I began painting in pastel to recover from physical and emotional losses I experienced in college while pursuing a BFA from University of Arizona. A fatal automobile accident left me with injuries that eventually would stop me from working as an artist. Now, more than 30 years later, and after 10 years of painting and drawing with pastel, I realize I have been transmuting that loss and trauma into the energy and mobility I was forced to give up early in life. I work quickly and in short bursts of time in order to conserve energy and keep my pain at bay. There seems to be no other way for me to paint – gesturally, moving my body to make marks that express energy, even if I am in tremendous pain. Sometimes painting helps me feel pain-free. 

I used to be cautious about my strokes, staying within a controlled space in order to demonstrate to the art world that I could render accurately. Gradually I began to allow the edges in my work to change. Edges became less defined and more of a place of great discovery. Boundaries became opportunities for break throughs. Once my confidence in mark-making grew, I explored layering broken strokes of warm and cool colors together, much like the 19th century Impressionists. I find this approach to color gives a new dimension to my marks, and conveys the energy and immediacy I wish to express in my work. Through painting and teaching others, I hope to share the opportunity of personal growth and healing I have found through painting.”

Denali Brooke has lived most of her life in the southwest. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a BFA in 1987, she worked in the field of graphic design, creating logos and designs for businesses and retail sales companies.  She continued her education earning a MSW at Arizona State University in 1997.  While working in the field of substance abuse recovery, she counseled families  and individuals for four years and then entered research, computing treatment outcomes and presenting research results at conferences in both the U.S. and Canada. Among the many aspects of research, with her team, she edited treatment manuals (that include her artwork) and published research articles. She never gave up doing her art, creating designs and murals for various businesses, including painting murals to beautify the treatment facilities where she worked.  By 2005, she discovered pastels and five years later established Denali Brooke Art. She began entering her work in exhibitions in 2009, and began winning awards the following year.  In 2013, she gave her first demonstration before the Pastel Society of New Mexico and become a faculty member at the New Mexico Art League. In 2014, she taught her first international workshop in Spain (with Bill Canright) and achieved signature status in the Pastel Society of New Mexico by 2015.  One of her first classes was with her friend and colleague, Vasili Katakis, a pastelist who continues to influence her work and teaching approach. Dawn Emerson has also greatly influenced Denali’s work and teaching successes, since meeting her in 2012.  Other teachers she has studied with are Albert Handell and Casey Klahn.  She combines her love for working with people and art into her teaching.  She currently teaches painting in pastel and figure drawing. Denali is a member of the Rio Grande Art Association and the Pastel Society of America.  She is sole artist of Life is a Doodle designs and served on the steering committee of MasterWorks of New Mexico for 6 years.


2018 MasterWorks of New Mexico

2017 International Association of Pastel Societies Show

2015 International Association of Pastel Societies Show

2016 – 2010  MasterWorks of New Mexico

2015 – 2012 National Pastel Painting Exhibition

2014 Faculty Show – New Mexico Art League

2014 “Oases” – New Mexico Cancer Center (invitational)

2014  Spirit of the Horse – New Mexico Art League (invitational)

2014 Faculty Show – New Mexico Art League

2013 New Mexico Art League Student Show

2012 Portrait Society of America, Facing the Muse 


2018 Masterworks of New Mexico –

Sponsorship Award, “While You’re Away” 20 x 16″

While You're Away WEB

2015 National Pastel Painting Exhibition

Sponsorship Award, “Boulder Bottoms” 41 x 13″


2015 New Mexico Small Works – People’s Choice Award, “Deep Blue Hills” 6 x 8″


2013 National Pastel Paintings Exhibition – Sponsorship Award, “Dancer’s Dreams”

Dancer's Dreams

2013 New Mexico Art League Student Show

3rd place, “Tangelos & Copper with Lemon”

2012 Masterworks of New Mexico

First Place, “Humboldt Oak,” Miniatures in color pencil


2010 Masterworks of New Mexico – Award of Excellence, “Her Essence”


1987 Bachelor of Fine Arts – University of Arizona

1997 Master of Social Work – Arizona State University

Studied with:

Dawn Emerson

Vasili Katakis

Casey Klahn

Deborah Christensen Secor

Bruce McGrew

Albert Handell