Maryland Pastel Society newsletter


Report from the 2011 IAPS Convention

At the IAPS Convention in Albuquerque last month, I attended two sessions for presidents of pastel societies and wanted to pass along some data for you. At the Presidents’ Dinner (good food!), IAPS President Maggie Price covered some of the improvements they’ve made over the past two years, including the following:

Improved communications: The IAPS newsletter now reaches over 2,200 members of pastel societies across the US and abroad, providing news about pastels, IAPS exhibitions, upcoming events and conventions, and other issues important to pastel artists everywhere. If you’re not already getting the IAPS newsletter, please take a moment to sign up on the IAPS website,

Improved conventions: They’ve increased the number of classes, demos, and workshops available, and are now using video cameras to project the demos onto adjacent screens, improving everyone’s view. They’ve instituted online registration for everything, so you know right away whether you’ve gotten a seat in a class. In 2011, only 6 of the 457 pre-registrations were mailed in.

Improved website: They’ve added pages where member societies can showcase their organizations and their members’ work, and a page where member societies can list their upcoming national shows.

Fundraising: A new feature at the 2011 convention was “Pastel Pics,” a silent auction of small pastel paintings donated by Master Circle artists. Convention goers had three days to bid on the paintings, with the results announced on Sunday, the last day of the convention. As of Friday night, they had already raised over $5,000 for IAPS.

New Master Circle Exhibition: They’ve instituted a new show of works by IAPS Master Circle artists, held in conjunction with the biennial IAPS juried show.

Maggie also addressed the issue of holding the conventions in Albuquerque (apparently people had asked why it was always there). She said the IAPS board examined a variety of other options for venues, but four main reasons led them to conclude that Albuquerque was the best choice:

  1. The hotel is giving them a huge break on the cost: this year, IAPS accounted for every room and completely full occupancy during the convention week;
  2. Airfares and lodging costs are cheaper than many of the other options;
  3. There’s a vibrant art community and lots of places to visit in and around Albuquerque; and
  4. IAPS has purchased a lot of equipment for the conventions (including 27 mud lamps used to light painting set-ups, 13 easels, and a whole mess of extension cords and powers strips). Between conventions, all this stuff is stored by Maggie, who lives in Albuquerque. If the convention were moved, IAPS would have to pay to have all that stuff shipped to the new site.

Vice President Liz Heywood-Sullivan covered the expanding size of both the physical exhibitions and the web shows in 2009 – 2011 and then spoke a bit about the effort to develop a voluntary lightfastness standard for pastels. (See her open letter to society members included in our Spring 2011 news update.) We also got a finance report (went way too fast to take notes!) and additional data on IAPS exhibitions.

On Saturday there was a Presidents’ meeting, presided over by Urania Christy Tarbet. Among the topics discussed was a proposal from one of the North Carolina societies to standardize the pixel sizes and resolution requirements for images being submitted to IAPS member societies’ national shows (the MPS Board is working on this). In addition, several societies offered ideas for group activities or fundraising. These included art challenges, where members produce work based on a common theme or using a common idea or object; “artist of the month” programs where members bring recent paintings to meetings and the attending members vote on the “best in show” (the winning artist gets a small glass award and is eligible for “artist of the year”); an auction of gently-used art supplies with the proceeds going to the society to fund workshops; an “alla prima” auction, where several volunteer artists produce small paintings during a meeting that are auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the society; collaboration with a local non-profit where members donate paintings that the non-profit auctions off at a special exhibition, with the proceeds split between the two groups (this relies on choosing the right non-profit with a large and active support base); and having society members volunteer to give pastel demos and classes at local schools and group homes, making sure the events are well publicized.