Authenticity in Soft Pastel


Kia ora, my name is Bernadette Ballantyne. I am a mum of two and ex-primary school teacher, living in the beautiful Waikato. I gained my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Whanganui back in 2005, and following that, art (although still my main passion) had been a bit of a side gig while I moved into Primary Teaching to obtain a secure income.

It was when I had my first child in 2019, that I fully realised that I wasn’t keen on continuing as a full-time teacher and upon a fortune stroke of serendipity, a colleague asked me if I could draw her son’s dog for her…and my commission-based art business was born. I have been working as a full-time portrait artist for two years now and have developed a passion for drawing with my new medium, soft pastels.

Bernadette Ballantyne: Russel


I have always had an interest in people portraiture and soft pastels have allowed me to create layers of detail and depth that help me portray the soul and emotion within my subjects. Through my portraits, I capture fleeting moments in our busy lives that are often missed or overlooked. I strive to evoke curiosity and an emotive response within my viewers, inviting them to discover the secrets and thoughts behind my subject’s gaze.

My latest portrait, “Resting Mum Face”, is a self-portrait. Daring to challenge the societal norms of smiling through the tough times and sharing an honest, authentic reflection on certain moments during motherhood. A quintessential snapshot of a moment that most parents would find familiar.

I’m drawn to entering (pun intended) the Parking Drawing Prize this year, as I’m ready to share more of these ideas within portraiture. In my art, I want to capture the essence of parenthood in New Zealand—the messy, beautiful, and sometimes hilarious moments that make up family life. From cuddles on the couch to epic meltdowns in the supermarket, the goal for my upcoming drawings is to reflect the real, raw experience of being a parent or wanting to be a parent, while throwing a casual glance towards societal views on family life in NZ.

Entering the Parkin Drawing Prize in 2024 is a chance to share my unique perspective on parenthood with a wider audience. Using soft pastels, I want to show how drawing can capture the rich tapestry of life as a working parent and how it has changed in modern times.

Bernadette and Resting Mum Face

Authenticity in Soft Pastel




Wednesday 28 February 2024 

Entries opened.

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Entries closed 1pm. 

Late June 2024

Works shortlisted for the prize announced.

 Monday 15 July – Friday 26 July 2024 

Works shortlisted for the prize to arrive at the Academy by 4pm.

 5 August 2024

The winner will be announced at the official awards evening at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

6 August – 1 September 2024 

The exhibition opens to the public.

Parkin Drawing Prize reserves the right to change any of the above dates.




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