All about Paula

Paula Phelps

Paula Phelps

Paula returned to her art in 2003 after a lapse of way too many years, back to a passion she knew would haunt her until she paid it some attention. But a passion her busy life as a journalist in New York City didn't allow. "Art work takes a lot of time and energy, but my job as a reporter for Sports Illustrated for thirty years, took more. That left minus zero."

And so when she pared back her writing ways, Paula decided it time to bite the bullet and join the workshops available to her on the East End of Long Island, now that her second home was fast becoming her first in Montauk. "It wasn't the easy segue that I had imagined. I thought I simply could spill over all those millions of words I had been writing into painted images, and in a somewhat respectable fashion," she adds. After all, art had always been easy for her to render.

So much so, that at the age of eight she earned a scholarship for talented and gifted children at the Carnegie Institute of Art in Pittsburgh. "I never doubted then that it was what I should be doing every Saturday morning, going across town - two streetcars and a bus, to the Tam O'Shanter class taught by JC Fitzpatrick, an instructor to generations of Eastern Pennsylvanian artists including Andy Warhol and Philip Pearlstein." She would move on to the Palettes painting classes as a teenager, and eventually to the more advanced life drawing courses, hosted by Carnegie Tech University. In the summers she assisted a commercial silkscreen artist.

But that's where any formal art education ended, and she became a beginner all over again with rusty brush and all. "You know, as a journalist they told me I had to contain my spirit, now they say I need to release it. I'm confused."

Paula views her work as experimentation; as studies and exploration, as she did much of her life's experiences, while struggling to catch up with time lost in color and technique. She is inspired by the vitality and vibrancy of the world around her. She paints with spontaneity and dances around the page, taking you with her, here, there and back again. Her paintings are works of motion, rendered loosely with a sense of bravado in line and color, and convey the dynamics of the experience to you, the viewer.

Paula's paintings, now exclusively pastels and abstracts, have been in group and one-man shows at the Depot Art Gallery and other venues in Montauk and East Hampton at the eastern end of Long Island, N.Y., and the Salmagundi Art Club and National Arts Club, home to the Pastel Society of America, in Manhattan; as well as in various public places in Florida. Many are in private collections in New York City and London, and in states coast to coast.

Paula won First Place for a pastel still life at her Florida debut in 2006. Since then her paintings have regularly won awards locally. In 2013, one of her endangered species series entitled Vanishing won the prestigious Bradley/Mayer Award at the St. Augustine 4th Annual Nature & Wildlife Art Exhibition. And, for three years in a row she has won Best of Show at Cape Canaveral's Spring Show. In the meantime her work was being acknowledged in New York with an Award of Excellence at the Salmagundi Art Club and Award of Merit in the annual Pastel Society of America's student show at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.

Both 2020 and 2021 were especially good years for Paula, topped off by her being awarded Signature Membership in the PSA in 2021.

- Pastel Society of America's 48th annual international "Enduring
Brilliance" with "Poetic Promises"
- International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) annual
exhibition with "Sonoma Sill"
- Pastel Society of the West Coast's "Pastels USA 2020"
international show - winner of the Waif Mullin Award with
Sonoma Sill
- Pastel Society of New Hampshire's 12th annual national show
"It's Pastel!" with Indelible Spirit.
- Pastel Society of New Mexico's 28th annual national pastel show
- winner of the Ampersand Award with Scattered

- Pastel Society of Eastern Canada's 25th international "Les
Pastellistes" - winner of Fifth Place with Unchained


- Left Coast Pastel Painters Society with "Lost in Mango" and "My Funny Valentine"
- Pastel Society of America's 49th annual International "Enduring Brilliance" with "Finding Serenity"

- Awarded Signature Membership in the Pastel Society of America


- Paula was featured in the well-known French art magazine
Practique des Art, July 2021, special issue, Pastels,
Vol. 56


- Pastel Society of America's 50th annual international show "Enduring Brilliance" at the National Arts Club in NYC with Will o' the Wisp.

Paula has been director of Montauk's Depot Gallery on Eastern Long Island, N.Y., her summer home, for nearly 25 years.