At the 8th Annual Plein Air Convention (PACE) in San Francisco, California, Eric Rhoads honored master pastelist Albert Handell with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the world of art.

Watch a tribute video to Albert Handell here:

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1937, Handell started drawing with chalks on the city streets and sidewalks near his home. He began formal studies of drawing and anatomy at the age of 16, and in 1954 enrolled at the Art Students League of New York.

Since 1961, he has had over 30 one-man shows — including a pastel retrospective in 2007 at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio — and he has received more than 70 prizes and awards from national and international organizations.

Albert Handell -
Albert Handell, Jean Stern, and Eric Rhoads during the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation

Handell has authored or co-authored five instructional art books on pastel and oil painting and was one of the first plein air artists to work with a full set of pastels on location. He works en plein air with pastels and does oil painting in his studio. He autographed copies of his most recent video, Painting in Oil, during the Plein Air Convention.

Albert Handell -
Albert Handell during his pastel painting demonstration at the Plein Air Convention & Expo

In 1987, the Pastel Society of America elected Handell into the Pastel Hall of Fame, and the Pastel Society of the West Coast later bestowed on him its first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

Handell’s paintings are in numerous private and public collections, in addition to many museums, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York; the State Collection of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; and the Albrecht-Kemper Museum, Saint Joseph, Missouri.

Handell spent five years living and working in Europe in the 1960s before returning to the U.S. He lived in Woodstock, New York, until 1984, when he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he still resides, painting out of his renovated two-car garage.

Listen to an interview with Albert Handell on the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads here:

PACE is the largest gathering of landscape and plein air artists in the world. To learn more and to register for the next convention, visit

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