Richard McKinley’s Pastel Pointers | The Pastel Family Reunion

Urania Christy Tarbet and Maggie Price, IAPS presidents, past and present.

When I began painting with pastel back in the 1970s, it was thought of as a minor medium in most art circles. Sure there was Degas, but most artists associated pastel to the delicate portrait sketches produced quickly by street artists. It was suitable for sketching, but to be taken seriously as an artist, other media had to be used. Unhappy with this notion, a few tenacious artists rebelled and banded together to form pastel societies. These early pioneering organizations promoted the virtues of pastel and exposed a new generation of artists to its charms. As membership grew, other societies were formed. As of today, there are well over 65 active societies within the United States and countless others around the world. Pastel has truly become a big family.

Helping a student in one of my workshops.

In 1994, Urania Christy Tarbet, one of those pioneering pastelists, came up with an idea: “Wouldn’t it be grand to have an umbrella organization that could unite all of the regional societies.” She understood the importance of strength in numbers and so was born “The International Association of Pastel Societies,” commonly known as IAPS. By banding these individual societies together, a strong voice for the promotion of pastel as a valid, quality medium was created. IAPS provides a network for individual artists, working through their member societies, to share ideas and expand the knowledge of the medium. Urania served as president of the organization until 2009 when another tireless promoter of pastel stepped into the position, Maggie Price. The organization’s officers and directors read like a who’s-who of the pastel community and countless others continue to volunteer their efforts on its behalf.

IAPS attendees getting ready for a presentation.

In 1995, the first IAPS convention was organized as a means of bringing the individual society members together in one location, and one has followed every two years since that date. This year’s biennial convention will be the ninth and is slated for June 2nd through the 5th in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These conventions offer a multitude of offerings such as: short workshops with acclaimed instructors, demonstrations from some of our pastel heroes, critiques and business tips from major art publishers, juried exhibitions of inspiring pastel paintings, and the opportunity to investigate and purchase the continually expanding offerings from major pastel vendors at the trade show—affectionately referred to as “The Candy Store.” The person in charge of keeping all of this running smoothly is Susan Webster, IAPS Executive Director. She is the cool level-headed general and does a phenomenal job. But the most rewarding part of the convention is the ability to connect with other like-minded painters. Just hanging out in the lobby of the hotel, or wandering the trade shows aisles, provides limitless opportunities to reconnect with old painting friends or the possibilities of making new ones. In a world where pastel painters can feel like the odd artist out, you will find yourself among family. Hope to see you at the reunion; be sure to say hi!

There is still time to register for the convention and a few openings are available in some of the classes/demonstrations. For more information on IAPS and the upcoming convention, visit their website at: For up-to-the-minute IAPS news, check out the IAPS blog at: .


In a demonstration.

As you can see, we’ve had a change of platform for our Artist’s Network website, which includes changes for all the associated blogs and magazine home pages. We’re still tweaking elements at this point, so please bear with us while we make necessary adjustments. A few tips: If you want to receive email alerts of new posts, you can sign up for our automatic feed on the blog home page. The link is on the right, under “Artist’s Network Feeds;” just click on Pastel Pointers blog. If you are used to searching for information in older blog posts, you’ll see that the search tool now pulls content from the entire site. To narrow your search, type in “pastel pointers blog” and then the subject you’re looking for. Example: pastel pointers, simultaneous contrast.









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9 thoughts on “Richard McKinley’s Pastel Pointers | The Pastel Family Reunion

  1. drew49

    The instructions to click on the Pastel Painters Blog under the ‘Artist Network Feeds” (on the right hand side of this page above) gives me nothing but software language….there is no place to ‘sign up’…this is really disappointing. I have been getting 2 emails a day for over a week and get the same gibberish.

  2. garybaughman

    Please return to the old format. I have been looking for Richard’s blog for two weeks and finally was able to find it today. Your new format is difficult to navigate and doesn’t interest me in the least. If I wanted to buy something or subscribe to something, I would do so. The blatant advance of the ads on the home page and beyond turns me off. Also, clicking on the home page in email gets the blog in HTML and is useless. Listen to your readers. I know that I speak for a hundred more who haven’t written.

  3. talley

    Just adding my displeasure on the redesign of Richard’s excellent blog. Does anyone else find it ironic that a website supposedly devoted to art instruction designed and posted such a pedestrian and, well, frankly, ugly blog. I used to visit Richard’s blog frequently, not only for the current post but also as a valuable reference tool. The ability to do that now is gone. Plus one aspect of visiting any blog aside from the actual content is the inspiration and sense of community that a good blog creates and, which as much as the content, brings readers back again and again to browse and reread. Richard’s original blog was a beautiful example of that kind of blog. Again, all gone with this awful redesign. I hope you are able to attract many new users to this site now because you will be losing many visits from this reader and I assume many others. I will of course still come by to read Richard’s latest tips but am unlikely to come by for any other reason.

  4. anneh

    Hi everyone,
    Anne here (Pastel Journal editor). I am sorry about the frustration over the new platform for the blog. Unfortunately, when we moved the Artist’s Network website over to a new platform (and there were many advantages for doing so), we had to bring the associated blogs with them onto the new platform as well, and in doing so, we weren’t able to keep all the functionality of the old blog. One advantage I am excited about, however, is that website visitors who may not be familiar with Richard’s blog will be far more likely to access his posts through the site-wide searches they do. If visitors search “pastel” or “landscape” or “composition,” for example, they will likely run into some of the sage advice from Richard’s blog.

    I would like to do what I can to help improve the user experience, so let me first address the issue of the RSS feeds (that automatically alert you to posts through your email or iGoogle account), because I have some information to pass along from our development team:

    The Feedblitz account that was used for our old blogs will be updated, but it’s an outside service and we’re not involved with it. Over the next few weeks, all feeds on the site will be migrated to FeedBurner. The old Feedblitz account won’t be shut down, but if you have any issues, we’d encourage you to start following the FeedBurner feed instead. To sign up, look for the “Artist’s Network Feeds” on the right side of the blog home page.

    Also, depending on what Internet browser you’re using (Firefox or Safari, etc.), the browser provides functionality to subscribe to RSS feeds as well. For example, in Firefox, you’ll see an RSS icon in your address bar when you’re on a page; click on that icon and you’ll be given options for feeds to subscribe to. So, for example, if you go to the website and go to the Articles tab and then click “search by medium” and hit “pastel,” you can then go to the address bar of your browser and hit the RSS icon [it’s like an orange speaker symbol] and you’ll be signed up to receive notification of all pastel-related posts on the site.

    I hope this is helpful. For those who never bothered with RSS feeds, you can continue to count on new blog posts from Richard every Monday. Just visit the site each week and bookmark the link to his blog:

  5. wjay

    This site now looks like every other advertising- loaded site and there is nothing about it that I like. I agree with those who have already voiced their dislike. It is garrish in the layout, totally un-appealing, and more difficult to navigate
    , Why did we have to change a really good thing????

  6. dori

    In addition to what others have said, when I click on the email at my Yahoo address, I get the page in HTML code, same as when I click on the link FEEDS above right. I used to get the article on my Yahoo home page, but Yahoo is not among any options I can find.

    Richard, I hope you are screaming at this mess. A lot of your fans are!

  7. dianastover

    I, too, am very disappointed with this new format. I totally agree with the previous posts. I do not usually post comments at all, but this is bad enough that I am putting my two cents in. I loved the previous layout with a calendar on the left hand side of the screen to find previous posts. It was classy looking, well-organized, and easy to find what you were looking for. This new layout looks almost amateurish and I had a terrible time finding Richard’s blogs. I am trying to be somewhat kind and objective, but I hate this new format, too! PLEASE, don’t try to fix what isn’t broken!!!

  8. Rebaleon

    I agree with the previous post. First it took three or four tries to even FIND Richard’s blog in this stupid new layout. Just a notice in my email that it was all changed and when you click on the link it takes you to a site that tries to get you to sign up for their service and create your own blogs. I don’t want to do that! I want it back to where I used to get a nice email notice that contained Richard’s blog that I could read without having to go to another site and search for it. And a nice side bar that listed all previous articles. This is too unorganized, too messy and I HATE it!

  9. msb

    WHAT A MESS!!!!!!! Richard should be justifiably disgusted. I certainly am. Bring back the left-side links to Richard’s past posts. I regularly refer back to them. Bring back RICHARD MCKINLEY’S Pastel Pointers…..if I want “pointers” of other artists, I’ll search for THEIR blogs, but since I’m interested in Richard’s, please do not confuse his link with other’s posts.
    WE are the people who BUY the books and CDs and magazines, etc., etc., etc.!!!!! You just might want to heed the suggestions in these replies. “New” IS NOT always better!!!!!
    Richard??? Have you seen what a MESS they’ve made of the new, convoluted lay-out in order to attempt to net more names, postal addresses, email addresses for commercial purposes?????…..I had to re-create a new name and password (the old didn’t work!)…and fill out all my contact info before I could even post this!!!!!
    Magazine publishers complain of dwindling revenues……….this sort of antic certainly does NOT happy consumers create.

    And did you notice that not one of these posts (see posts for Richard’s previous blog) was jestful or cute or campy or comedic. This should tell you that your consumers find absolutely nothing redeeming in bad management.