Pastel Society of the West Coast: Brief History and Purpose

The Pastel Society of the West Coast was effectively “born” in 1984, when Margot Schulzke, a well-known pastelist and author, attended pastelist Albert Handell’s workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. Smitten by the medium, she suggested to him that there should be a society for pastel artists in the western United States. He replied that if Margot were to get the ball rolling, he would help in any way he could. With the help of other dedicated artists, they did, and he was good for his word.

By fall of 1985, PSWC was under way. Our first meeting was held at the studio of Sally Lyon Smith, in Folsom, California. Over fifty people attended. Soon after that, we had a little publicity in American Artist Magazine, and membership applications began to roll in. Within a few months, our membership soared to about 300, with members in over twenty states. Growth continues. Despite the development of many other pastel societies in the years since,  we are now the second largest pastel society in the United States.

Our mission is to provide opportunities to encourage the use of pastels through education and competition. We offer workshops, demonstrations, and regional paint-outs and paint-ins throughout the country. We also hold two major competitions each year, awarding thousands of dollars to outstanding artists. In addition, we give two scholarships to deserving art students and scholarships for workshops for members, and publish a magazine three times a year with information about the society, pastel artists, art techniques, and local, regional, and national events in the pastel world.