Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pear Painting of the Day

I love painting pears ... with their sinuous form. Here's today's painting. I started it thinking I might do just a modified grisaille (monochromatic painting) to concentrate on form rather than color. I held to that approach (using just a combination of burnt sienna/french ultramarine blue/titanium white) for all of about 15 minutes. Then I started adding in colors to the pear only, some cadmiums -- yellows, green light, oranges. I guess I couldn't help myself. I also added in the produce section sticker -- something that used to be a trademark of my early still life paintings. So, no, I didn't forget to take it off.

This is painted alla prima -- or all at once -- wet into sopping wet.

"Pear", oil on Raymar panel, 8"h x 6"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Also ... start the New Year out right. We will be holding the Artists' Atelier, the studio I share with 13 other artists, open for First Friday, this Friday, January 2, 2009 from 7-9pm. Stop in to look at the art, and enjoy light refreshments and a glass of wine or sparkling water. The Artists' Atelier is located at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA 22066. We are also open for regular open hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, noon to 4pm -- except for Saturday, January 10. (The studio will be acting as host for a special workshop that weekend.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Chocolate Cupcake" Painting of the Day and More...

Today's been a busy day. I finished a portrait that's been a major project of Bob Borchers, my client, and mine ... and "unveiled" it this afternoon. I will need to talk more about this special portrait and show a photo later, someday soon. We'll be going over to FrameMasters (my favorite framer) to pick out a frame for it tomorrow. By the way, FrameMasters has a $25 off coupon for custom orders on minimum orders of $125 through January 31. See their web site:

Well, a little more now ... I have been working the past three weeks (while preparing for the Christmas holidays) to finalize the portrait painting. I strive (I mean, REALLY strive) to produce the best work I possibly can. This portrait has been by far the most challenging painting I've undertaken, and I'm relieved that it exceeds my sometimes ridiculous expectations.

So, as a treat ... I produced "Chocolate Cupcake" this afternoon ... something easy and fun. It's really important to me to keep changing the type of work (subject matter, size, complexity) to keep my enthusiasm (passion) for each project at a high level. That excitement shows.

See also "Cupcake", "Four Square" (painting of four donuts), and my "Me O My! Donut" for some more of my small food paintings a day ... or just keep looking at Older Posts. There are lots of them!

"Chocolate Cupcake", oil on stretched canvas, 5" x 5", copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Reminders: Register now for classes at Loudoun Academy of Art and the Great Falls School of Art. I'm teaching a workshop "Mastering the Business of Art" January 13 & 14, 6:30-9:30pm in Great Falls in addition to a portrait and still life class. See my post on the Great Falls School of Art winter classes and workshops.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Tea with Anne" Chosen as a Finalist in the Raymar Art Competition

"Tea with Anne" gets chosen for another honor. I entered this portrait in Raymar's art competition, a year-long competition in which 12 finalists are chosen each month. "Tea with Anne" was chosen by Gil Dellinger, as a November finalist. See the Raymar web site to see Gil Dellinger's comments and the other finalists. After January's competition, winners are chosen from the finalist paintings. This contest is sponsored by Raymar, the manufacturer of fine art painting panels, and the prizes are sizeable. What impresses me most is that the finalists are big names in art world competitions ... plus I generally admire the paintings chosen ... so it's nice company "Tea with Anne" is keeping.

I have been a Raymar finalist twice before ... with "Pre-Dinner Drinks" in December 2005 and "Chadwick's" in September 2006. While "Tea with Anne" and "Pre-Dinner Drinks" are sold, "Chadwick's" is available for sale through Chasen Galleries in Richmond, VA ... except it has been renamed as "After Hours." Please contact the gallery to purchase. (Tell them I sent you.)

"Tea with Anne" won an award at the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club in NYC (the exhibit was at the National Arts Club). The painting depicts Anne Heilman, a great lady, artist, and friend of my mom's. See my earlier posts about that honor listed below.

"New York, New York"
"Tea with Anne" Wins Award in New York Exhibit
Accepted into New York Art Exhibit

Top left: "Tea with Anne", oil, 24"h x 18"w, private collection; middle right" "Pre-Dinner Drinks," oil, 12" h x 9"w, private collection (this painting is of the parlor from the Inn at Little Washington); bottom: "After Hours" (previously titled "Chadwick's), 16"h x 20"w, available for purchase through Chasen Galleries. Paintings copyright Jill Banks. All rights reserved.

Happy Holidays to All!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peppermint Stick Painting of the Day

This quick alla prima painting is a tribute to the holiday ... and will become my Christmas card. Of course, I still need to print, address and mail them. No rush, right?

"Peppermint Stick and Pencil", oil on stretched canvas, 6"h x 4"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Great Falls Studios Holiday Celebration and the Case for Joining an Art Group

Last night, Randy and I went to the home of Laura Nichols, founder and president of Great Falls Studios (GFS), for a really amazing holiday party for members and spouses (or significant others). It was the anti-Office Party... and so much fun ... it was ridiculous.

Great Falls Studios is a group of 78 artists who work or reside in Great Falls, VA. It's with this group that I first "came out" as an artist ... started to exhibit and talk with art enthusiasts (and potential collectors) about what I do. Through GFS, I acquired an informed appreciation for a variety of art forms as I attended individual studio tours of members in which the artists talked about their inspiration and process. I gained 78+ friends. Sharing this strong a common interest is a great shortcut to real friendship. As a board member of GFS for the past three years, I learned a lot about building a successful arts organization, and in my capacity as co-chairman of the Shows & Exhibits Committee -- I learned all about putting on successful art exhibits and events. I retire from the board and as committee chair in January, but my commitment to this terrific organization will continue.

During the party, artist (and GFS member) GuruSangat Khalsa performed ... singing and dancing beautifully to "Amazing Grace", "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes", "Lean on Me," a Bob Dylan song, and tons of others. She had us singing along, dancing, tapping, humming, and playing the tambourine. All this in Laura's warm, ancient home ... with the fire crackling while enjoying the camraderie of super friends.

Last night was part of my life as an artist. Today I was painting a portrait commission I want to finish before the end of the year. Tomorrow, I'll be at the Atelier again for our Saturday Open Hours, noon-4pm. The Artists' Atelier is located at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA.

Since I can't show you my painting from today, here's a drawing you haven't seen yet that is available for sale at the Atelier. What's remarkable about this one is that here are three drawings in one done from three five minute warm-up poses. The odds of this working out as a decent composition are probably a gadzillion to one. A special piece, then. "Wild Man", ink wash and pen&ink, copyright Jill Banks 2007(?).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Art Show at the Historic Schoolhouse

I thought you might enjoy a peek inside this year's Great Falls Studios Holiday Show. The show takes place each year in the Colvin Run Historic Schoolhouse in Great Falls, VA. Some highlights of the show for me are visiting with fellow artists, and seeing people share their appreciation of art with loved ones by shopping together or for each other. Husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, whole families, and friends come together to really spend some time enjoying the experience of picking out the perfect gift. It's a joy, too, to know that my work is making some people extremely happy on Christmas Day and beyond!

I'm always glad to meet with you at my Great Falls or home studio for private presentations of my work. Please contact me at or (703) 403-7435 to discuss your interests. Or you can stop by during Open Studio hours. The studio I share with 13 other artists in Great Falls, The Artists' Atelier at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays from 12-4pm. Plus we are there on First Fridays, 7-9pm, each month.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Bellydancer III" and This Weekend's Show

I just finished "Bellydancer III" today -- wet paint warning. See previous posts for "Bellydancer I" and "Bellydancer II".

This Saturday and Sunday, December 13 & 14, from 10am-5pm, I'll be joining 19 other artists at the Great Falls Studios Annual Holiday Art Show at 10201 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls, VA.

I hope to see you this weekend. In addition to the L'Auberge painting (see earlier post), I'll be displaying some paintings from this Spring's Venice trip, drawings, still life paintings of the day, and more. (Or so I think. Space is limited in this show.)

L'Auberge Chez Francois Paintings

Yesterday, Randy and I went to L'Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, VA to celebrate my birthday. We had a great dinner as usual, finished with a chocolate souffle. I collected plenty of ideas for new restaurant paintings -- but thought I'd share two I've already painted of this spot. The first, "The Celebration", 30"h x 40"w, depicts friends and fellow artist (photographer) Walt Lawrence, his wife Maria and sister-in-law Bernie enjoying an anniversary and birthday celebration themselves. This painting is in Walt and Maria's collection (so not for sale), but it is a good example of the non-traditional portraits I'm doing. The second painting is another scene from L'Auberge. It will be included in my display this weekend at the Great Falls Studios Annual Holiday Art Show and Sale at 10201 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls, VA. The Show is on Saturday and Sunday, December 13 & 14, 10am-5pm both days.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Painting of "Mom" in the "Fresh Perspectives" Exhibit

The painting I did of my Mom while she posed for my portrait painting class at the Great Falls School of Art in the Fall is in the "Fresh Perspectives" Great Falls Studios Exhibit at the Great Falls Library (in Great Falls, VA). The painting has some admirers, as does the subject. It's probably difficult to separate the two reactions. It's hard not to like the painting when you love the person it depicts.

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy reading the information I put on the tag next to the painting. I curated the show and asked the participating artists to put work into the show that was new and exciting and to write about what made that particular piece special. So, following my own instructions, here's what I wrote:

Media: Oil
Artist: Jill Banks
Price: Priceless
Phone: (703) 403-7435
Blog: (this is my visual diary of my life as an artist)
This year, I started teaching through the Great Falls School of Art (part of the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts) and the Loudoun Academy of the Arts in Leesburg. For my Great Falls class, I hired my mom to sit for a couple of sessions. It was tough for me to watch others paint her – and not be able to paint myself. (I live to paint!) During one of her sittings, a couple of students couldn’t make it – so I “stole” a little time to paint “Mom.” What joy!
Other 2008 highlights: winning Best of Show at the Art League in November, Honorable Mention at the Art League in December, Casey Memorial Award in NYC national show in October, Strauss Fellowship grant from the Arts Council of Fairfax County and placing as a finalist in Artist’s Magazine’s Annual Art Competition.

Please go by the exhibit to see "Mom" and "Deli Italiano" in person ... as well as the works by other artist members of Great Falls Studios. The exhibit closes on December 31. Great Falls Library, Great Falls, VA. Closed Sundays.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Yesterday's Painting: "Almond Joy"

This leftover Halloween candy was residing in my purse ... waiting for a chance to become the subject for one of my small paintings. "Almond Joy", oil on stretched canvas, 5" x 5", copyright Jill Banks 2008.

I'm teaching still life classes at both the Great Falls School of Art and the Loudoun Academy of Art in Leesburg, VA in January 2009. I received Loudoun's Schedule of Classes and was thrilled to see "Sunday Morning" featured on the cover and course listing. Very cool!

I am also teaching a portrait painting class and a workshop "Mastering the Business of Art" through the Great Falls School of Art. Click on the Great Falls School of Art link above to find out more.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Great Falls Studios "Fresh Perspectives" Show

I'm thinking that this is the last show I'll be hanging for Great Falls Studios in my position as Exhibit Chair (actually co-Exhibit Chair with Walt Lawrence) -- so its being given a little more fanfare. Here is part of it in pictures. Please go visit it in person if you can -- that's much better! Sales are made by contacting the individual artists. Part of the proceeds are donated to Friends of the Great Falls Library. I always think the last show's the best. I think that about this one.

My entries are "Deli Italiano," a nocturne, and "Mom" -- a quick oil sketch I did of Mom when she sat for a session during the portrait class I teach through Great Falls Studios. More on those two in another post -- but see top photo, this post. For now, here are some photos taken of the show today.

The "Fresh Perspectives" show may be seen at the Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, VA 22066. (703) 757-8560. Open Monday to Thursday, 10am-9pm; Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday 10am-5pm. The exhibit ends December 31.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"The Writer" or "Erica II" Wins Honorable Mention at the Art League

I just got off the phone with Erica Fortwengler, the Communications Director and Solo Show Coordinator at the Art League -- and the subject of two, close to identical paintings I created. Erica sat for demos I gave two weekends in January at the Art League Solo Gallery where my "Place Settings" solo show was being exhibited. Anyway, the first painting went to Erica -- but I painted a second, twin painting from the first. The twin painting, "The Writer" was my submission for this month's all-media membership show at the Art League. Whew! It's hard to shorten this story.

So, Erica called me to tell me that WE were in the show. Plus, the painting won an honorable mention. Plus, during Erica's interview with the juror, the juror suddenly looked at Erica and the painting and said "that looks like you!" The juror for this month's show is Fritz Briggs, a teacher at the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore, MD.

Last month my "Orange Peeled" won Best of Show in the "Small Works" exhibit there. This month's Honorable Mention means I'll be going to the Awards Ceremony and Opening Reception a week from Thursday. See the Art League's web site for more info about this month's exhibit.

"The Writer", 24"h x 20"w, oil on Senso canvas, $2400, copyright Jill Banks 2008.
The Art League, 105 North Union Street, Alexandria, VA. Gallery: (703) 683-1780.

First Friday Open House at the Artists' Atelier

You're cordially invited this Friday, December 5, 2008, 7-9pm to attend our first "First Friday" Open House at the working studios and gallery space I share with 13 other artists. 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA 22066. Contact me at (703) 403-7435 or for more info. Very light refreshments will be served -- and this is a great time to stop by and see some art fresh off (and on) the easel.

See more Artists' Atelier artists' work on our sites:
Jill Banks: web site and blog
Jennifer Duncan
Elaine Elinsky
Frances Vecchi
Heidi Mraz
Adrienne Kralick
John Francis McCabe
Brenda Drake

Other artist members of the Atelier are:
Margaret Power, Diane Falconer, Mehrnaz Moussavi, Mary Orr, Mollie Vardell and Judith St. Ledger-Roty.

In case you can't make it to see us this Friday night, our new open hours are Wednesdays and Saturdays from noon-4pm. That doesn't mean we'll all be there then -- but some of us will be. I hope to see you soon!

Jill Banks

Monday, December 1, 2008

Jelly Donut, Anyone?

Today's donut is jelly-filled. This is a continuation of the transparent, glazed theme. I like how the light hits gooey things. Perhaps because of eating more lately (Thanksgiving and its aftermath), including sweets, my attention is turning to fruits, vegetables, and other things. I haven't painted them yet, but there is a granny smith apple in my purse. Hmmmm.

I've been thinking also about what appeals to me and other people about some of my recent, quick paintings. There's a freshness about them, an immediacy (like what you can achieve with drawings that show the artist's hand more intimately) and I think, most importantly at the moment, this artwork is like comfort food for the soul. With all that's uncertain in the world, an appreciation of the simpler things in life comes in handy.

"Jelly Donut," oil on stretched canvas, 5" x 5", copyright Jill Banks 2008.

The Coffee Cup Show

I dropped off my painting yesterday at the Conscious Bean, the coffee shop right near my studio and stopped off today to see the show hung. Jennifer Duncan, friend and fellow studiomate and artist, curated the show and Great Falls Studios artists certainly embraced the theme. Our instructions were to produce a piece incorporating a coffee cup sized at 12" x 12". I've shown you my entry: "Pumpkin Pie" and thought you'd enjoy a glimpse of some of the other entries. The exhibit will be up for December and January. The Conscious Bean, 10123 Colvin Run Rd.
Great Falls, VA 22066. (703) 757-2326. The bottom photo is of Meredith Ledford's whimsical take on the coffee mug. For me, the exhibit exemplifies how independently and creatively artists tackle a "problem." Imagination is a wonderful thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Painting Finished!

"Pumpkin Pie" is finished ... just in time, too. It will be hanging in a group show on Sunday at the Conscious Bean, a coffee shop in Great Falls, VA that's near the Artists' Atelier (my studio). Seems like the perfect kind of painting for this time of year. "Pumpkin Pie," oil on stretched canvas, 12" x 12", copyright Jill Banks 2008.

See more of my food (and other) paintings ... throughout my blog. See older posts as well!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thumbelina Drawing of the Day

I painted, too, today -- but not much. Here's a drawing I started last night and finished just a few minutes ago. The subject is a tiny doll now called "Thumbelina", graphite on more Italian paper from Zecchi's, around 4.5" x 6.5" inside mat, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Rose

Yesterday my back was killing me so I couldn't stand and paint as usual. But ... I could sit and draw. "A Rose" is done in graphite on beautiful Italian paper I bought from Zecchi's in Florence, Italy. Image size is about 5.5" x 5.5". Copyright Jill Banks 2008.

"Me O My! Donut": Latest Painting of the Day

More food paintings. I'm still on a diet. There's another painting, of four donuts including one of these strawberry sprinkled kinds in an earlier post. For this one, I stood it upright on a sculptor's stand that sits next to my easel. The "O" I kept staring at suggested its name: "Me O My!". 5" x 5", oil on stretched canvas.

These are great little paintings to group together -- and a nice comforting visual for difficult times.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Winter 2009 Art Classes and Workshops

Fall courses begin in January and run for nine weeks. Registration begins immediately.

(The Great Falls School of Art classes are being held in the Artists' Atelier, the working studios and gallery space I share with 13 other artists located at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA 22066. Classes are currently for teens and adults, with children's classes to be added once a different, adequate teaching space has been found. -Jill)

Still Life Painting in Oils
Jill Banks

Still life painting is the ultimate teacher – learn how to achieve glorious color, draw with paint concentrating on simplifying forms into abstract shapes, and how to construct compelling compositions. The instructor will set up multiple still lifes for each class and teach students how to design their own incorporating some of their favorite objects. This is a great class for artists of all levels – from beginners to advanced. Information on the instructor can be found at: and on her blog at Supply list will be posted.
$300 + $20 materials fee, Tuesdays, 9:30am-12:30pm, 9 weeks, Jan. 27-Mar. 24
Registration form.

Painting the Portrait in Oils
Jill Banks

This course covers the basic elements of painting the portrait: composition, mood, gesture, form, structure, and features. Emphasis is placed on creating sound and compelling paintings as well as achieving a likeness. Students will learn how to achieve beautiful skin tones through color studies and to place the figure in space. Continuing students will build on established skills. Model fees are extra. Information on the instructor can be found at: and on her blog at Supply list will be posted.
$300 + model fees (based on number of enrolled students), Tuesdays, 1:30-4:30pm, 9 weeks, Jan. 27-Mar. 24
Registration form.

Oil Painting from Photos You Love
Adrienne Kralick

Learn to compose and create beautiful oil paintings from photo references that interest and excite you. This lively class is tailored to help each student at their own level whether beginner or advanced, with an emphasis on the concepts and painting techniques that can be learned from great paintings throughout history. Given demonstrations and handouts are customized for the specific needs that arise during each session as the paintings progress. Information on the instructor can be found at:
$270 Fridays, 9:30am-12:30pm, 9 weeks, Jan. 23-Mar. 20
$270 Sundays, 1:00-4:00pm, 9 weeks, Jan. 25-Mar. 22
Registration form.

Introduction to Watercolor
Linda Jones

This course covers the basic techniques in watercolor: brushwork, washes, wet into wet, drybrush, color mixing and composition. Each class will include demonstration and students developing these techniques while working on specifically chosen subjects/themes from still life and photographs. A materials list will be provided before the start of the course.
$300 Mondays, 2:00pm-5:00pm, 9 weeks, January 19-March 16
Registration form.

Visual Thinking Through Media: Creating a Visual Journal
Michela Mansuino

From content to cover, this course is designed to inspire you to get serious about being creative. You will experiment with a variety of media in an 11 X 17 inch hard-bound sketchbook. Just as artists uniquely get some of their most significant ideas from working with materials, you will use these investigations to develop projects based on your personal interests and direction. The journal prompts are fused with the exploration of significant themes and contexts. They act as a springboard to help you to discover who you are and make a visual record or the process. In this studio-centered course, we will include art history, popular culture, language, science, music and other content areas. Visual journaling is a way of crafting elegant art problems for authentic learning. Visual journaling is a way of life. Hard-bound sketchbook is included. Supply list will be posted. Young teens, teens, adults.
$280 + $25 materials fee, 3:00-6:00pm, Wednesdays, 9 weeks, January 21-March 18
Registration form.


Mastering the Business of Art
Jill Banks

Tuesday & Wednesday, January 13 & 14, 6:30-9:30pm
Creating a successful art career requires more than just creating appealing art. This two-day workshop covers the fundamentals of planning, establishing and running a career as a professional artist. Topics include goal setting, studio setup, purchasing, pricing your work, exhibiting, selling, applying for grants, taxes, setting up merchant accounts, marketing, add-on products and branding, promotions, publicity, approaching galleries, establishing name recognition, handling commissions, inventory control and more. The instructor started taking classes in 2003 – and in a little over five years has successfully built a rewarding art career through sales, commissions, recognition, awards, a grant, gallery representation and teaching. The business of art is challenging and rewarding – and conquering it lets us do more of what we love to do! A workbook is included. Information on the instructor can be found at: and on her blog at
$95 + $10 workbook fee
Registration form.

Introduction To Jewelry-Making
Donna Barnako

Saturday, January 17, 1:00-4:00pm
A half-day workshop where you will learn a potpourri of basic skills to get you started making your own jewelry. In this class we will make several pairs of earrings and a necklace or bracelet. Techniques covered include making wrapped loops, string considerations, crimping and adding closures. Information on the instructor can be found at: Class targeted for adults but fine for teenager 14+. Geared for beginners with no prior experience. For information about the instructor: or
$50 + $15 materials fee (tools supplied by teacher)
Registration form.

Introduction to Jewelry Wireworking
Donna Barnako

Saturday, March 7, 1:00-4:00pm
A half-day workshop where participants will learn a variety of wireworking techniques useful in basic jewelry-making as well as in a completely wireworked piece. Students will make their own earwires and a bangle bracelet while learning to fashion a clasp and to coil wire as a decorative element. Class targeted for adults. Strictly for beginners. For information about the instructor: or
$50 + $15 materials/kit fee (tools supplied by teacher)
Registration form.

Photoshop Elements 6 – The Basics (Crash Course)
Heidi Mraz

Saturday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, February 7
In this crash course, students will learn the basics of this powerful image-editing software package including: how to navigate the workspace, organize, manage and save photos, resize and crop, sharpen, color correct, fix exposure, retouch and use creative filters. Plus students will explore ways to output their photos, create projects and more.
$50 + $10 workbook fee
Registration form.

Photoshop Elements 6 – Beyond The Basics (Crash Course)
Heidi Mraz

Saturday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, February 28
Stretch the boundaries of your creativity and get started on your way to mastering Photoshop Elements’ powerful image-editing tools. This course will cover key features including selections, adjustment layers, photo retouching, special effects, adding text, filters and more. Plus students will learn ways to share their images on the web and in a slide show. For the intermediate or those who have attended “The Basics” Crash Course.
$50 + $15 DVD fee
Registration form.

Photoshop Elements 6 – Advance Techniques (Crash Course)
Heidi Mraz

Saturday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, March 14
Learn how to take an image from the ordinary to the extraordinary and turn memories into masterpieces. This crash course covers the most powerful and flexible features of Photoshop Elements including layer adjustments and styles, camera raw, photomerge and other tips and tricks to make your photos shine. Students will also learn how to create a slide show and a web gallery. “The Basics” and “Beyond The Basics” are prerequisites to this course.
$50 + $15 DVD fee
Registration form.

Digital SLR Photography (Crash Course)
Heidi Mraz

Saturday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, January 31
This class demystifies the technology so you can start taking better pictures right away. Learn the basics of file formats, menu and scene settings, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, bracketing composition and lighting. Find out how to transfer images to the computer and manage them. Plus students will discover options to edit, save and print their photos. Students are encouraged to bring their digital SLR cameras to class.
$50 + $10 workbook fee
Registration form.

Photos That Click – Visual Techniques to Supercharge Your Creative Potential (Crash Course)
Heidi Mraz

Saturday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, March 21
Whether you are an amateur or pro, this class is designed to expand your vision, while providing you with lots of ideas and tips intended to strengthen your ability to capture and create images that are captivating, technically sound, and visually appealing. So if you are ready to supercharge your creative passion and potential, this is the class for you. Students are encouraged to bring their digital cameras to class.
$50 + $10 workbook fee
Registration form.

The Classic Figure: a Modern Approach
Alla Prima Figure Painting with Robert Liberace

Friday-Sunday, January 9, 10, 11, 2009
Held at the Great Falls Artists’ Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, Virginia (demo January 9th from 6:30-9:30pm, and classes January 10th and 11th from 10am-4pm)

Join Rob for an exciting workshop that will unite the old and the new. Using the modern method of alla prima and a rich array of contemporary colors, students will follow a step-by-step method that will allow them to compose a figure painting with the look and finish of classic Renaissance paintings. Though alla prima (the direct manner of finishing a painting while it is wet) is often considered an impressionistic approach, it is also ideal for careful and thorough modeling which is a hallmark of classical painting. This approach will allow students to efficiently complete a painting without the laborious and time consuming classic approach of glazed layers. Methods of drawing, paint manipulation and color arrangement will be included and a general analysis of the anatomy will be stressed. But first, don't miss out on the demo Friday evening. And be sure to arrive early for wine and cheese! Students will need to provide their own easels and taborets or tables for palettes and supplies.

IMPORTANT: Registration for the Robert Liberace workshop is different than for other Great Falls School of Art courses and workshops. All are welcome. Hurry, space is limited. For the Robert Liberace workshop only, please contact Mary Orr at or cell 703-298-1176. Or mail check to Mary Orr at 198 Falcon Ridge Road, Great Falls, VA 22066. For more information about the instructor: see
$250 + model fees (to be divided among participants)

Registration Form for Winter 2009 Art Classes and Workshops

Here's the registration form for the Winter 2009 classes and workshops offered through the Great Falls School of Art (part of the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts) -- where I'm teaching two regular classes plus a workshop. See my post for all the class offerings here and click here to get just this post to print.

To register for class*, please send this completed registration form with full payment to:
Great Falls Foundation for the Arts, Inc.
c/o Jill Baker, Education Registrar
200 Rivers Edge Drive
Great Falls, Virginia 22066
(703) 759-1640
Class size is limited ... sign up early.


Name _____________________________________________


City________________________________ State _________ Zip Code ___________

Day Phone ________________________

Evening Phone _______________________

Email (for class confirmation) ______________________________________________

In case of emergency, contact: __________________________

Phone _____________

I heard about the School from ______________________________________________

See complete course and workshop listings here.

Course Title ___________________________

Instructor _____________________________

Day/Time ______________________________

Cost __________

Course Title ___________________________

Instructor _____________________________

Day/Time ______________________________

Cost __________

Course Title ___________________________

Instructor _____________________________

Day/Time ______________________________

Cost __________

Enclose payment. (Make check or money order payable to: Great Falls Foundation for the Arts, Inc., no cash by mail, please). Course fees are refundable if cancellation is made by student in writing at least two weeks prior to first class session, if course is full, or if the course is cancelled by GFFFTA. Checks will be held until one week before the course begins or until the class reaches minimum enrollment. Course instructors will email confirmation of class registration to those registered, together with a list of any suggested supplies for the course not provided by instructor. Some courses have model fees or a materials fee, as noted above. Easels, where required (except for the Robert Liberace workshop), will be provided by GFFFTA for use on school premises, 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, Virginia.

Jill Banks 703-403-7435 and
Donna Barnako 703-759-3549
Linda Jones 703-442-9251
Adrienne Kralick 703-716-4299
Michela Mansuino 571-263-7696
Heidi Mraz 703-362-7848
Mary Orr (for the Robert Liberace workshop) 703-298-1176

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cherry Danish Painting

I've received and taken the advice that you should have a clear reason why you want to paint each painting. The reason I painted this one is that I've been intrigued with the idea of painting translucent goop--just exactly what attracted me to this cherry danish from Panera as a subject. I love the way the light reflects. Plus, it's red! A bonus, no doubt. This was fun. I was also using a new teeny brush for some of the details... something I rarely do.

"Cherry Danish", 5" x 5", oil on stretched canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Falls Foundation for the Arts Gala This Friday

About 60 pieces of artwork were received, hung and arranged in the Artists' Atelier -- where my studio is -- in anticipation of Great Falls Foundation for the Arts (GFFFTA) Gala being held this coming Friday, November 21, 7pm to 10pm. All the work was donated by regional and local artists and collectors to benefit the newly founded Great Falls School of Art.

As a teacher (and student) of the School, I can attest that we need a suitable space and equipment, supplies and materials to make the school work and really benefit the community. I donated the three pieces shown above.
"Horse and Carriage", 5.5"h x 8.5"w (I think), pen & ink and ink wash, graphite and sketch & wash pencils; "Full House" (painting of three lemons and two plums), 16"h x 20"w, oil on linen; "On the Chopping Block", 30" x 30", oil on linen. The pieces will be sold at a silent auction Friday night. I believe the starting bids for the three pieces are as follows, in order, $112.50, $600, and $2450 versus retail of $225, $1200 and $3500. Tickets for the gala are $75 per person and may possibly be purchased at the door (number of guests total is limited to 300)-- but notify GFFFTA that you plan to attend. See the GFFFTA web site for more information. The Artists' Atelier is located at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA 22066

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Pumpkin Pie" Preview -- Another Two-Day Painting of the Day

I'm not quite done ... highlights on the porcelain tend to work better when the paint has had a chance to set up ... but I decided to offer a sneak peek at today's painting. By the way, whenever you see a painting on my blog, unless it's a commission, it is probably available for sale. This one will be soon. 12" x 12", oil on stretched canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2008. Contact me:

I've been busy this weekend with some different activities. Saturday a.m. I attended a marketing seminar offered by the Arts Council of Fairfax County and learned about a great site, -- where I plan to post a bio and access regularly for all sorts of art-related info. In the afternoon, I attended Heidi Mraz's workshop on "PhotoShop Elements: Beyond the Basics". This is the third of Heidi's crash courses I attended and I learned a ridiculous amount. This info is going to help me so much in preparing my photos (for my blog and portfolio) and working with source photos for my paintings. It's incredible! Heidi again did an amazing job. I highly recommend attending her courses.

After that, I tried to paint -- working on my portrait commission -- but I wasn't in top form so I undid my errors and worked on a different painting a day of some candy bars. You will see that soon.

Tomorrow I'm helping to hang donated work in the Artists' Atelier (my shared studio at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA) for this coming Friday's gala for the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts to help fund an expansion of the Great Falls School of Art where I teach. Tickets are $75. Over 50 pieces of art are being donated. Starting bids are set at 50% (to 70%) of retail so this is an excellent chance to help a good cause and possibly get a bargain on some high quality art. I hope to see you there. See the GFFFTA site ( for more info.

Receiving Bob Hof Award at the Art League

I had the pleasure of going to last Thursday's evening reception and award ceremony at the Art League ... and Randy snapped this photo of me receiving my certificate for winning the Bob Hof Award, Best in Show for "Orange Peeled" in the "Small Works" show this month. Also see the Art League blog for more info about the show. See my earlier post to see the painting.
Hopefully, you'll return to my own blog regularly and check out older posts as well -- if you're a new visitor.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Hersheys Kiss and Opening Reception Tonight at the Art League

These should probably be two separate posts -- but... Tonight's the opening reception at the Art League for the "Small Works" show where my painting "Orange Peeled" won Best of Show, the Bob Hof Award. The reception's from 6:30 to 9:30 with the Award Ceremony starting around 7pm. The Art League is located at 105 N. Union Street, Alexandria, VA.

The "Small Works" show was juried by Dr. Susan Frank, assistant curator at the Phillips Collection. Here's an excerpt from the Jurors Dialogue written by Erica Fortwengler at the Art League:
"I was looking for something a little different – a fresh take on a traditional subject such as still life, figure, landscape. I have a particular fondness for still life. I am interested to see how an artist can take a traditional subject like still life and make it new and interesting."

The pieces Frank selected as award winners are reflective of the works seen throughout the show. Frank awarded "Orange Peeled," by Jill Banks best in show. "This is a fresh take on still life, a different perspective."

"Hershey's Kiss" is the latest painting a day. The reflections in the wrapper are tough! It's a slightly different size, 6"h x 4"w, oil on stretched canvas. Most of the paintings you see on this blog are for sale. For the little ones -- the paintings a day pieces, I'm still trying to figure out a price, but I'll entertain any offers. Pretend like this is Priceline. Email me at or call 703.403.7435. I'm thinking about getting set up on Ebay to try to make purchases easier. I do accept Mastercard and Visa payments. "Hershey's Kiss" copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cupcake Alla Prima Painting a Day

So, "Cupcake" is yesterday's painting a day. It's 5" x 5", oil on stretched canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2008 ... so I'm back to the mini paintings and note: single object only (unless individual sprinkles count). Soooo much faster and easier!

Funny thing about all these paintings of food lately is that I've been on the South Beach diet for the last three weeks. So I get to stare at these goodies and paint them ... but not eat them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Painting a Day Took Two

I've been dying to post this one. I painted "Sunday Morning" on Saturday -- all day until my arm felt like it was going to fall off. Then I put some finishing touches on it today.

This is too large a painting for me to accomplish in one session -- at least for this detailed a style. It breaks every rule ... multiple objects, size of canvas, degree of finish. But I loved doing it!

I was tackling this project for two reasons ... my painting a day schedule plus my artist colleagues and I are putting on an exhibit of artwork featuring coffee cups (or teacups) to be displayed at the Conscious Bean in December. The Conscious Bean is a coffee shop across the street from my studio in Great Falls, VA. The Conscious Bean is located at: 10123 Colvin Run Rd
Great Falls, VA 22066. Phone: 571-237-3886

"Sunday Morning", 12" x 12", oil on canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2008. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Today's Donuts: A Painting a Day Continues

I bought six donuts today at Dunkin' Donuts... all different and chosen for their beauty, not to eat. So, I have some subjects for the next few days. Today's discovery? Sprinkled donuts take longer to paint than plain ones and powdered sugar ones make pretty interesting subjects. "Four Square", oil on linen, 5" x 5", copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alla Prima Painting a Day

So, after having just won the "Best of Show" for a small works -- I started painting even smaller. These two paintings -- the "Donut" from Tuesday and the "French Bread" done today are both 5" x 5" on gallery wrapped canvases. I really want to get into creating one each day -- or at least close. I bought a bunch of canvases at Plaza this am -- so I'm ready to go!

These are ridiculously fun to do... and hopefully will be fun to collect. They are painted alla prima -- or all at once, wet-into-wet oils. I work at getting it right from first to last brushstroke.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Best of Show" - More Info

"Orange Peeled" won the Bob Hof Award for "Best of Show" in the "Small Works" Exhibit at the Art League (Alexandria, VA). That's number 1 out of 538 entries. The awards ceremony will be at the Art League on Thursday, November 13 around 7pm. The reception runs from 6:30 to 9:30pm.

Randy and I went back down to Alexandria today to take a photo of "Orange Peeled" and one of me. There will be a lettering added to the wall plus a tag with blue ribbon before the awards ceremony comes around. I'll show you that next week.

The Art League is located at 105 North Union Street, Alexandria, VA.

My name also appears in the December issue of Artist's Magazine -- as I was a finalist in their Annual Art Competition. Just a note: in 2005, I won my first Best of Show at the Art League and was a finalist in Artist's Magazine's Annual Art Competition for the first time. This year is my second time winning both of those honors.

My Mom's doing better -- out of the ICU and emailing me encouraging words. That's the best news.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Best of Show" at the Art League

Last night, Randy and I trekked down to Alexandria, VA to the Torpedo Factory to enter this month's "Small Works" and "Large Works" shows at the Art League. Regular readers know that I torture myself over what to enter and where my various pieces should be. This evening, after teaching my portrait painting class in Great Falls I called the Art League to see whether or not my pieces got in. Rose O'Donnell, the Gallery Director who I know well ... and love ... answered the phone. She told me in her most nonchalant voice that no, sorry, #76 didn't get in. Oh, and #77, my second entry in the "Small Works" show won Best of Show!!!! I couldn't believe it! Really.

The award winner is "Orange Peeled", oil on Raymar panel, 8" x 6", $450. Contact the Art League if you are interested in purchasing. The juror for the Small Works show was Dr. Susan Frank, Assistant Curator at the Phillips Collection. Nice!

I last won Best of Show at the Art League in 2005 with "Alice with a Bad Case of Wanderlust." The Art League, with its 1000+ artist members is very competitive with a high caliber of art work in each of its monthly shows. This is an exciting honor indeed!

On a personal note, my Mom was operated on today to remove a parathyroid gland at NIH. The operation went smoothly with the outcome as expected according to my Dad. Tonight she moved into the ICU because of an irregular heartbeat ... so all the people who love her -- which probably is the whole world, and if it isn't, it should be ... will be anxiously awaiting news that all is completely well. I LOVE YOU MOM.