New works with Gold Leaf…

Yellow and Gold Leaf 1

I have been working with gold leaf recently and have incorporated it into some of my abstract works; you can see these new works at:


What does PSA after an artist’s name mean?

Cool Blues

Cool Blues

I regularly get asked the question “what does PSA after your name mean?” so thought I’d write a short blog post on this topic.

In order to be able to place the initials “PSA” after your name infers that you have “Signature” status in the Pastel Society of America (PSA).

There are two levels of membership in the PSA, “Associate” and “Signature”. In order to achieve Signature status your work must be juried by the PSA’s Jury of Admissions to determine if you meet the standards of professional excellence required for Signature status. If the Jury of Admissions does not confer Signature status, they may award the artist an Associate membership (this is by no means guaranteed).

Therefore, to achieve Signature status in the PSA and be allowed to place the initials PSA after your name, you do have to achieve a very high standard of professional excellence that is awarded to very few artists.

The PSA Jury of Admissions provides the following information about the jurying process:

  • The jury does not know the name of the applicant nor does the jury consider an applicant’s resume.
  • All works should be of equal consistent outstanding quality and must demonstrate consistency in style, originality of subject matter and interpretation of it.
  • The rendering of subject matter, and elements of composition are important as well as correct perspective.
  • All works must be original art and not copied from professional photographs  (obviously work completed in a class or under a teacher’s supervision in a workshop is ineligible).
  • If all the standards of professional excellence are met, a Signature membership requires a majority vote of the jury.

I feel privileged to be able to be able to place “PSA” after my name….

The “Sold” versus “Private Collection” question…

Horizon Series 4

Horizon Series 4

Over the past few months several of my clients have asked for prices of works on my website that I have marked as ‘Private Collection’.

It has become obvious to me that many clients are confused by that terminology; which suggests to me that the use of the term, instead of simply saying ‘Sold’, is perhaps jargon more familiar to artists and galleries.

So, in the spirit of responding to client feedback and making my website more client friendly, I am changing all of my paintings marked ‘Private Collection’ on my website to ‘Sold’ to avoid confusion.

Hopefully this should clarify the position for my clients and avoid disappointment when I have to explain that a specific piece has already found a new home!

… just my view and I hope this helps if you are having a similar experience!

Happy New Year!

Best Regards,

Jennifer Gardner, PSA

So, what are pastels anyway?

Yellow Series 14

Yellow Series 14

I paint with both watercolor and pastel and I get a lot of questions about pastels when I am exhibiting at the outdoor fine art shows in New England and Florida. Many people ask me if they are chalk or crayon, and I’ve even been asked if they are like charcoal; none of these are correct, so I thought I’d start my first blog post with a little bit of history and information about the pastel medium.

Pastel is an art medium in the form of a stick. It consists of pure powdered pigment and a binder – generally gum arabic or gum trabacanth. Pastels have no chalk component. The pigments (color) used in pastels are the same as those used to produce oil paints, acrylics and watercolor. However, as this medium has the highest pigment concentration of all painting media they allow for very intense saturated colors.

When properly protected behind glass, pastel is THE most permanent of all media, for it never cracks, darkens or yellows; on the contrary, a pastel painting will maintain its original brilliance and vibrancy.

Pastel is a dry medium and is available in varying degrees of hardness and softness; it is quite distinct from oil pastel, which is an entirely different medium.

I use both soft and hard pastel sticks. Soft pastels have a higher portion of pigment and less binder, resulting in brighter, purer and more vibrant colors. Hard pastels have a higher portion of binder and less pigment, producing a sharp drawing material that is useful for fine details, for drawing outlines and adding accents.

My favorite brands include Sennelier, Schminke, Mount Vision, and Nu-Pastel.

A pastel painting is created by moving the sticks over an abrasive ground, leaving color on the grain of the surface. A pastel support/ground needs to provide a “tooth” (often finely ground pumice or marble dust or vegetable fiber) to which the pastel will adhere, holding the pigment in place.

My preferred abrasive supports/grounds are Sennelier La Carte, which is a high quality, acid-free, heavyweight paper with a surface of slightly abrasive vegetable fiber; and Kitty Wallis paper, which is also a Museum Grade high quality, acid-free, paper using a 100% cotton base with a surface of white aluminum oxide abrasive.

Historically, 19th Century French painter Edgar Degas was a prolific user of pastel. Mary Cassatt first introduced pastel to the USA and became its strongest proponent of her era.

Pastels have undergone resurgence in recent years and are now popular in modern art due to the medium’s broad range of bright colors, durability and versatility.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me or comment on the post!


Jennifer Gardner, PSA