Rita Kirkman received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1988. In 1986 she began a 12-year career sketching quick portraits at amusement parks, and in 1988 she began a business drawing detailed pencil portraits from client photos. Since 2003, Kirkman has improved her own style and technique with pastel through independent study and workshops with renowned artists each year.  This effort has been consistently rewarded with major awards in national and international competitions. Her work has been featured in the Pastel Journal and the Pratique des Arts Spécial Pastel, and published in many others.


She is a Signature member of the Pastel Society of America and an Eminent Pastelist with the International Association of Pastel Societies. Her portraits and paintings are in private collections all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Africa and Australia.

 “I’m blessed to be able to find beauty in everything I see. My work has evolved into an observation of sunlight and shadow, and recently I’ve been playing with more adventurous ways to portray light with colour, value, and temperature. Along with themed portraiture, a trendy subject with my collectors has been ranch animals. This works rather well because ranch animals are ideal models of sunlight.”

Where to find Rita...

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An Assembly-Line Approach to Daily Painting



Watch and learn as Rita completes several small animal paintings in a two-step method starting with
simultaneous underpaintings.

Handouts will outline her complete creative process and the benefits of
becoming a "Daily Painter".

*information subject to change*

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'Underpainting the Light'


Learn to capture light with Rita's innovative light-filled underpainting technique. Though Rita will
demonstrate her process with an animal, this workshop is not subject specific. You will learn the
connection between values and temperatures that can infuse any subject with beautiful, believable
warm light.

Students will work from their own photos. Photos that show a
definite light source (ie: sunlight) and shadows, will work best. Avoid cloudy-day or flash-lit photos.

*information subject to change*

Rita Kirkman 'Macaw - Pastel'.JPG

'The Intimate Animal Portrait'


Rita has an unexplainable fascination for compelling non-human faces. During this workshop she will
share her method of painting small, lively animal portraits that capture attention!  
Instruction will emphasize composition techniques for a small format, control of values for convincing form, and how to
creatively interpret your photos.  
Students will work from their own photo. Clear photos with good light are recommended. Bring several and Rita will help you choose.

*information subject to change*

Rita Kirkman 'Prime - Pastel'.JPG

'Fur, Feathers and Fuzz - Textural Illusions' Using Underpaintings


Utilizing a textural underpainting medium can be a delightful time-saving method for creating the
illusion of a multitude of animal coats, from wool to manes to fluffy down. Combine application
techniques with a knowledge of values to put a little punch in your plumage and some fun in your fleece. 
Students will work from their own photos. Clear photos with
good light are recommended. Bring several and Rita will help you choose

*information subject to change*