pastel Medium | Annual Exhibitions | Events | Membership | Education | Publications | Resources | Contact

Join the conversation with Jimmy Wright and over 5400 pastel artists from all over the world on the PSA-Facebook group conversing and sharing what is going on in their pastel studios and looking at
examples of contemporary and historical pastels and pastel techniques.

The Pastel Society of America is a 501(c)(3) entity
15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY 10003

Copyright 2015 Pastel Society of America. All Rights Reserved