Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finalist in Artist's Magazine's 25th Annual Art Competition

I just found out that my painting "Max" is a finalist in Artist's Magazine's 25th Annual Art Competition in the Animal/Wildlife Category. The pooch's owners are Jim and Kathy Gudger -- longtime, great friends who let me "borrow" their poodle for this animal portrait. I was painting it for my entry in the Artists' Atelier show at Seneca Hill Animal Hospital and Spa in Great Falls, VA -- but it was bought off my easel within a day or two of completing it. It didn't last long -- thus I ended up painting my Murano cat for that show -- featured in an earlier post. That exhibit ends Monday, August 4.

This is my second time as a finalist. The first time around was in the portrait category for "Alan."

Portrait of Six Grandkids on a Beach

Creating this portrait commission was an amazingly wonderful experience. My client approached me while I was giving a portrait painting demo at the Art League in January. She was drawn to me because of an article in the Alexandria Gazette-Packet she had read about me and my "Place Settings" solo exhibit. So she came to talk to me armed with a photo of her six grandkids that had been taken by a photographer three years prior. A while later, I went to her house and discussed the project -- and it was clearly a match. She was fantastic to work with, I love the painting ... and she definitely does, too. The unveiling is a moment in time that I consider the most rewarding in my art pursuit. Being able to paint is an amazing gift and this portrait really touched my client's life.

Here's an excerpt from an email I received from Jill (we share a name, too) after she had gotten her painting back from the framer (FrameMasters in Chantilly -- they're great!):
"Jill, I picked up the painting yesterday and its proudly hanging in my LR....it is magnificent...the frame is most perfect....even the framer said he had never sold that frame but will push it now after seeing how it looks .......he was thrilled with it too....our son is here with his family....they love it of course...I keep the light turned on over it....and I nearly fall over stuff because when I enter the LR, I cannot take my eyes off it.......thank you a gillion times over for your abilities...and your kindness.....I want you and your husband to see it...you can come anytime but on down the line we want to have a party to show it off...love, Jill"

The subject line of the email read "My masterpiece"

Those are the kind of messages you want to get.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scenes of Great Falls, VA and Jurying a Show

"Sidewalk Sale in the Village Centre" is the painting I entered for the "Quintessentially Great Falls" show jurying that took place at my house yesterday. I was one of three jurors for the Great Falls Studios (www.greatfallsstudios.com) show that will take place August 1-30 at the Old Brogue Irish Pub in Great Falls, VA. But "Sidewalk Sale" won't be in the show! Of the 78 artists that make up Great Falls Studios, an alliance of artists in various media who live or work in Great Falls, VA, 22 artists submitted to this show that is capturing our town in art -- and as jurors, we had to whittle the show down to 10 to 15 pieces that told the story of Great Falls and held together as an exhibit. Walt Lawrence, Adrienne Kralick and I decided to pull our pieces from the pool of entries to ease the process. At the end, and against his will, we brought Walt's image of "L'Auberge Chez Francois" back into the show because this restaurant is a real fixture of Great Falls. Adrienne and I both painted scenes from the Village Centre which is already being well represented with Frances Vecchi's "Gazebo, Great Falls". Still, it was a case of juror/artist martyrdom and warrants the warning that you shouldn't try to jury a show or venue in which you'd like to exhibit. The show will be great, though, and I hope you visit it!

I encourage you, too, to consider purchasing "Sidewalk Sale." The painting is charming, if I do say so myself. It's the latest in my plein air painting series -- still a challenge for me to handle the sun, bugs, heat, etc. -- but I can see that I'm progressing. "Sidewalk Sale in the Village Centre," 10"h x 8"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2008. Contact me to purchase or see the painting in person.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Something Hot! Show at Gallery 222

My painting, "On the Chopping Block," was juried into the Something Hot! Annual Regional Juried exhibition at Gallery 222 in Leesburg, VA. The piece is 30" x 30" plus frame, oil on linen and is the latest of the large-scale still life series my dad sets up for me. Donald Depuydt juried the show. The exhibit runs from August 1 to August 23. There's an Opening Reception Friday, August 1, 6-9pm during Leesburg's First Friday Gallery Walk. For more information, contact Gallery 222 at (703) 777-5498 or visit www.loudounacademy.org or gallery222.com. Gallery 222, 222 South King Street, Leesburg, VA 20175.

This show turned out to be quite competitive with over 100 artists submitting over 180 pieces of art. Only 54 pieces were accepted. Other artists I know with work in the show include Tricia Ratliff, Brenda Gordon, Suzanne Twyford, and Cindy Grisdela.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Artists' Atelier Animal Art Exhibit at Seneca Hill Animal Hospital and Spa

Stop by the Seneca Hill Animal Hospital and Spa at Georgetown Pike (Route 193) and Seneca Road before the Artists' Atelier Exhibit comes down on August 4. There are some terrific pieces in the show -- by all the artists in the studio. Mine is of a cat I saw in Murano -- near Venice. So, the show has an international flavor!

Painting Great Falls, VA

Paint what you know. This afternoon, I got out my easel from a recent workshop and tackled plein air painting for an upcoming show entry that focuses on scenes from Great Falls. "Sisson Landscapes" depicts the beautiful landscaping store that's across the street from the Atelier. Those plants call to me each day I pass by. Maybe it's time to shop there. It's on the corner of Colvin Run Road and Walker Road in Great Falls, right near the Serbian Crown Restaurant. Oil on linen, 8"h x 10"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today's Portrait Class

During the morning class, I had a chance to paint for a little while once we moved onto the longer pose. Since I wasn't talking and painting at the same time, I suppose it's not a demo. Close-up of "Shalonda". Copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Accepted into New York Art Exhibit!

I just received word that a painting of mine was accepted into the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe's Art Club's 112th Annual Open Exhibition at the National Arts Club in NYC. The painting, "Tea with Anne," depicts Anne Heilman enjoying tea at my mom's house. The exhibition will be open to the public from September 23 to October 13, 2008 from 3pm to 6pm, Monday through Friday, 1pm-6pm Saturday and Sunday. Please call the National Arts Club at 212-475-3424 before visiting as the galleries do close for official functions. The National Arts Club's address is 15 Gramercy Park South, NY, NY 10003.

It's an honor to be included in this open (not limited to members) juried exhibition which includes works in a variety of media by women artists from all over the United States. The Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club is one of the oldest women's art clubs in the country and was founded in 1896 in honor of Miss Wolfe, a prominent New York philanthropist and art collector. Find out more about the club at www.clwac.org.

"Tea with Anne," oil on panel, 24"h x 18"w
Copyright Jill Banks 2007

Fresh Paint

This is last Friday's painting of two young girls reading. Copyright Jill Banks 2008. Oil on linen, 16"h x 20"w.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Venice Scene in the Art League Show

I've recently been working on a series of paintings inspired by a March visit to Venice. The latest completed, "Bridge in Venice," is hanging in the July show at the Art League in the Bin Gallery. I was in there last Friday, and the word is it's getting plenty of attention. Go in, check it out, and consider becoming its new owner. The canvas size is 11"h x 14"w. For more info, contact the gallery. Oil on linen. Copyright Jill Banks 2008.
For more information, contact the Art League gallery at (703) 683-1780. The Art League is located at 100 North Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Awarded Strauss Fellowship by the Arts Council of Fairfax County

Happily, I was recently notified that I was one of 12 award recipients of a Strauss Fellowship, a new individual artist grant program of the Arts Council of Fairfax County. According to the Arts Council's Web site (www.artsfairfax.org): "Strauss Fellowships support and encourage Fairfax County’s finest creative artists in all disciplines and recognize professional working artists’ achievements and their demonstrated history of accomplishments; they promote artists’ continued pursuit of their creative work." Thank you, Arts Council.

This is my first grant award and it marks another step in career achievement for me as an artist. Being a successful artist (the only kind of artist I care to be) requires constant work in honing one's artistic talents and building one's career. I work on both -- all the time -- and that's what this grant is designed to recognize. I found just going through the grant application process to be a great help. While the grant is not project or needs based, applicants had to address how they would use the funds and how it would help them as an artist. So what would I do with the money? What expenditure would make the greatest difference to me right now? After a ton of introspection, I figured out the answer.

I will apply for other grants and special programs for artists. My artwork enriches many lives -- something I've been told over and over and know in my soul -- and I will use any opportunity offered to make myself a better artist and reach more people. Going through the grant application process opened my eyes to new ways I can make that happen.

Goals and Achievements
  • Receiving a Strauss Fellowship was one step on the ladder of career success. So what other goals have I set and achieved? Lots.
  • Selling Work (I have achieved phenomenal success and it just keeps building. My collectors are knowledgeable, often artists themselves. Sales have come from my participation in regional events and shows, word of mouth, studio openings, and press coverage. I plan on approaching galleries in the coming months to gain representation and new audiences for my work.)
  • Getting Accepted into Juried Shows (Regional, National -- My work is regularly accepted by a variety of different jurors. )
  • Gaining Press Recognition (cover of elan Magazine, Washington Post's Top Picks in Sunday Source section, article in Alexandria Gazette Packet, Virginia Living Magazine's Around the State listing, blogs, Great Falls Connection, McLean Connection,...lots of glowing reviews; wonderful, well-appreciated coverage.)
  • Receiving Awards (two times finalist in Artist's Magazine's Annual Art Competition, finalist in national online art competition multiple times, Best of Show at the Art League, Honorable Mention at the Art League)
  • Solo Shows (2008: "Place Settings." Art League Solo Gallery -- one of only 10 artists awarded a solo show by the Art League out of its 1000+ members; 2005: "Feast for the Eyes," Great Falls Library)
  • Giving Demos (public painting demos as part of solo shows, to arts groups including Great Falls Studios and the Vienna Arts Society. Photo courtesy of Jim Miller. I'm painting Erica Fortwengler in the Art League Solo Gallery during my "Place Settings" show.)
  • Giving Talks (presented to Great Falls Newcomers Club to raise awareness of arts movement in Great Falls)
  • Teaching (I just started. See my Portrait Painting class post. I currently have ten students -- just right for now, in my opinion)
  • Taking an Active Role in the Local Arts Scene (I'm a board member of Great Falls Studios, a group of 75 artists and co-chair of the Shows & Exhibits Committee -- a big job that I feel I've held for a million years. Well, not quite. I'm a very active member of the Art League -- as an exhibitor, student, monitor for classes, solo exhibitor, supporter. I'll help out and encourage artists, arts organizations and art lovers wherever I encounter them.)

The point is that I want my work to be seen, appreciated and collected and that can't happen unless I nurture a healthy career. I do that through planning, goal setting, pushing myself constantly to reach new heights, networking, and hard work. I'm paying the same diligent attention to constantly improving my artwork -- so it always deserves the accolades and recognition. Being a successful artist requires lots of hard work and energy, plenty of support from enthusiastic patrons, and a willingness to put your work out there for review. So far, so good.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Teaching Portrait Painting Classes

This past Wednesday, July 16, marked the first day of classes for the newly-formed Great Falls School of Art (part of the Great Falls Foundation for the the Arts -- see www.gfffta.org for more info) and my portrait class was the very first class. I am teaching two classes -- both on Wednesdays and the Summer 2008 schedule includes six classes for each session. The photo shows three students from the morning class tackling quick light/dark painting exercises depicting the model.

Vicki Blum, a terrific fellow artist, is teaching Still Life Painting on Thursday evenings. I had the pleasure of witnessing the start of her class. She created a gorgeous setup just waiting to be painted.

If you are interested in receiving information about my classes, the Great Falls School of Art offerings or know someone interested in modeling, please email me at jillbanks1@aol.com.

New Studio

Visit the new Artists' Atelier at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, Virginia -- the new studio I share with 13 other artists. We held an Open House the beginning of June, and fellow Great Falls Studios artist, photographer Al Reitan, took this shot of me during one of the rare instances when I was in non-painting attire. The studio space makes a great mini-gallery.