Décembre 2016 Artiste du mois | Pastel Artiste Rita Kirkman

Congratulations to pastel artist Rita Kirkman as our December Artist of the Month! Kirkman was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her piece 9 can be seen below. Read more about Kirkman and her process below.

New Braunfels, Texas ~ ritakirkman.com

pastel artist

9 (pastel, 16×16) by Rita Kirkman



I began drawing portraits of family and friends when I was 11. While obtaining my BFA, I began a 12-year career drawing 5-minute portrait sketches in amusement parks, which eternally spoiled me for any “real” job! After that, I began to improve my own artwork through workshops, which I continue to do to this day. I am one of the lucky ones, and have been making my living as an artist since my first portrait sketch at Cedar Point in 1986.

Cows have been a fascination for me for several years. I initially made 9 very small at first (6×6”) and it was so much fun that I decided to do it again, larger. This time I left the ear tag on, which I’ve only done a few times in my animal paintings, when I’ve felt that the idea of the painting will be enhanced by a tag.

I work mostly from photos, which I crop end edit in Photoshop until I have it as close to how I want to paint it as possible. Then I send it to my iPad for referencing. My colors have evolved into a combination of a very warm underpainting (using pastel primers in gold and red) and a layering of cooler pastels over it, to create lights and shadows that evoke a feeling of warm sunlight. I gravitate to bright, intense colors, and enjoy mixing my neutrals by layering compliments.

This was one of those rare, wonderful projects that went really smoothly through most of the painting process. I did change the blue of the sky a little bit. I also changed the ear tag, which became my favorite part when I decided on the “9” and the shape of it. I felt the round shape fit the face better in the square painting. It also added both a personal identity to the cow and a hint of ambiguity to the story.

The act of painting is itself the best inspiration for the next painting. Slumps are the hardest to pull out of the longer they are allowed to go on. I hope to paint every day until I die.

I would like to thank Carol Marine for saying, “Paint daily,” and Sara Eyestone for saying, “Work in a series.” Mostly, I thank my parents and siblings for generally ignoring me as a child so that I could draw for long periods of uninterrupted time, and for always having good things to say about the results. I’ve been able to define myself as an “artist” for my entire life with never a doubt.

I love The Artist’s Magazine! I’m very competitive and the desire to win is what pushes my artwork to the next level. I love the attention and I thrive on positive feedback.

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