Ten local artists are putting their skills to work raising money for orphaned children in Panama. The Pastel Society Alaska (PSAK) is conducting an online auction May 17-31 with a goal of raising $25,000 to care for these children with special needs.

Bidders can view the paintings at, and place bids at

The ten women artists worked for over a year creating from two to seven paintings each for the auction. 

The Heart’s Cry Children’s Ministries houses and feeds special needs children who have no parents. Founder Matt Hedspeth and his wife, Misty, founded the orphanage after a life-changing trip to Panama in 2008. The Hedspeths are friends with Ruthann Crosby, one of the founding members of the Alaska Pastel Society. Crosby knew the story of the orphanage and how hard the Covid-19 pandemic was affecting them. It didn’t take long for the idea of an online art auction to take form.

The subjects of the paintings vary: from portraits of indigenous people of Panama and Panamanian landscapes, to birds, butterflies and iguanas. Purchasers get a beautiful signed original and fill hungry stomachs at the same time.

Packs of five greeting cards will be offered for a $25 donation. The greeting cards feature five of the 40 donated paintings, in 5 x 7 inch form, ready to mail or frame. The five cards in each pack will be selected at random, grab-bag style.

The Alaska Pastel Society started the project last year after the group took a workshop with world-renowned Australian pastelist, Lyn Diefenbach. Inspired and motivated by the class, the group wanted to use their talents for more than just art sales; they wanted to help others with their art.

For the past year PSAK painters have been guided by continuing Zoom classes from Diefenbach. The group painted scenes from Panama based on pictures by photographer Kenneth R. Meyers ( Meyers has also visited the Heart’s Cry ministries orphanage and was excited to help raise funds for the children.

One PSAK member wanted to be involved because she was inspired by her parents and grandparents, who frequently took in displaced families and orphaned or fostered children. 

“I consider it an honor to be a part of a group of kind and talented artists who desire to improve their creative skills and use their art for a greater good that helps meet a need,” Carol Roper said, “I hope this auction is not just a one-time event but rather the Pastel Society Alaska can reach out and assist others within our own Alaskan communities, as well as those in other locations like Heart’s Cry Orphanage in Panama.”

The group plans to conduct a similar auction annually. “Our goal is to help an organization in need every year,” Crosby said. 

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