It was 2001 and I was on a plane to Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA to attend the IAPS Convention (the Convention convened by the International Association of Pastel Societies, now commonly referred to as IAPS and pronounced “I-apse”). Although I didn’t know a soul, I was excited to meet some of my pastel heroes, watch their demos, and take their workshops. And I knew the common bond of soft pastels would open up conversations and that I’d make new friends. Which was exactly what happened! Since then, I’ve only missed one event. It’s that special!
So the IAPS Convention, let’s talk about that.
First, and most importantly I think, it’s a place and time to learn and connect. A close second is the “candy store” as the vendor trade floor is affectionately (and appropriately) known. Pastels and paper galore! It’s where we can see, try out, and purchase all the materials we need for soft pastel work, often at a pastel lover’s discount! Ahhhhh…..
And, want inspiration? Just check out the amazing collection of work at the Pastel World exhibition. Get ready to drool and gaze with passion, with wistfulness, with delight!
So what is IAPS and how did it come about?
It began with one woman’s dream. Urania Christy Tarbet was passionate about soft pastels and it became her mission to promote the medium.
In 1994, it all began to take shape. (Check out my short interview with Urania here.) She founded IAPS as a global coming-together of pastel societies under one roof, the roof of a non-profit organization that would organize a convention every two years. The first of these Biennial Conventions took place in 1995 in Denver, Colorado. (Read more about the history of IAPS here.)
After Urania stepped down from the helm, she was succeeded by Maggie Price, co-founder of the Pastel Journal. Liz Haywood-Sullivan took over the reins after Maggie’s untimely death in 2013. Currently, IAPS is headed by President Richard McKinley.
These hard-working and dedicated leaders are assisted by an amazing and committed Board and Executive Committee. Not to mention the legion of volunteers at the Convention itself! There’s a HUGE amount of work that goes on to make sure each event runs smoothly and satisfies us all. Kudos to all who work so tirelessly behind the scenes! It wouldn’t happen without you.
And why is the existence of IAPS and the Convention so important?
It’s an opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones. It’s a place to learn from a multitude of artists in one place. It’s a kind of gathering of the pastel clans (societies) where individuals find inspiration, instruction, and support from other like-minded souls, and where society presidents can meet and confer on how best to serve their communities. The existence of IAPS surely confirms the relevance of our medium!
Over the last couple of years, we’ve all been relegated to online sessions for our learning which have been a godsend during lockdown and times of social distancing but as you may know, there’s nothing quite like attending a live in-person demo or workshop.
Interacting in a three-dimensional world is completely different to our Zoom/Google Meet worlds! We can congregate in the halls and talk animately about our favourite topic or head out together for a coffee or glass of wine and get into a lively discussion!
This will be the 14th year of the IAPS Convention. Traditionally held every two years in the odd year, with COVID cancelling the 2019 Convention, the event was pushed forward one year and into this even year of 2022. But hey, it’s baaaaack and that’s all that matters.
And this time round, I’m delighted to be teaching a workshop. It’s called “Do More With Less” and it’s all about getting the most out of a starter set of pastels – using a limited palette, a favourite topic of mine!
The convention has developed into a kind of pilgrimage for soft pastel lovers globally. It’s a place to talk pastels, to revel in being with people of similar passions, to learn, connect, and be inspired.
I hope to see you there!
Let’s look at this winner from the IAPS 2021 Webshow
The most recent IAPS juried show was last year’s Webshow – check out all the entries here. The 2nd place winning piece by Donna Shortt particularly caught my attention. Here are a few reasons why:
- I love this time of day, taking a walk when the sky still has some colour in it yet the stars are beginning to peek out, when warm lights are illuminating objects and the environment nearby. This painting captures that feeling so well.
- I always enjoy a combo of saturated and desaturated colours
- It’s a fairly large piece so the broad pastel strokes are more evident
- I love the pattern of the large dark shapes and the smidge of light in the piece.
- I have to say too that I do like the title of the piece!