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.