Featured Artist Julie Skoda

Artist Julie Skoda presents an uplifting collection of light-filled tropical landscapes painted with pastels. Find more of her work on her website.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Path to the Point” soft pastel, 6” x 12”


My painting life has been largely influenced by water. We are a boating family and when I’m in Illinois I live near lakes and rivers. However, I am spending more and more time in the Florida Keys on a boat or kayak, and have turned my interest into painting the Florida mangroves.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Into the Mangroves” soft pastel, 16” x 10”


I love the close up views of the mangrove roots and how they interact with shallow water. The swirl of light and dark shapes is perfect for interpretative mark making with pastel sticks.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Day at the Dunes” soft pastel, 12” x 6”


I enjoy painting outdoors and capturing the scene quickly with all of the color influences in front of me. These paintings tend to be more representational and are not always finished. Greenberg Mangrove, Path to the Point and Day at the Dunes are all examples of plein air painting.


pastel painting of mangroves

“Greenberg Mangrove” soft pastel, 12″ x 6″


In the studio, using my own photos or one of my paintings for a reference, I tend to be more experimental with my painting style and lean towards abstract.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Reflecting” soft pastel, 12” x 7”


I often start a painting with watercolor, embracing the drips and the colors flowing together. I then add layers of beautiful pastel pigment to the sanded paper surface.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Blue Calm” soft pastel, 24” x 14”


Using the broad edge of the pastel stick, I can move the pigment in different directions to create movement and energy in the painting.


Pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Greenberg Park” soft pastel, 12” x 9”


The focal area of the painting will have smaller, more deliberate marks to draw the viewer into the painting.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Let the Sun Shine” On left: watercolor underpainting/On right: finished painting with pastel, 10” x 18”


When it feels right, I like to leave parts of the watercolor exposed in the final painting. Greenberg Mangrove and Let the Sun Shine are both plein air painting examples of the watercolor and pastel together.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Light Curves” soft pastel, 18” x 18”


I have an undergraduate degree in art, but most of my education came later in life from workshops and classes studying with artists whose work I admire.


pastel painting by Julie Skoda

“Water Under the Bridge” soft pastel, 12” x 9”


I currently teach pastel painting classes and workshops in the studio and online throughout the year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have recorded more than fifty short instructional videos for my classes.


Artist Julie Skoda plein air painting at the Indiana Dunes

Artist Julie Skoda plein air painting at the Indiana Dunes


I am involved in many art societies including the Chicago Pastel Painters and the Pastel Society of America. I am also the president of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA) and use my watercolor experience to augment my pastel paintings.


Artist Julie Skoda invites you to follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Vimeo.


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  1. Julie,
    I like your paintings “Under the Mangroves and “Greenberg Mangrove”. Just intriguing.

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