Have you had a chance to explore the IAPS online show yet? There are two divisions: the 41st Open Division and the 9th Master Circle Division. The Master’s Circle is for members who have attained the IAPS-MC status (by gaining five points through acceptance into shows and winning awards) while the Open division is for everyone else!

For today’s article, I thought I’d have a look through the 41st Open Division of the IAPS online show and choose five non-winning pieces, ones that just caught my eye. (I show the top two winners here.)

A LOT of paintings caught my eye (including the winners) so this was trickier than I thought it would be! Looking through my collection of images, I began to see a common theme. Sorting through, I came up with five paintings and it’s these that I’ll be sharing with you today.  

And the theme? It’s to do with colour, less intense colour. Specifically, greys and browns. These colours are not much seen on my palette but I admire when others use those de-intensified colours in wondrous ways.

Let’s get cracking! In no particular order….

Here’s the first one and it’s by Aidan Butler.


IAPS online show: Aidan Butler, "Winter Stand," pastel, 12 x 12 in
Aidan Butler, “Winter Stand,” pastel, 12 x 12 in.


Aidan Butler’s painting evokes the darkness of winter. It reveals the substance and vitality of trees without their bright foliage. They stand strong and solid, withstanding the ravages of time… and the cycles of the seasons. A breeze blows and the small outer branches wave about. Although it’s an overcast day, soft light gently illuminates the landscape. Brown colours warm the otherwise cool scene. It’s a place we could walk by and not notice. But this artist did. He shows us the beauty in the bare landscape.

Moving on, have a look at this pastel still life by Fiona Carvell.


IAPS online show: Fiona Carvell, "Ladle Selfie II," pastel, 15 x 12 in
Fiona Carvell, “Ladle Selfie II,” pastel, 15 x 12 in.


This piece definitely stopped me. There’s such clarity to the three objects yet it’s far from photorealism. I love the way the composition leads my eye from the top left, bouncing diagonally down the ends of the utensils. The fork’s subtle cast shadow directs me down to the shelf where I move left to find the reason behind the title – a self-portrait of the artist visible in the curve of the ladle. The circular opening on the far left grabs my attention away and the red streak moves me swiftly upward to the slotted spoon. I repeat my journey around the piece, more slowly this time, taking in the nuanced colour in the light areas, the play of red throughout the whole piece, and the reflective shine of metal. 

Next, we have a painting by Tanya Trinkhaus Glass.


IAPS online show: Tanya Trinkaus Glass, "Massai Cottage Diamond-Cut," pastel 21 1/2 x 29 1/4 in
Tanya Trinkaus Glass, “Massai Cottage Diamond-Cut,” pastel 21 1/2 x 29 1/4 in.


This is a composition of shapes – shapes of warm ochre, luminescent greys, and deep darks. The heart shape mid-painting catches my attention. It’s composed of pieces of what? Clay? Leaves? It doesn’t actually matter what the substance is. The painting is based on a reality seen – mud, leaves, sticks, straw and how they weave together to create this small section of a wall – but has morphed into abstraction. In this version, we delight in colour, marks, shape, edges, variation in all of these, and subtlety of all of these. The circular composition leads us around the painting, encouraged by the linear forms (branches) that encourage us to move along and explore all parts.

Next, check out this painting by John Sherry, a painting, by the way, that’s the exact size of Aidan Butler’s painting above.


IAPS online show: John Sherry, "Blue Paintbrush," pastel, 12 x 12 in
John Sherry, “Blue Paintbrush,” pastel, 12 x 12 in.


Moving from the arranged chaos and complexity of the previous piece, we come to this painting with its bold simplicity. And I rather delight in the irony of pastels capturing a brush laden with liquid paint as it rests against the wood (a fence perhaps) that it’s just painted. The hard edge of the off-centre brush handle is balanced by the dark vertical to the left. Almost dead centre, the knot of wood, doesn’t play first fiddle as it might in its positioning but is relegated to the background by the star – the paintbrush. Such a small insignificant scene – a brush set down while the painter takes a break perhaps – elevated to the status of a painting. There’s kind of a meta thing going on here – a painting of paint, the fence painter as artist…

And finally, here’s a figurative piece by Elaine Despins.


IAPS online show: Elaine Despins, "Kara," pastel, 16 x 12 in
Elaine Despins, “Kara,” pastel, 16 x 12 in.


There’s a lightness of being here. This figure glows against the dark background.  A young girl – Kara – at least she looks young to me evidenced by her slim seemingly adolescent body and ponytail – stands, head down. She holds something in front of her – a vase, a container? Of what? And why? So much mystery here. A beautiful rendering of the figure with subtle form shapes in the arms and face. A mix of light and heavy pastel application in a very high key colour choice all of which is negated by the darkness of the paper that surrounds and comes through the floating figure. I just want to keep looking at it, to solve the mystery, to delight in the marks, to wonder at the artist’s intent in using this way to paint this figure.

And there you have my selections on a theme of greys. 

Go check out all the fabulous paintings in the IAPS online show!



And because today is Halloween….


For fun, here’s a photo I saw on Eric Rhoads’s Instagram feed. Says something about the man don’t you think? I’m talking about his commitment to plein air painting lol!


Eric Rohaos plein air painting! - Happy Halloween
Eric Rhoads plein air painting! – Happy Halloween!


If you’re a celebrator of Halloween, have fun!! Honestly, my preference is to sneak away to a movie or find a quiet spot somewhere away from the trick-and-treaters! You? Perhaps you’re participating in Samhain and marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. (This festival being of Celtic origin, relates to the northern hemisphere.) Happy 31st October!

And that’s it for this time,



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