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Featured Artist
Cheri Saffro

August 2008
Rita Elaine Elkins

Native of AZ? If not where you relocated from and how long ago?
My husband and I wintered in Yuma AZ from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington beginning in 1998 (three years after I retired to that area from the Defense Department.) In 2000 we moved to the Sedona area for its art opportunities.

How long have you been involved with APAA?
In 2001 I attended the IAPS convention in Albuquerque which I knew about because of my membership in the Northwest Pastel Society. When I was there, I was surprised to hear that there was an Arizona Pastel Society, so joined it when I got back from the convention.

In what capacities have you served APAA?
Never President, I've been Secretary and IAPS Representative for the APAA.

What formal art education, if any, do you have?
My Bachelor of Science degree is in Business Management but I have taken college courses in Drawing, Oil Painting, and Digital Art.

What informal art education, workshops, etc. have you taken part in that have impacted your art?
My husband enrolled me in a 2- week pastel workshop with Albert Handell in the late 1990s so to prepare for that opportunity, I took a 3-day pastel workshop with Susan Ogilvie while I still lived on the Peninsula. (That's where Susan lives.)

Do you work in other media…or just pastel?
Up until the aforementioned instructors, I'd mostly worked in watercolor since 1988. Now I work in pastel, water-color, oil, acrylic, mixed media, collage, etc. and am somewhat of a workshop "junkie." .

Are you a full time artist? If not are you still working? If so, what do you do?
HA! What woman is full time anything?! I also love to play golf and dabble in genealogy. Then I also feel obligated to be a good housewife, mother, grandmother, daughter, neighbor.....!

Are you a member of other art organizations as well?
I'm a juried member of the Northern Arizona Watercolor Society and the Arts Alliance, and the El Valle Artists Association.

What are your goals for your art…a career, second career, enjoyment or hobby, become rich and famous, etc.
My goal is to become better at my art so that there will be some name recognition and value for it when I'm gone.

Why have you chosen pastels as a medium?
Because I have a big investment in pastels, and am most comfortable plein air painting in that medium.

Do you work in themes or series? If not…do you have favorite topics?
Not really. I love landscape painting because I love being outdoors and find beauty in almost any environment.

Are you represented by any galleries?
I'm represented by the Manheim Gallery in Cottonwood AZ and the Sedona Art Center Gift Gallery.

Any experiences, awards, etc. that have been boosts for your career?
I've won a couple of "Best in Shows" in AZ and 1st place for a pastel in the AZ State Fair the only time I entered it. That same pastel was selected in an IAPS exhibition in Raleigh NC. I need periodic wins or sales to keep my spirit up.

Are you married? Do you have children?
I've been married to Stephen for 28 years and we have a blended family of two accomplished women and one great guy and four grandchildren. However, alas, none of them live nearby.

Anything else that you would like to share about yourself?
I like black licorice if anyone wants to give me any.

Catch up with other Featured Artists:
May 2008 Barb Lang. | June 2008 Karen Budan | August 2008 Julia Patterson.

Questions or comments email to Kathy Herranen at