Tag Archives: Holbein pastels

IAPS – A Whale Of A Time!

Settling back into real life after a fabulous time at the 2015 International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What to tell you about it??

Well, for the first time, I was totally on the Vendor side of the Convention – I didn’t register as a participant (for one, it sold out so quickly – which is fantastic!) so I didn’t sign up for any demos.

IAPS: My official vendor badge!

My official vendor badge!

I got to serve and play in the Candy Store both at the Holbein booth and at the Schminke booth. At each place, I was greeted by many of my subscribers who shared how much they love this blog. Wow – talk about walking on air!!! Makes all this effort oh so worth it. I’m kicking myself for not getting photos of me with these encouraging folk.

I also didn’t get photos with myself cozying up to the big whigs and my pastel heroes. Why I didn’t do that I can’t tell you – I just never thought of it at the time. Argh. I’ll do better in 2017! The connecting with old friends and making new ones is a huge part of the joy at IAPS. Here are a few photos in the trade show:

IAPS - Working (and playing!) at the Trade Show

IAPS – Working (and playing!) at the Trade Show. From top right down: Doug Hopper (Holbein head honcho), my friend and artist Stephanie Birdsall, and me; Me and Marla Baggetta who I was lucky enough to chat with over a long lunch; Me and my ‘boss’ Gary at the Schminke booth; Stef, her friend Alex Barlett who I was so happy to get to know, and Urania Tarbet Christy – founder of IAPS; Stef, Terry Ludwig (the man himself!) and me; and finally Doug Hopper in the Holbein booth.


One of the really fun things at IAPS was the Paint-Around with Stan Sperlak, Tony Allain, Terri Ford, Alain J. Picard, and Marla Baggetta – what a hoot. Each artist starts a painting then every 10 minutes, the painting moves on one person until it comes back to the originator. I only saw the end of the event but could, on entering, feel the fun and frantic energy in the room.

When not demoing over at the Schminke booth in pastels, I was playing around in acrylic (heavy body and the new fluid paint), Acryla Gouache, and water soluble pastels at the Holbein booth, showing off how fabulous the products are. This while Stef showed off her skills in pastel at the Holbein booth.

IAPS - Paint Around participants, My playful paint experiments, Stef pastelling at the Holbein booth

Paint Around participants; my playful paint experiments; and Stef pastelling at the Holbein booth

Then there was the IAPS exhibition itself that I managed to dash into a couple of times (but regrettably missed the walk-around with Duane Wakeham). So many wonderful pictures!! Happy to see many that have been featured in my monthly round-up!

It wasn’t all work. The first day I got there (Tuesday 2 June), I managed to get in the pool. The outside temperature was so warm. What a treat. Ahhhhhhhhhh. AND, to top it all off, that night there was a full moon. Sigh.

IAPS- Enjoying life in Albuquerque!

Enjoying life! Me at the pool; view from the bedroom of the town of Albuquerque under the full moon; gorgeous flowers near the pool

Here are some of the other cool things that happened:


– I danced like crazy Thursday night with Stef as my partner then persuaded Schminke’s Gary to have a dance, and eventually got a whole heap of gals up to dance to Artisan Art Store’s own Ron Whitmore’s band

– I recorded about 10 short video interviews (which I will be posting in the next few days) thanks to the generosity of the artists who participated

– I enjoyed the keynote talk at the Saturday banquet by Esther Bell (Curator in Charge, European Paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) about the effect of the French Revolution on the way pastels were used in later decades. It’s only now that the full force and styles of pastels is being revived

– I ate and drank very well thanks in huge part to Holbein’s Doug Hopper and to other kind souls around

– I caught up with my friend Stephanie Birdsall – a lot can happen in two years!

– I had wonderful conversations with so many fabulous artists like Duane Wakeham, Jimmy Wright, Sandra Burshell, Bill Creevy, and Marla Baggetta. I only wish I could have found the time to do more socializing (for example, Sally Strand and I totally missed getting together – I don’t know how that happened!).

– I did two demos in the Schminke booth and was generously provided with UArt and Pastel Premier papers to try out. I loved them! Not so much worry now about the unavailability of Wallis paper. I will show you the demo progress of the pieces in my next blog.

– On Sunday 7th June, after connecting with various folk in the morning, I made my way to the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History just around the corner. (I got caught in an unusual 2-min downpour getting there. Crazy! I was pretty wet by the time I found the entrance.) I’ll share some of the work I saw in a blog for gailsibley.com. In the meantime, here’s a few images to keep you going.


And that’s about it!

Being at the IAPS Convention really was a time of joy – hanging out with people who love pastels as much as I do in beautiful and warm New Mexico. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Until next time,

~ Gail


PS. Really, I’m not Rita!

IAPS-The twins: Rita Kirkman and me!

At IAPS, I met Rita Kirkman. Everyone thought I was her! I wonder why…..



Eyes Wide Open – All About Seeing Colour!


Yay, I just released a new pastel demo on YouTube. A lot of people have asked me about how I see colour? Well this video tells you a little bit about just that.



Here’s the thumbnail I did before the pastel. You can see it’s divided up into three values. As long as you understand values, you really can go crazy with colour. Just make sure your colour corresponds to the value that you want to reproduce.


Quick thumbnail (1.5 x 1.5 in) to set up design and values

1. Quick thumbnail (1.5 x 1.5 in) to set up design and values


Here’s the set up of pears in life (well in a photograph of the pears in life – gets complicated!).


The three pears waiting to be painted.

2. The three pears waiting to be painted.


And here’s the same set up in black and white so you can see the values:


The pears shown in black and white

3. The pears shown in black and white


Here’s the initial drawing in charcoal on Wallis paper:


Wallis paper with a watercolour wash and the charcoal outline of pears. Notice that I changed the stem on the pear on the left so as to fit it into the square format!

4. Wallis paper with a watercolour wash and the charcoal outline of pears. Notice that I changed the stem on the pear on the left so as to fit it into the square format!


I didn’t show the full range of pastels in the video, just the outside of the box and later, the 11 pastels used. So here’s the whole collection of pastels:


Stephanie Birdsall’s collection of Holbein pastels

5. Stephanie Birdsall’s collection of Holbein pastels


I don’t usually use Holbein pastels for a whole piece but I’m rather pleased with the way this one turned out! And here it is:


Gail Sibley, “Three Pears,” pastel on paper, 5.5 x 5.5 in

6. Gail Sibley, “Three Pears,” pastel on paper, 5.5 x 5.5 in


It’s amazing, as children we use colour intuitively and we are completely happy with the results. As we get older and ‘wiser’ we may be influenced by those who surround us (parents, teachers, friends) who with good intentions, direct us to a different choice of colours, one that more ‘realistically’ matches the outside world. They are safe colours, predictable and bearing a recognizable resemblance to the subject being painted. But there comes a time when we want more, we want to give expression to some inner calling of colour. We are bored and we want to break out of the rut we are in. And this is where learning to see colour comes in.


With practice, you can see colour. I find that some days I can ‘see’ colour better than others so beware of days like that and don’t be too hard on yourself.


Keep an eye out for that unexpected colour that just punches out at you when you least expect it. You know, when you turn to look at something and before your brain kicks in to recognize what you’ve just seen, you see that pure violet patch on the street. (When your mind figures it out, you’ll find the colour simmers down into a grey sort of asphalt colour.)


Rather than think of the rules and colour theory as you paint, just look. Sit and look until some colour emerges and put it down on the paper. It’s exciting stuff!!!


Let me know how you make out seeing colour in your next piece okay? I do want to hear from you! Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post – I attached them all to the blog. You can see them, and my responses, by clicking here to go to the post.


Until next time,

~ Gail


PS. Speaking of seeing colour, do you know Harry Chapin’s song “Flowers Are Red”? It’s such a sad one….and it’s all about seeing colour!!! Click on the image to hear it.


Harry Chapin singing "Flowers are Red"