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.
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.
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: www.pastelinternational.com. For up-to-the-minute IAPS news, check out the IAPS blog at: http://iapsconvention.blogspot.com .
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
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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