A few months back, I received an email from IAPS announcing three recipients of 2023 IAPS Global Society grants. It was 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.
This selection was made even more impressive by the fact that my Virtual Assistant Sarah is located in the same country. We immediately contacted the group to learn more about them and asked if we could feature ten of their artists. This blog is the result.
Throughout this post, you’ll see the work of 10 members chosen by the group. We asked for different styles and subjects, and suggested that there be an equal number men and women.
Now let’s get on with the interview!
1. When and why was the group Philippine Pastel Artists founded?
The Philippine Pastel Artists, Incorporated, (PPA Inc.), was founded in 2015 by pastel artists Julius Legaspi, Alvin Montano, who both attended the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, as well as Fernando Sena, a renowned artist. Legaspi’s long-held aspiration has been to form a pastel group. This dream became a reality when, after college he reestablished contacts with Montano.
In August 2015, a group of friends met for the first-time at Harbour Square 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.
2. How many members and how widely distributed are they in the society?
PPA is open to all Filipinos living in the Philippines and abroad. PPA has 140 regular members and associates from the Philippines as well as some from other countries. The majority of the members live in Metro Manila.
3. What is your society’s mission? What are the activities (workshops or exhibitions)?
The Philippine Pastel Artists, Inc. (PPA, Inc.), is a non profit organization for pastel artists and a member society of the International Association of Pastel Societies. 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.
PPA holds monthly meetings, which include on-the spot sketching sessions, plein-air sketches, pastel workshops and outreach activities. There are also juried exhibitions and an annual convention and competition. Local art suppliers and sponsors are also involved in these activities to promote art supplies, art-related services and art merchandise.
The group recently concluded their 8th Philippine Pastel Convention. This two-day hybrid included art talks and demos by eight speakers as well as an on-the spot competition and the presentation of winners of the PPA National Pastel Competition.
4. When did you join IAPS? How did you become a member?
In 2018, the PPA joined IAPS. The group knew about the IAPS from its inception and decided to join it after adjusting to their regular programmes to reach further and stay up to date on current trends in the pastel industry.
PPA is about to enter its sixth year of participation in IAPS’s juried exhibitions. At least one member attended the IAPS 14th Biennial Convention, which will be held in New Mexico in 2020. We look forward to continuing our involvement in future IAPS events.
5. What information can you provide about the project for which the grant was awarded?
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 excellent visual arts program, and PPA can introduce young, talented artist to the pastel medium.
PPA organized a 2-session programme for 22 students who deserved it, introducing pastels to them as a medium for sketching and painting. The grant was used to pay for the instructors, assistants and pastel supplies for students. Refreshments were also provided. 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 as a response for a request of proposals to IAPS. 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.
WOW!! What a wonderful way to learn more about the society’s origins. Isn’t it great to hear how the passion and dedication of three people started this group? I love that the group aspires for it to be a global ambassador for pastel art and leave an enduring impression on the Filipino art scene.
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. She happily agreed!
As a Filipino, I am filled with pride at the recognition that the Philippine Pastel Artists have received as recipients of the IAPS Global Society grants for 2023. This prestigious award from the International Association of Pastel Societies shows their outstanding creativity and skill.
I was struck by three pastel paintings not only for their amazing artistry but also the nostalgic feeling that they evoked.
The first time I saw Grandier Bella’s painting, “Juvenile Playthings,” memories of my childhood came flooding back. I remember that during my elementary school years, we used to love playing jackstones at lunch time. We would play jackstones on the floor in our classroom until lunch was over. We also enjoyed playing “tumbang preso” or “tumba lata” on the streets. The worn slippers, old tin cans and a few old tins are perfect for this game! The game involves throwing the slipper at the can, which one player – the tayà – attempts to guard. Such great memories!
The jeepney, as seen in Nell Belgado’s painting, is considered the “King of the Roads” in the Philippines. It is the preferred mode of transport for Filipinos. When I was little, we used to own a jeepney like the one in Nell’s painting. It has been in our family for many, many years. We used to take it with us on family vacations or trips.
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 on this outstanding achievement! 🎉👏🏼
Sarah, I appreciate your rich contribution to this article.
Now, I invite you to share your thoughts, dear reader. The following are some of the ways to get in touch with us.Comment your thoughts. Do you own a favorite pastel?
Your voice will help to add another layer of depth to this art conversation! I personally LOVED learning that soft pastels can be used worldwide!
Until next time!
PS. Click to learn how a pastel society may apply for a grant through IAPS.You can find out more about this by clicking HERE.