About SPS

Susan Gore Gardner, Iain Harvie & Kris Dollimore of Del Amitri

2024 ‘All About Pastel’ Members Juried Exhibition, (Master)3rd Place


SPS is a community of artists who share a mission to promote the beauty of the pastel medium, provide education, offer exhibition opportunities for our members and elevate the pastel medium in the eyes of the art community at large.

We accomplish our purpose through:

  • Providing programs, presentations, demonstrations and workshops presented by recognized and credentialed artists teaching a diverse curriculum.
  • Sponsoring both open national juried exhibitions and member only exhibitions
  • Providing a Members Only Facebook group for members with a unique Paint N’ Grow program hosted by master level Pastelists
  • Sharing current society updates and member news on our  News page
  • Funding art scholarships to deserving students
  • Enjoying all of the benefits offered through our societal membership of the “International Association of Pastel Societies*

*IAPS was founded in 1994 as a non-profit organization representing pastel societies worldwide. As a member of SPS you are also a member of IAPS and can participate in their exhibitions and conventions. 

About Our Society

SPS is comprised of a diverse group of artists from throughout the US and beyond with artistic abilities ranging from beginner to award winning. We are an engaged society committed to creating an inclusive culture and maintaining a singular goal of helping our members thrive in their artistic journey. We share and support the desires of all members to develop their skills, learn new techniques and increase their love of painting in pastels.

History of SPS

Connie Lynn Reilly, President Emeritus and Signature Member of Excellence of Southeastern Pastel Society, founded the society in 1987. Connie had discovered a general lack of knowledge about the pastel medium when she began displaying her impressive artwork. Soon after she recognized  that there was a revival, a “renaissance” so to speak, among artists using the pastel medium as well as the existence of the “Pastel Society of America”. Connie then began to consider how to gather other pastel artists with a purpose of educating through public exhibitions, sharing ideas, techniques and materials. She put together a message for a local art organizations newsletter to see if there might be interest from other artists for such a pastel organization and soon found out that they were!

The first meeting was held in Tucker, GA in 1987 forming the Southeastern Pastel Society organization. Founding members included Connie Lynn Reilly as President, Martha Bator, 1st VP, and other officers Amy Dean, Patricia Zellman, Jeannie Brownlee Irving Lawhon, Mikki Dillon and Bill Greenwood. Connie continues to be an inspiration and influence on SPS.

The Southeastern Pastel Society’s first “pastel only” exhibition entitled, “Pastel Renaissance” was held at the Unitarian Universalists Church in Atlanta, GA on November 9, 1988.


Connie Reilly
Virginia Monroe
Sally Atkins
Gary Baughman
Toby Reid
Evelyn Breit
Lisa Gleim
Debra Nadelhoffer
Cindy Marble

Connie Reilly, Melody

About the Pastel Medium

Pastel is known for its brilliant colors and velvety texture. It is also one of the most beautiful and versatile mediums in the history of art and is considered a major art form along with oils, acrylics and watercolors. It was first created in the 15th century and is not “chalk,” rather it is very finely ground pigment formed with a very light binder into sticks, pencils, or loose in small pans. The pigments used in pastel are the same used in almost all other art mediums including watercolor, oil, and acrylic. Pastel is the most permanent of all media when applied correctly and properly framed. The paintings don’t crack or fade like other mediums. Pastel paintings created in the 1400s are as vibrant and fresh today as when they were painted 600 years ago.

Pastels were initially used for informal sketches. However, Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757), a Venetian self-taught artist, was the first artist who used pastels for serious portraiture. Other famous artists who painted pastels include Leonardo da Vinci, Mary Cassatt, Degas, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Whistler, Matisse, and Lichtenstein.


(See The Touch of Color; Pastels at the National Gallery of Art for more information about the history of pastels PDF)