This year was the Eleventh Biennial conference of the International Associations of Pastel Societies (IAPS). IAPS is the umbrella organization for the myriad of pastel societies that exist in the US as well as a few overseas. This year, there were 800 people registered for the conference!
The conference was held the first week of June, 2015 in Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico, at Hotel Albuquerque. Since I traveled to New Mexico with my husband and two dogs, we had to stay in a different hotel (because of the dogs, not the husband!). At first, I was disappointed not to be staying in the conference hotel, but after the first couple of days, appreciated getting away from the conference hotel in the evenings- the conference was sort of a “sensory overload” for me.
The conference has several parts to it. There are workshops that are hands-on, with instructors leading a one or two day workshop, with students using their own pastel supplies and producing their own paintings. There are also artist demonstrations- these are not hands-on for students, but people are able to observe some of the pastel world’s top artists at work for 3 hours- producing a painting right before our eyes. More about my chosen workshops and demonstrations below.
In conjunction with IAPS is one of the most amazing pastel exhibits in the country – PastelWorld- with almost 200 paintings on exhibit! Works included juried pieces from members belonging to one of the IAPS member societies, as well as works from the instructors and judges. This was my first time seeing so many pastel paintings in one exhibit! The show was amazing to be able to see in person. I was thrilled to see in person artwork from some admired artists such as Mike Beeman, Karen Margolis, William Schneider, Alan Picard and Richard McKinley, to name a few. I also discovered some new artists to me who’s work I really enjoyed, Vianna Szabo, and Marla Baggetta to name a couple. As part of our registration, all attendees received a high quality catalog of the PastelWorld exhibit, a nice memory of the exhibit. One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was that next to each painting was an artist statement- reading the artists’ thoughts about the painting made me view some of them differently. I wish more art exhibits would include this feature. We were allowed to take photos at the exhibit (the glare was horrible, so no worries about “stealing” somebody’s artwork for reproduction!). Here is a photo of Lisa Ober’s statement (she won an award for this painting):
Artist Statement, Lisa Ober, 2015 PastelWorld exhibit.
IAPS also invites pastel manufactures and other vendors to sell their wares in the vendors hall. Wow, talk about excitement! Being able to see all the Unison, Girualt and Terry Ludwig pastels in person! Terry Ludwig is my favorite pastel brand, and I’ve been using them since 2010. I finally got to meet Terry in person, his wife Marie and their son Geoff. I cannot tell you how exciting this was for me- I talked to Terry for about 20 minutes, head the story of how the business got started, and am glad to be able to support their family business. I ended up buying 42 Terry Ludwig sticks- this time was special because I got to pick them out in person! I mostly bought replacement sticks for those colors I was low on, but also picked out a few new lovelies!
Terry Ludwig booth at 2015 IAPS convention.
Terry Ludwig booth at 2015 IAPS convention.
Barbara with Terry Ludwig
There were many other events at IAPS, some of which I had to miss because I was too tired. I did make it to the buffet dinner on Thursday evening and the banquet on Saturday night, although missed the banquet presentation after dinner.
For my workshops, I choose to take a two day workshop with figure artist Diane Rappisi. The workshop was titled “Contemporary Approach to the Classical Figure”. I enjoyed the workshop Diane is very generous with her individual attention at the easel, and is very encouraging. I wish we had more time for her to explain her use of color- she is an amazing colorist, and I love the vibrancy of her work. Here is what I produced in the workshop (the first day we worked solely in charcoal, the next day in pastel):
Figure painting from Diane Rappisi’s IAPS workshop, pastel, 19″x24″
I also took a one day workshop “Painting the Commissioned Portrait”, taught by Luana Luconi Winner. Luana started out by showing us a wonderful slideshow of her work. She explained her supplies and how she works. She works with high end clients, and it was interesting to hear her experiences painting commissioned portraits of bank executives and North Carolina debutantes. She did a couple of painting demonstrations, working from a live model, then we had our hand at trying some of her techniques. I enjoyed the workshop, although didn’t finish my portrait!
The demonstrations weren’t hands on, but I enjoyed them more than the workshops! I attended a 4-hour portrait demonstration by artist William Schneider. I very much like his portraiture work and was very happy to see his approach. He finished a wonderful portrait in the 4 hours and captured the expression and got a good likeness of the model. Bill is a very generous teacher, and loves to talk art- I talked with him for about 45 minutes one-on-one after the workshop. I hope to take future workshops with Bill.
Mike Beeman did a wonderful 4-hour still-life demonstration. Mike has a wonderful sense of humor, and is very free with his pastels when painting. He was very inspiring, and I came home and produced probably my best still-life to date, using a few of his techniques in my own work. Mike allowed us to take photos during his demo, here is one of him at work and his setup:
Mike Beeman Still-life demo, 2015 IAPS.
The best part of IAPS was the gathering of pastel artists from all over the US and the world. Many of us paint in isolation- oil painters and watercolor artists seem to dominate the art scene around many of us pastel artists- usually when I attend local figure or portrait sessions, I am the only pastel artist. It was so exciting to be surrounded by 800 other pastel artists for a week! The biggest names in the pastel world were in attendance, and all were very generous with sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm of pastel art.
If I attend in the future, I will likely only sign up for the demonstrations only and not take a workshop. It was not fun hauling all my supplies from Califorina, including my easel, heavy pastel box and especially my large art board that holds a 19”x24” piece of paper required for Diane Rappisi’s workshop. I also found the workshops to be so exhausting, standing at the easel for three days, that I didn’t have the energy to attend some of the evening events.
IAPS would not exist without volunteers as IAPS and the conference are put together principally by volunteers. I am amazed at the dedication of the pastel community— and I can’t thank them enough! Thank you to all the volunteers!
Pastel artists are a special group of people, and I hope to be able to attend IAPS again in the future. I hope to meet some of you there too!
More about IAPS at: http://www.iapspastel.org/index.htm