Susan attended the  American Academy of Art in Chicago. Fresh out of art school she worked as a freelance portrait artist for a Chicago chain of department stores. She fell in love with the Impressionist paintings at the Art Institute and became completely smitten with the pastels of that era. Since there was very little instruction at that time in this medium she moved to Woodstock, New York to study with Master Artist Albert Handell and became his studio assistant for the next two years. 

​After two years in New York she opened her own studio in Chicago where she taught workshops and classes. In the mid 1980’s she began painting at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art with another living Master Painter, Richard Schmid. In the early 1990’s she moved to the Northwest and started "a beautiful family."  She is "now back in the studio full time and loving every minute."

Artist Statement: "My life’s work is to leave the world more beautiful than I found it.  I look for light beauty. It is everywhere... My job is to translate it onto canvas and share it."

Please check her website

Rita Kirkman teaching at the Wisconsin Pastel Artists' workshop in July at Grafton High School. Attendees included 16 artists from all over Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and even Canada. Rita is from Texas. We were so lucky to have her here!

And thank you, Marcia, for making all the arrangements.​  Here are the happy attendees!

​Rita Kirkman has been using pastel since she was 11 years old. She received her BFA in 1988 and has improved through workshops with renowned pastelists including Richard McKinley, Desmond O'Hagan, and Maggie Price. Since 2003, Kirkman has consistently won major national and international awards. Her work has been featured in the Pastel Journal and the Pratique des Arts Special Pastel.  She is a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America and an IAPS Master Circle member. In 2011, Kirkman joined the Daily Painting movement and has since posted hundreds of small, affordable paintings on her blog,

Special thanks to Chris and Anne for hosting our final day's plein air workout and for the deeelicious breakfast !

​​​WPA began a new activity for members! It's called "DUST BUDDIES"!

It's a 'play date' with fellow members. The first date was Saturday, February 16th, from 1:00-4:00 pm, at Grafton High School. (Thank you Marcia Gorra-Patek for hosting us again!).  

The Dust Bunnies date was a great time to relax and explore one of your works-in-progress, or start a completely new painting. The venue, as always, was very comfortable and made for artists who want to learn something new and experiment.  As you can see from the photos, the Grafton High School Art classrooms are phenomenal - great lighting and plenty of work space.  And the best part is the group advice and encouragement.  

The second date is Sunday, April 28th, again from 1:00-4:00 pm, at the high school.  Bring all your supplies; work you have started or work that is half-finished;  bring all the questions you have always wondered about; and be prepared to:


The workshop with  ​

Debora Stewart 

That was scheduled for 

Friday through Sunday, ​September 18-20, 2020

has unfortunately been canceled due to the current Covid-19 quarantine directives.



​​​​​Wisconsin Pastel Artists was delighted to host a new workshop for Members:

Susan Kuznitsky, July 13-15, 2018 

Three full days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. ​​

​at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mequon.​​​​​​​​

Preston beginning the workshop.

​​​​​​​​​​RITA KIRKMAN WORKSHOP - JULY 15-17, 2017​​​​​​​​​​​​

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John lives in Fairfield, Iowa and has been painting the landscape since 1984. He especially enjoys painting the often dramatic weather we have in the Midwest, particularly far horizons and a sky filled with clouds. He "finds an idea in an image, rather than finding an image for an idea."

He has exhibited nationally and is in many public and private collections, including Iowa State University, John Deere and the Chicago Federal Reserve.

WPA artists gathered at Lion's Den Gorge in Grafton, Wisconsin for a two-day workshop.

​​John Preston Workshop at Lion's Den Gorge: September 19-20, 2015