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Buford artist wins top prize at Carrollton exhibition

Special Photo Connie Lynn Reilly of Buford won the Best of Show at the Southeastern Pastel Society's 2013 Juried Member's Exhibition in Carrollton with her painting "Draped in Light."

Special Photo Connie Lynn Reilly of Buford won the Best of Show at the Southeastern Pastel Society's 2013 Juried Member's Exhibition in Carrollton with her painting "Draped in Light."

BUFORD — In 1988, Connie Lynn Reilly of Buford founded the Southeastern Pastel Society. On May 16, she won the Best of Show at her organization’s 2013 Juried Member’s Exhibition held at the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center.

And the award was a complete surprise, according to the pastel artist.

“It’s really exciting it. I was not expecting it,” Reilly said with a laugh.

Reilly usually works on commissioned portraits and historic pieces throughout the year, but when she has time, she works on figurative paintings, such as the winning piece, “Draped in Light.”

“I have a million things in my head that I would love to paint,” she said. “I’ll get them all finished one day.”

When she’s not creating in her studio, the Buford artist teaches at Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross. During one of her classes, Reilly was demonstrating a technique on the canvas while painting a live model. She became inspired by the model and snapped a photo to later finish the piece.

“She was a great model. The light fell on her just right,” Reilly said. “I tried to make it dramatic as well. I may start something in class and then finish something at home, like I did with this piece.”

Her winning piece, “Draped in Light,” was selected as the winner by juried judge Elizabeth Mowry of Castle Rock, Colo., a Pastel Society of America Master Pastelist.

Since the start of SPS 25 years ago, Reilly is proud about its growth and expansion.

“It’s a great group of artist,” she said. “It has grown so much since I founded it all those years ago.”

SPS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting pastel as a medium in the Southeast. The society has grown to more than 200 members throughout the U.S. and other countries in the world.

The exhibition runs through June 22 with 97 pastel paintings selected out of 290 works from 110 artists in 11 states. Carrollton Cultural Arts Center is located on 251 Alabama St. in Carrollton.

For more information about Reilly and her work, visit www.conniereilly.com.

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