VPS Newsletter October 2021


Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.


  • Autumn has appeared! Vermont lifted CoViD restrictions this summer, and we were able to meet again in person, but with fall bringing us back inside and the delta variant surging, meeting in person may be challenging again.
  • Regional hubs met regularly during summer, and Zoom meetings were on hold. We’ll know soon what autumn will bring.
  • Our second Members’ Exhibition is up for viewing in Montpelier.
  • Our next board meeting via Zoom is 2 weeks away.
  • Our next Annual Members’ Meeting via Zoom is 3 weeks away.

Continue reading below for more details.


Sep 1-Oct 31, 2021: VPS Members’ Exhibition at T.W. Wood Gallery, Montpelier, VT

Oct 13, 2021: VPS Board Meeting, 7-9 p.m. remotely via Zoom

Oct 21, 2021: VPS Annual Members’ Meeting, 6:30-8:30 p.m. remotely via Zoom


Summer has seen plenty of hub events. VPS: SE met in June to raffle off their hub’s allotment of donated frames; to critique members’ works; and to finalize details for their local hub show which happened in August. VPS: SW met in July and August to discuss an upcoming hub show; to watch a demo by one of their members on painting water scenes; to learn from one member about making pastels; and to view several members’ water paintings. VPS: CHP viewed several paintings of their members; VPS: UV has been getting together monthly for paint-outs and informal critiques; and VPS: CEN put on a fantastic Members’ Exhibition!


On view now, and until the end of October, is our second Members’ Exhibition of the year, wholly-hosted by VPS: Central. Because of the delta variant spiking in our state, the reception on September 10, 2021, was held outside the T.W. Wood Gallery in Montpelier. There was a veritable feast laid out for the many attendees. Our hosts innovated an awards ceremony with the help of many hub members, ferrying each award-winning painting from the upstairs wall downstairs to the outside sidewalk so that all could see the pastel which won. The threatening weather held off, making for a delightful evening. The paintings in this show are all exemplary, so please try to see it while it is still hanging.

For 2022, there will be one Members’ Exhibition in June/July at the Chaffee Art Center in Rutland, wholly-hosted by VPS: MidState and a Juried Show in the fall at Vermont Artisans Design in Brattleboro, wholly-hosted by VPS: SouthEast. More details will be forthcoming in the next several months.


With many Vermonters getting the CoViD vaccine, and, with venues opening up in our state, we had hoped that our workshop with Dawn Emerson would take place in Bennington this October. But unluckily, the delta variant upended our plans. As of now, this workshop and two others are planned for 2022.

Lyn Asselta: Spring of 2022, Bennington, VT

Alain Picard: August 8-12, 2022, East Montpelier, VT

Dawn Emerson: Fall of 2022, Bennington, VT


We will be holding our next board meeting virtually via Zoom on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 from 7-9 p.m. We always have a number of interesting subjects to discuss, so please feel free to attend. The link for the meeting will be https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82527177129?pwd=Z3pIN3UyN1NHdlhjT2xOOGFMRkFWdz09

so put it on your calendar now and please join us.

Also, after last year’s successful Annual Members’ Meeting via Zoom (with more people attending than in the previous year’s in-person event), the board has decided to hold this year’s meeting virtually as well. The link will be coming, but the time and date are Thursday, October 21, 2021 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. As before, we will have a short business meeting in the first hour. Following that, we have something new: a presentation by Dakota Pastels. Linda Masten has already seen this presentation as a member of another pastel society and attests to it being of great interest to all of us. Put that date and time on your calendar too!

Remember, as a VPS member, you can share noteworthy news about your artwork, about prizes you were awarded, about your upcoming shows, about your hub, or about other pastel items of personal interest. Check it out by going to the VPS website and clicking Member News on the drop-down menu or click on this link for submission instructions:

VPS Member Noteworthy News

Don’t forget that you can also rent DVDs for free as a member. The information is on our website.


With a Juried Show and Members’ Exhibition coming next year, three workshops planned for next summer and fall, and our Hubs staying active, whether in person or virtually, there is much to be gained by being a member of the VPS. Thank you to those who continue to be active in our society. We are who we are because of the support for our organization that you all provide. Keep it strong, as you keep on making pastel art!

Matt Peake
VPS President

Members Online Show Awards

Juror Alain Picard’s Comments on the 2020 Members Show Award Winners

I am honored and delighted to have served as Juror of Awards for the Vermont Pastel Society’s inaugural Members Only Online Show. I’d like to share a few comments regarding how I select award winners before talking about each of the top winners specifically. There are four categories of consideration that I use to evaluate the work.

First off, I look at The Fundamentals.  This is the skillful deployment of color, composition, drawing, proportions, perspective, tonal values, and edge quality. These are the foundational elements of the painting. Have they been executed with skill and mastery?

Next I consider  The Medium.  This is the skillful handling of pastel. The mark-making, surface effects, and creative techniques that are used in the application of soft pastel in all its various approaches.

Moving on from there, I consider  The Artist . Is there a unique point of view in the painting? Can I identify a clear artistic voice speaking through the work? Does the artist use poetic expression in the handling of the medium? Is there a strong concept and a clear intention being delivered? These qualities of the artist are powerful influencers in the resulting painting.

Finally, I consider  The Art . This is that intangible resonance of the work. It’s the painting’s ability to impact the viewer, reach in and stir something inside of you. There is a power in a painting that somehow gets unlocked through the passion of the artist, and it takes on a life of it’s own. This is one reason why great art lives on for generations, why we are moved when we enter a museum and behold a work from generations past as it speaks to us today. I’m searching for this resonant power in the painting.

All four of these categories—the Fundamentals, the Medium, the Artist and the Art—are considered in making decisions as Juror of Awards. Now to the Award winners.


Last Light  by Patti Braun

Last Light received best in show. As I view this elegant landscape, the design, color harmony, mood and atmosphere all coalesce to create a moment in time that connects with the heart and speaks to the soul. I can feel the air hovering over the mountains and the warm late day light as it moves up the tree line until it’s gone. This wonderful celebration of nature reveals the artist’s admiration for and connection with the scene. I admire in particular the use of color deployed to convey emotion and atmosphere. We feel the moment, and we are rewarded greatly.


Tractor Study #5  by Robert Carsten

Second place went to Tractor Study #5. This piece is a truly unique vantage point on the art of abstraction. Rooted in direct observation of an antique tractor, the artist has transformed the surface environment of this machine into a technicolor delight of texture, light and shadow. Ultimately, it is the compositional drama, created through the play of light and shadow on the surface and conveyed with highly chromatic hues, that won me over. No one else has observed a tractor in such a unique way and shared their unique artistic vision with such joy and celebration.


Nearing Twilight by Katrina Thortensen

Nearing Twilight took 3 rd  place in this exhibition. The sky in this subtle and restful landscape is painted with such elegant restraint that it creates a sensory experience for the viewer. The depth of atmosphere is felt as much as seen through control of value and edge as well as the unity of color harmony. The soft light dances across the grass and rides over the clouds through sublimely rendered color. The moon is now in view, such a tender and skillful touch revealing thousands of miles of atmosphere and space between the viewer and this lunar sighting. What a beautiful scene, and a sense of place the artist has created for us here.


The Blues by Shelli Duboff

Pure joy. That is the direct emotion I encountered when setting eyes on this painting entitled, The Blues. It’s a clever composition that emphasizes energetic diagonals to evoke a musical celebration of the genre. The artist has captured a feeling of music so well. I can’t as much hear the sounds as I can feel them resonating in my body in cadence with the fingers of the musician’s hand. That’s what makes this painting more than a portrait of a man or a description of a jazz player. It is a true visceral expression of joy.


A History of Baseball #3 by Monica Hastings

A History of Baseball #3 is a narrative still life painting that sensitively and lovingly observes articles of our national past time. The surface effect of the leather gloves, well-worn and aged, is treated with great care. The color and value of aged and crackled leather depicted with wonderful grace. I enjoy experiencing the meandering line created by the outside edges of the gloves as you travel from one old soul to the next. What a special homage to the game of baseball, and to the art of pastel.


Felicity by Alla Hiser

Felicity takes the 3rd Honorable Mention in this show. Nestled between the trunks of a tree, this compositional v-shaped design rivets our attention upon a beguiling young princess. She is treated with great dignity, using the site line vantage point of just below the subject to create a sense of power and poise in this little girl with great aspirations. From the eyes to the hands and tenderly rendered mouth, the artist has given us more than a skillful likeness, but a painting that invites us into a story. We are left wondering, “who will she become…?” And this willful participation with the art nourishes the viewer’s mind as well as heart.

VPS & PSNH 2020 Dual Member Exhibition

VPS & PSNH 2020