Char Pribuss

Born in San Francisco, Char Pribuss came from an artistic family. Her mother was an artist, her uncle was an artist in Paris, and her sister was an artist. She started painting at age 12 and has never stopped. She studied art at the California School of Fine Art and subsequently at the Schaeffer School of Design.

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Fascinated and enchanted by children even as a young girl, she paid for her studies by doing portraits of children. During World War II, she had an art studio at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco where she painted the portraits of soldiers. She volunteered as a hostess at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco during the war. She met Rudy at an Officer’s Club event and married him six weeks later. (Rudy was a submarine officer in the US Navy and a Stanford engineering graduate).

She taught art classes at the San Mateo Arts Council in Belmont, CA for thirteen years, but became a student again, receiving her bachelors of fine arts from Nortre Dame de Namur in Belmont, CA at age 60.

She and her husband, Rudy, founded Paintbrush Diplomacy in the early 1970s. It exchanges the art and letters of students of similar ages between over 60 countries, helping break down the barriers between people and countries. The term “Paintbrush Diplomacy” was coined in a moment of inspiration in 1979 when being interviewed on the Today TV show. When she was asked what they called their painting exchange program, she answered, “Paintbrush Diplomacy!”

“We hope our children, their children, and the world's children will remember what these paintbrush diplomats did and will pick up their own ‘paintbrush’ to create a brighter world. We say, good luck, and go for a masterpiece!"


A resident of San Mateo, CA for over 50 years, Char celebrated her 92nd birthday in June 2011. She continues to paint daily and has had many shows, ranging from San Francisco galleries to the Wiegand Gallery at Nortre Dame de Namur. A devout Catholic, she attributes her longevity to art and God. 

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