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Philippine Pastel Artists – Recipient Of An IAPS 2023 Global Society Grant

A few months ago, an email from the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) announcing the three recipients of the 2023 IAPS Global Society Grants brought a delightful surprise. Along with the Arkansas Pastel Society and the Pastel Society of New Jersey, there was a less-known gem – the Philippine Pastel Artists.

What made this selection stand out even more was that the society was located in the same country as my Virtual Assistant Sarah. So we immediately reached out to find out more about this unknown-to-us pastel group and to ask if we could feature 10 of their artists. This blog post is the result! 

Throughout this post, you’ll see the work of 10 members chosen by the group. We asked for a range of styles and subjects and also suggested an equal number of men and women. 

Roland Castro, The Sculptor, 2023, pastel on paper, 25 x 19 in
Roland Castro, “The Sculptor,” 2023, pastel on paper, 25 x 19 in.
An artist in the realist tradition, versed in oil, acrylic, gouache, watercolour, and pastel, Roland Castro draws inspiration primarily from nature, manifesting his vibrational visions on paper and canvas. One noteworthy aspect of his artistic works is the appealing dramatic impact achieved by his skillful utilization of colour and manipulation of light to accentuate the elements within the composition.

Now let’s get on with the interview!

1. When was the group Philippine Pastel Artists formed and what led to its formation?

The Philippine Pastel Artists, Incorporated (PPA Inc.) came into existence in 2015 through the efforts of pastel artists Julius Legaspi and Alvin Montano, both of whom attended the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, and renowned artist Fernando Sena. Legaspi’s long-held aspiration has been to form a pastel group. This dream came true when, after college, he reestablished contact with Montano who shared the same vision. 

Julius Legaspi, Binondo Manila, Philippines, 2023, pastel on paper 18 x 12 in
Julius Legaspi, “Binondo Manila, Philippines,” 2023, pastel on paper 18 x 12 in.
Born to a goldsmith in Meycauayan, Bulacan, a town known for its skilled artisans, Julius Legaspi studied at the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts. He founded the Philippine Pastel Artist, Inc. (PPA) in 2015, gathering and uniting Filipino pastel artists nationwide to showcase Filipino talents in the field of pastel art.

In August 2015, the group met for the first time at Harbour Square on Roxas Boulevard in Manila. It was a diverse mix of artist friends, art students, and a  mix of hobbyists and enthusiasts. This event culminated in the official formation of Philippine Pastel Artists, known as the Facebook group “Tara Mag Pastel Tayo” at the time. Since then, PPA has made substantial contributions to the art community as the Philippines’ only exclusive pastel group.

Fernando Sena, My Mother, 2012, pastel on paper, 16 x 12 in.
Fernando Sena, “My Mother,” 2012, pastel on paper, 16 x 12 in.
Fernando Sena is an eminent figure in the Philippine art scene, recognized for his six-decade-long journey in the realm of creativity. He has made an indelible mark on Filipino art through his dedication to preserving cultural heritage and his unique artistic style.

2. How many members are in the society and how spread out are they?

Members of Filipino descent living in the Philippines or abroad are welcome to join the PPA. PPA has over 140 regular and associate members from all over the Philippines, as well as a few from other countries. The majority of members live in Metro Manila.

Grandier Bella, Juvenile Playthings, 2023, pastel on sanded paper, 10 x 16 in
Grandier Bella, “Juvenile Playthings,” 2023, pastel on sanded paper, 10 x 16 in.
As a contemporary realist, Grandier Bella aims to convey a genuine and truthful portrayal of whatever subject he depicts. He is currently a faculty member at the Philippines College of Fine Arts, where he imparts foundational knowledge and skills to aspiring visual artists in the principles of the artistic process.

3. What is the mission of your society? What are some activities (workshops, exhibitions, etc)?

The Philippine Pastel Artists, Incorporated (PPA, Inc.) is a non-profit organization for pastel artists that is a recognized member society of the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS). PPA’s vision is to be a premier and globally recognized organization that promotes Filipino artists through pastel as a medium for artistic expression and to establish standards of excellence in pastel painting in the Philippines. 

Tessa Punzalan-Brodeth, Off To Dreamland, 2023, pastel on sanded paper, 24 x 34 in
Tessa Punzalan-Brodeth, “Off To Dreamland,” 2023, pastel on sanded paper, 24 x 34 in.
Tessa Punzalan-Brodeth has been dabbling in pastel art since 2018, after decades of caring for her family. She is an advertising graduate of the UP College of Fine Arts, drawn to old master paintings in the realism and impressionism traditions.

PPA holds monthly meetings that include on-the-spot sketching sessions, pastel workshops, plein-air sketching, outreach activities, juried exhibitions, and an annual national convention and competition. These activities are supplemented with the collaboration of local art suppliers and sponsors in promoting art merchandise and supplies and art-related services.

Romeo Cortez, Jr., Fish and Tomatoes (Series IX), 2020, pastel on board, 24 x 30 in
Romeo Cortez, Jr., “Fish and Tomatoes (Series IX),” 2020, pastel on board, 24 x 30 in.
Romeo Cortez Jr. is a self-taught artist hailing from the Philippines and currently resides in New York. He has gained recognition for his artistic endeavors in still life and portraiture.

The group recently concluded its 8th Philippine Pastel Convention. This two-day hybrid event included art talks and demonstrations by eight speakers, an on-the-spot competition, and the presentation of the winners of the 7th PPA National Pastel Competition.

Dennis Baquial, Tres Amigos, 2019, pastel on paper, 18 x 24 in
Dennis Baquial, “Tres Amigos,” 2019, pastel on paper, 18 x 24 in.
Dennis Baquial, affiliated with the Philippine Pastel Artists (PPA) and the Art Ventures and Advocacy Network (ARTVAN), works freelance as a 3D artist to prioritize his artistic pursuits. His work encompasses many subjects, including still life, landscapes, depictions of children and animals, portraits, and other subjects that pique his interest.

4. When did you join IAPS? How did that come about?

In 2018, the PPA became a member of IAPS. The group was aware of the IAPS since its inception, and after adjusting to its regular programmes decided to join the international organization to reach out further and keep up with current trends and happenings in the pastel world. 

PPA is about to enter its sixth year of participation in IAPS’s juried exhibitions. Several members were accepted into these shows, and at least one attended the IAPS 14th Biennial Convention in New Mexico in 2022. We look forward to continually engaging in future events of IAPS.

Roberto Martin Sing, Mestiza 1, 2022, pastel on sanded paper, 16 × 12 in
Roberto Martin Sing, “Mestiza 1,” 2022, pastel on sanded paper, 16 × 12 in. Roberto Martin Sing, is a social studies teacher by profession but a visual artist by passion. He works primarily in pastel, casein, acrylics, and oils, and his areas of expertise include live portraiture and painting en plein air.

5. Can you give us any information on the project for which you received the grant?

PPA’s mission is to advocate the use of pastel as a medium for visual artistic expression among Filipino artists. This year, PPA partnered with MPNAG’s (Neptali A. Gonzales Public High School) Special Arts Programme in Mandaluyong City, Manila, for a two-day workshop on 18 and 25th November 2023. This public high school has an exemplary visual arts programme, and PPA could introduce young, talented artists to the pastel medium.

Nell Belgado, Noel’s Jeepney, 2023, pastel on textured surface, 16 x 20 in
Nell Belgado, “Noel’s Jeepney,” 2023, pastel on textured surface, 16 x 20 in.
Influenced by the American tonalist style evident in her landscape, cityscapes, and seascape paintings, Nell’s work is distinctly impressionistic, evident in her varied strokes and layering technique in pastel. She loves working with soft pastels as a medium because it offers her a tactile experience when her hands work directly with pigments on paper.

PPA organized a two-session programme for 22 deserving student participants, introducing pastels as a medium for painting and sketching. The funds from the grant were used to pay the instructors and assistants, and for the pastel supplies for the students, as well as refreshments. Graduates were invited to keep pursuing their interest in the medium by engaging with PPA’s monthly online or face-to-face painting activities.

This programme was submitted to IAPS in response to a request for proposals. It is with great pleasure that PPA was one of three recipients of the grant as it will aid in the group’s mission to spread the wonders of the pastel medium and to identify deserving individuals who would benefit from mentorship in developing their artistic skills.

Maymay Camarines, Solitude, 2022, pastel on paper, 24 x 18 in
Maymay Camarines, “Solitude,” 2022, pastel on paper, 24 x 18 in.
Maymay Camarines is a self-taught artist specializing in conservative and vibrant Impressionism. He demonstrates a steadfast commitment to honing his artistic skills and attaining expertise in pastel art.


WOW!! How marvellous to hear about the society and learn about its origins. Isn’t it great to hear how the passion and dedication of three people started this group? I love that it aspires to be a global advocate for pastel art, leaving an enduring imprint on the Filipino art landscape.

And, as an extra special addition to this blog, I  asked Sarah, who lives in the Philippines, if she’d like to contribute some thoughts. Happily, she agreed! 


As a fellow Filipino, I am bursting with pride for the Philippine Pastel Artists, who have garnered well-deserved recognition as one of the recipients of the 2023 IAPS Global Society Grants. This prestigious acknowledgment from the International Association of Pastel Societies is a testament to their exceptional skill, creativity, and contributions to the art world. 

Among the 10 pastel paintings, three stood out for me not just because of their wonderful artistry, but also because of the nostalgic feeling they evoked in me. 

The first time I saw Grandier Bella’s painting, “Juvenile Playthings,” memories of my childhood came flooding back. I remember during my elementary school days, we loved to play jackstones during lunch break. My classmates and I would sit on the floor of our classroom and play jackstones until lunch break was over. We also enjoyed playing “tumbang preso” or “tumba lata” on the streets. This is where the worn slippers and old tin cans come in! The game involves throwing the slipper at the can, which one player – the tayà – attempts to guard. Such fun memories! 

The jeepney, as seen in Nell Belgado’s painting, is considered the “King of the Roads” in the Philippines. It is the most popular means of transportation for Filipinos. When I was little, we used to own a jeepney like the one in Nell’s painting. It has been in the family for many years and we used to take it on family trips or vacations. 

Then there’s the painting “Fish and Tomatoes (Series IX)” by Romeo Cortez, Jr. The fish soup or “tinola” in Filipino is a famous traditional dish. As a kid, I wasn’t really a fan of it. But when I got older, it became my comfort food especially when it’s cold outside or if I’m sick. 

The PPA’s achievement not only brings honour to the Philippines but also serves as an inspiration for aspiring artists worldwide, showcasing the vibrant artistic heritage of our beloved nation. 

Congratulations to the Philippine Pastel Artists for this remarkable achievement! 🎉👏🏼


Thanks so much Sarah for your rich addition to this post! 

Now I invite you, dear reader, to share your thoughts in the comments. Do you have a favourite pastel piece? 

Art transcends boundaries and your voice will add another layer to this art dialogue! Personally, I LOVED being reminded that soft pastels are used globally.

Until next time!

~ Gail

PS.  To find out how a pastel society can apply for a grant from IAPS, click HERE.

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6 thoughts on “Philippine Pastel Artists – Recipient Of An IAPS 2023 Global Society Grant”

      1. Well, I can absolutely see why Sarah is bursting with pride for her fellow Filipino People from the Pastel Society🤩. Their art is amazing and surprising and of such high quality as well as very diverse in subject matter. I am glad this blog came out or else I would never have seen any of the beautiful art from a part of the world that is far away from me. Luckily we have the internet today. Feels so good that pastel artists from all over the world can now be connected, like here on this wonderful How to Pastel site! I admire all 10 pieces that were shown here, all in their own right. Thank you Gail for introducing us to this world and thank you Sarah for explaining the special meaning some of them have for you. 🌍🫶 🎨 🤝🌏

        1. Ahhh Nicolette, thank you for sharing your delight in discovering these wonderful artists. As you say, how lucky we are to have the internet!!!

  1. They are all marvellous paintings, and well done to the society for supporting and encouraging such talented people. The piece that most resonates wih me is Romeo Cortez, Jr., “Fish and Tomatoes (Series IX),” . I have focused largely on animals thus far, but I am considering spending some time on still life this year. As Sarah identifies, food is always with us, and often comforts us, and yet it is often reduced to mere fuel in our frenetic world. I have a vision for the end of 2024 – our kitchen adorned with my paintings of our food. Go well everyone in the Phillipines and elsewhere.

    1. Thanks Rod, for sharing your fav painting and why. I’m happy to hear that Cortez’s work might encourage you to run with your idea of spending time with still life. And you are so right about food – comfort and fuel and the differences. Of course it can also give one an aesthetic pleasure which can be revealed through painting. I like this vision of yours! Can’t wait to see what the year brings for your kitchen (and us!).

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Gail Sibley

Artist. Blogger. Teacher.

My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

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