Introducing The Top 5 Winners of This Year’s Pastel 100 Competition

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The number of entries for the 19th Annual Pastel 100 Competition totaled more than 2,500. That’s a lot of paintings — and a lot of great pastel talent!

Pastel Journal magazine is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Annual Pastel 100 Competition.

We’ll have reproductions of all the prize-winning paintings, and artist interviews and juror comments, in the April 2018 issue of Pastel Journal. Until then, congratulations to all of 2017 winners!

Introducing the Top Winners of the 19th Annual Pastel 100 Competition

From still lifes to entrancing landscapes, here is a sneak peek into some of the remarkable, winning artists from the 19th Annual Pastel 100 Competition.

Pastel Journal Founder’s Award in Memory of Maggie Price ($5,000) — Aurelio Rodriguez López

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Painting Old Chinese Pottery by Aurelio Rodriguez Lopez, pastel


Aurelio Rodriguez López was born in Génave, Spain. He began his art training during his teenage years by taking classes at Baeza Art School in Baeza.

Throughout his career, he has exhibited his work in all corners of the world. From all across Spain, Madrid to China, and New York to London, Rodrigues’s work has been seen and loved by viewers for decades.

Pastel Journal Award of Excellence ($2,500) — Jacob Aguiar

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Marsh Complements by Jacob Aguiar, pastel


“I can remember as a kid staying up until midnight drawing comic book characters with friends, or sitting in the car while my parents had to run errands so I could draw what I saw out the window,” says Jacob Aguiar.

In 2011, Aguiar took a leave from his medical studies to pursue art in the small Northern California town of Sebastopol. Not sure of what medium he wished to work in, he happened upon the landscape pastels of Richard McKinley during an internet search. “Needless to say, I was hooked immediately,” he notes.

He’s since graduated from school. And today, he spends three days a week as a naturopathic doctor in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and devotes his time-off to his love of art.

Ruth Richeson Pastel GOLD Award (pastels and surfaces valued over $2,000) — Nancy Nowak

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Gallery Street by Nancy Nowak, pastel


Nancy Nowak earned her B.A. at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1981, where her main interests were enameling and oil painting.

After owning calligraphy and printing businesses, she rededicated herself and her life to her art, striving to evoke an emotional response and awareness to the everyday beauty that surrounds us.

Nowak’s work is representational in style but with an impressionist flair. The artist also offers workshops and classes in pastel, focusing on landscapes.

Richeson Pastel SILVER Award (pastels and surfaces valued over $1,500) — Corey Pitkin

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The Golden Apple by Corey Pitkin, pastel


Corey Pitkin is a predominantly self-taught artist. He won multiple awards from regional and national competitions by the time he graduated high school.

After a “loss of creative drive” in his 20s, the artist renewed his love for art-making and has since gone from a relatively unknown to an award winner in local, national and international competitions.

Richeson Pastel BRONZE Award (pastels and surfaces valued at $1,000) — Colette Odya Smith

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Understory by Colette Odya Smith, pastel


Colette Odya Smith earned her degree in fine art, humanities and education from Macalester College in St. Paul. She spent about 10 years teaching art at a Wisconsin school while raising two children and “making art around the edges.”

For the last two decades, she has focused on her painting career. “Laying pastels over a watercolor underpainting, I have developed working methods that expand the expressive range of this versatile medium, at times using ripped and layered surfaces, textured elements and gold and copper leaf,” she says.

Category Winners

Below is a list of all the winners per category for the 19th Annual Pastel 100 Competiton.

Abstract & Non-Objective (Juror: Arlene Richman)

  • First Place: A Passionate Nature by Bre Barnett Crowell
  • Second Place: Sunny Side Rose by Marcia Holmes
  • Third Place: Up and Away by Betty Efferson
  • Fourth Place: Journey Through Egypt by Halla Shafey
  • Fifth Place: Blue by Cory Goulet


Animal & Wildlife (Juror: Rita Kirkman)

  • First Place: Twilight Parallel by Otto Stürcke
  • Second Place: Nap Time by Andrew Memmelaar
  • Third Place: Empty Space by Yael Maimon
  • Fourth Place: The Butterfly by Luying Ye
  • Fifth Place: Hidden by Denise Vitollo


Landscape & Interior (Juror: Nancie King Mertz)

  • First Place: Tilghman Breeze by Maria Marino
  • Second Place: Top of the Canyon by Stan Bloomfield
  • Third Place: Morning Light by Wenlin Zhu
  • Fourth Place: Lily Pads Sur Ciel Bleu by Terri Ford
  • Fifth Place: Sunday Afternoon by Kathleen Newman


Portrait & Figure (Juror: William Schneider)

  • First Place: Yang Hui by Aurelio Rodríguez López
  • Second Place: Masking by Jinghan Wu
  • Third Place: Free Spirit by Carolin Fernandez
  • Fourth Place: Sofia by Svetlana Cameron
  • Fifth Place: Kyrgyz Hunter by Fabang Pei


Still Life & Floral (Sarah Blumenschein)

  • First Place: Once Upon a Time by Theresa Emmett Allison
  • Second Place: Bolts of Fabric by Diane Rudnick Mann
  • Third Place: Still Life With Nest by Don Williams
  • Fourth Place: High and Dry by Amy Sanders
  • Fifth Place: Just Another Apology by Jennifer Evenhus


Honorable Mentions

Here is a list of this year’s honorable mentions, per category.

Abstract & Non-Objective

  • Liyri Art
  • Elaine Augustine
  • Barbara Bagan
  • Cory Goulet
  • Cynthia Haase
  • Pirkko Makela-Haapalinna
  • Karen O’Brien
  • Mike Ray
  • Sabrina Stiles
  • Mira M. White


Animal & Wildlife

  • Michelle Bonneville
  • Mark Brockman
  • Nikolay Lavetsky
  • Catherine Lidden
  • Susan H. Long
  • Yael Maimon
  • Steven Oiestad
  • Aurelio Rodríguez López
  • Adelle Platt
  • John Plishka


  • Landscape & Interior

    Jacob Aguiar
  • David Alldridge
  • Lyn Asselta
  • Lana Ballot
  • Cindy Crimmin
  • Bethany Fields
  • Alejandra Gos
  • Ray Hassard
  • Marcia Holmes
  • Amanda Houston
  • Mike Ishikawa
  • Barbara Jaenicke
  • Dave Kaphammer
  • Helen Kleczynski
  • Sookyi Lee
  • Karen Margulis
  • Paul Murray
  • Nancy Nowak
  • Colette Odya Smith
  • Charles Peer
  • Jeanne Rosier Smith
  • Dug Waggoner
  • Tara Will
  • Beth Williams
  • Don Williams


Portrait & Figure

  • Daud Akhriev
  • Mike Beeman
  • Edgar Carabio
  • PengYue Chu
  • Tracy Ference
  • TaiMeng Lim
  • Aline Ordman
  • Sally Strand
  • Thalia Stratton
  • Christine Swann
  • Daggi Wallace
  • Jia Wei
  • Tara Will
  • Trilby Wood


Still Life & Floral

  • Theresa Emmett Allison
  • Jeri Greenberg
  • Kathy Hildebrandt
  • Karen Israel
  • HaiHong Jin
  • Helen Kleczynski
  • Zijie Long
  • Jacqueline Meyerson
  • Amy Sanders
  • Vilas Tonape

A special note of thanks to our generous 19th Annual Pastel 100 Competition sponsors: Jack Richeson & Co. for sponsorship of the Ruth Richeson Pastel GOLD Award; Richeson Pastel SILVER Award and Richeson Pastel BRONZE Award; Terry Ludwig Pastels (first place category sponsor); Great American Artworks (second place category sponsor); Holbein (third place category sponsor); PanPastels (fourth place category sponsor); and UART (fifth place category sponsor) for donating wonderful material prizes for all our category winners!

Please note: The number of honorable mentions per category of the 19th Annual Pastel 100 Competition was determined by the number of entries in the category. They were adjusted to reflect similar ratios. For example, the Landscape + Interior category received the most entries. Therefore, it includes the highest number of honorable mentions. In addition, the list doesn’t total 100, because some winners placed twice in honorable mentions.

Did you miss the 19th Annual Pastel 100 Competition? Don’t worry! There is still time to enter your pastel art in this year’s All Media Competition. Don’t delay; deadline is Oct. 16, 2017. Learn more information here.

Ready to Paint Your Award-Winning Art Piece?

It’s not too early to start planning your own award-winning pastel for the 20th Annual Pastel 100 Competition! Need a little help or inspiration? Watch the preview trailer for the video workshop, Composition Secrets: How to Plan a Painting, below for a few of acclaimed pastelist Liz Haywood-Sullivan tips on building a strong painting foundation.

Learn more of Liz’s tips and techniques by streaming the entire instructional video at

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