Pansy Stockton Sunshine Day

In Honor of Santa Fe's Sun Painter



Date: March 31, 2023

Time: 9AM - 5PM 

Location: La Fonda on the Plaza | New Mexico Room

Capacity: 200 guests 


On December 30, 1953, New Mexico Governor Edwin Mechem stated: “Your sun paintings of New Mexico scenes faithfully portray the beauty that God gave our land of Enchantment. In recognition of the honor which you bring our State, I hereby proclaim that of the 340 days of New Mexico Sunshine each year, the sunniest of them all, your birthday, shall hereafter be known as Pansy Stockton Sunshine Day in New Mexico.”

Seventy years later, Pansy Stockton Sunshine Day 2023, will be celebrated on Friday, March 31 with a full-day event at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe.

At 9 am, noon, and 3 pm, the 1953 This Is Your Life TV episode featuring Pansy, who became friends with its host, Ralph Edwards, will show for forty minutes. At 10 am and 2 pm, footage of Pansy creating sun paintings in films made by Paramount, MGM, and Pathé will accompany a reading from Pansy’s handwritten speech notes about how and why she invented the art form. At 11 am, Pansy’s granddaughter will demonstrate how to make a sun painting. A storytelling time will begin at 4 pm for those with tales from her colorful life. Throughout the day, photographs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and old Santa Fe publications telling stories from her life will be displayed. In addition, La Fonda on the Plaza will host the largest exhibition of Pansy’s works for public viewing in decades.

Pansy Stockton created an art form made entirely of nature (leaves, bark, moss, twigs, etc.) that she called “Sun Painting.” Artist John Sloan stated at a public lecture at the New Mexico Museum of Art that he thought it was one of the most significant contributions to art in the United States in past one hundred years. Sun paintings hung at Buckingham Palace and in the White House. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited Albuquerque, she was presented with a Pansy Stockton sun painting and Pansy attended in a black velvet dress that she made herself.

Pansy lived, and lived well, solely from the sale of her art. In addition to oils and watercolors, she made over 5,000 sun paintings in her lifetime and had more orders for her work than she could fill. In 1956, she taught the Mouseketeers how to sun paint on an episode of The Mickey Mouse Club.

A luminary in Santa Fe for over three decades, from the late 1930s until her death in 1972, Pansy was decorating chair for La Fiesta numerous times, danced on the rooftop of La Fonda with fire dancer Jacques Cartier, played the Mae West role of Diamond L’il, sang at Santa Fe Opera fund raising events, participated in fashion shows at La Fonda, told fortunes in costume to raise money for the March of Dimes, and was part of the Dig ‘N Hope gardening club as well as that group with “the distinctive name” Stitch ‘N Bitch. Pansy’s Acequia Madre studio was a stop for dignitaries, Hollywood stars and producers, and art lovers visiting Santa Fe.

“During the last decade, Pansy Stockton has sold every Sun Painting she ever made,” wrote the Artesia Daily Press on November 3, 1957, “regardless of size and ranging in price from $40 to $1000. They say in Santa Fe today that Pansy Stockton is better known than many of the city’s famous landmarks.”

Pansy’s great-granddaughter is organizing the event and requests that anyone with a Pansy Stockton sun painting or other work, anyone with a story about Pansy to share, and anyone seeking more information, please contact Kat Bernhardt at or (505) 819-9667.