Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sold! Sold! Sold! Sold! Sold!

Five of my paintings sold this week. That's pretty terrific in my book. Thank you, collectors!

Considering those sales and that the gallery has eight pieces that I had in my studio and home last week -- I've seriously reduced what's hanging on the walls around me. I better paint some more!!!

A friend of my husband and mine (the owner of dog "Max" whose portrait was a finalist in Artists' Magazine's Annual Art Competition) used to joke about my having an inventory reduction sale. With 13 fewer pieces surrounding me -- I feel like I must have had one.

I do have a few left.

"The Toast", 40"h x 30"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2007. Available.

Chasen Galleries

Today, I visited Chasen Galleries for the second time this week after I chose them -- and they chose me -- to represent them in their Richmond, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina galleries. What a great place this is! Andrew, Marc and Deborah -- the people that make the gallery tick -- clearly know and appreciate art.

They already have sold a painting of mine, "After the Party" -- a still life.

Chasen's web site has a great section on their artists. I'm not on there yet -- but imagine I will be soon.

Why did I choose this gallery to represent my work? I was on the Internet and came across the gallery. Their web site is terrific and exuded professionalism, a love of art, and an openness that was refreshing. See their page on artist submissions and you'll understand what I mean.

I thought the artwork was terrific, across the board, which rarely if ever happens. I also thought my artwork fit well with the mix represented. My visit there today reinforced that opinion.

Chasen Galleries also represents Elaine Elinsky and Trisha Adams. See their work on the Artists page of the galleries' site. Great company I keep!

Photos: Chasen Galleries in Richmond; "Food and Games," 16"h x 20"w, oil (contact the Richmond gallery for more info.)

Chasen Galleries of Fine Art - Richmond, Virginia
3554 West Cary Street
Richmond, Virginia 23221
800-524-2736 (US)
804-204-1048 (International)

Chasen Galleries of Fine Art - Charlotte, North Carolina
2850 Selwyn Avenue
Charlotte, North Carolina 28209
704-376-0066 phone
Gallery Director: Elaine DeBerry

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm in a Gallery!

"Home Again, Home Again" Isn't Home Any More

Those of you who have been following this blog and my career know that I've been planning to find and approach a gallery for representation of my work for awhile. It's actually a little ridiculous that I haven't done this long before now. Instead, I've been happily representing myself and enjoying talking to and cultivating clients directly. But ... the do-it-yourself approach will not help me achieve my loftier career goals... which I'm determined to meet.

So, on Tuesday I packed up husband Randy's van (my vehicle is a mess) with lots of paintings and headed off to Richmond to meet with a gallery owner I had contacted. He was interested in my restaurant paintings -- so I brought lots of those -- plus threw in some still lifes for good measure. My thought was that I would show him some of what I had and hopefully he'd want to try out a couple in the gallery... at some point.

Well, that's not the way it worked. I brought in one, and he loved it. Then, I brought in three more. Then three more. Then three more. I ended up with ten in the gallery and he wanted them all! I was flabberghasted.

I left with an empty van, a piece of paper listing my ten pieces, and a bad case of anxiety -- It felt just like dropping off my daughter at college the first year. What had I done?

It made matters worse that two of the paintings I meant to just show (not leave) were being carefully considered by a client for purchase and that I was planning to include my restaurant paintings in a show in Alexandria next week. Wow. Life was getting complicated.

I know that everything will work out okay. I'll figure out another group of paintings for the upcoming show. This gallery is where my work should be and they will represent it incredibly well.

More on the gallery, what pieces you'll find there, why I chose them ... to come.

"Home Again, Home Again", 30"h x 40"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Plein Air Night Painting

Today's been a crazy day. For now, I'll talk about this evening's adventures.

I just got back from painting in the Great Falls Village Centre (in Great Falls, VA) on a small patch of grass, looking at the lights hanging from the Deli Italiano awning. I've wanted to paint outdoors (plein air) at night (paint a nocturne) for some time now. I missed out on painting Easton at night during a recent workshop because I was too exhausted to hold a brush. But, I figured that I could round up some company to do this in Great Falls and find some night I wasn't too tired to try it. Fellow artist Mehrnaz Moussavi and I picked tonight.

This is my first attempt. Essentially, I was painting in the dark. The street lamp just doesn't provide much guidance. I've discovered that my aim isn't that great when I can't see -- and colors can be completely out of whack. But it's fun!!!

For now, this is a work in progress. I may try it again tomorrow night -- working on this same scene and see how it goes. What I'll change is to really increase the contrast and bring along a small brush to help render the lights.

This was a large canvas (16"h x 20"w) to attempt. This was just one of many brave moves I made today.

I'll talk about my a.m. adventures tomorrow.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Come to the Great Falls Farmers' Market Saturday

Saturday, August 23 -- that's tomorrow as I write this -- from 9am to 1pm, I'll be set up to sell paintings and drawings in my own booth at the Farmers' Market in the Great Falls Village Centre (Great Falls, VA 22066). That's on the corner of Walker Road and Georgetown Pike, across the street from the Safeway.

Husband, Randy, is framing away. I'm trying out different arrangements in the garage -- see pic -- and I hope to see you there! I'll even have my own produce section. In paint, that is.

This will be my second time at the Farmers' Market. The first time, I sold three paintings. I hope to top that.

Some of what you'll see there: a painting of L'Auberge Chez Francois, the huge still life "On the Chopping Block" that was in the Gallery 222 "Something Hot" show, "Home Again, Home Again" -- another huge still life, and other restaurant scenes that are soon to go into a solo show in Alexandria -- assuming you don't decide to take them home. There are scenes from around Great Falls including "Sidewalk Sale" and "Sisson Landscapes."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New in My Restaurant Series

As promised, here are two new pieces in my restaurant series that I've been working on. Both are getting finishing touches and I photographed them at just the wrong time -- when some of the paint is sopping wet and some of the painting is dry. So, these are ... and will be ... better looking than you can tell here.

"Night Lights", 20"h x 16"w, oil on linen.

"L'Auberge Chez Francois", 12"h x 9"w, oil on linen. "L'Auberge" depicts a scene in a favorite Great Falls restaurant -- a place husband Randy and I have celebrated plenty of anniversaries.

All images are protected by copyright. Jill Banks, 2008.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some Updates: Web Site, Fall 2008 Classes

To the right: "Alice with a Bad Case of Wanderlust," oil on linen, 50"h x 42"w. "Alice" won Best of Show at the Art League in 2005.

First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAM! Sam's my favorite son.

Second, my web site is a bit more up to date, as of today. Specifically, it points you back to here -- my blog for the most recent info. The Atelier address reflects my current studio address and you can see some of my restaurant paintings in the "Places" section of the Gallery pages.

Third, sign-ups for Fall classes at the Great Falls School of Art begin now. (Right now is good!) Check out my two classes, both being taught on Tuesdays. "Drawing, Simplified" -- a great class for beginners or intermediate students, is from 9:30am-12:30pm on Tuesdays beginning September 23. "Painting the Portrait in Oils" will be held from 1:30-4:30pm. Each class costs $280 for the eight-week session. My classes are limited to six students -- so sign up quickly and be prepared for plenty of one-on-one instruction. For the portrait class, I really can work with students of all levels of experience -- and have something to offer each -- from the beginner to the super advanced. I've been well-taught and I've spent a few gadzillion hours painting. It pays off!

Here's the Fall 2008 Bulletin -- really, really hot off the presses:

Great Falls School of Art

Come Create in Great Falls

Fall courses begin the week of September 22, and run for eight weeks. Two one-day workshops are offered in digital photography. Registration begins immediately.

Drawing, Simplified
Jill Banks
Proportions, line, gesture, form and mood can be expressed with the simplest of materials. In this course, students gain a solid foundation in drawing by learning how to see, breaking down any subject into darks and lights, and building the form with simple, abstract shapes and lines. Using still lifes, interior spaces and the figure as subjects, students discover how to capture entire scenes with confidence. Model fees are extra. Information on the instructor can be found at: and on her blog at (More advanced students can paint instead of drawing with charcoal, but the emphasis is on form and tone rather than color.)
$280 9:30am-12:30pm, Tuesdays, 8 weeks, September 23-November 11

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. Model fees are extra. Information on the instructor can be found at: and on her blog at
$280 1:30-4:30pm, Tuesdays, 8 weeks, September 23-November 11

The Eloquent Brush
Tracie Griffith Tso
Students will be taught fundamental spontaneous brushstrokes and will learn to use traditional materials – rice paper, ink stick and Asian-style brushes – to create bamboo, orchid, chrysanthemum, plum blossom and many others. Experience the artistry of the Far East and incorporate the traditions of ancient China into your repertoire on paper, pottery and much more. Information on the instructor can be found at:
$300 + $40 materials fee 10:00-11:30am, Thursdays, 8 weeks, September 25-November 13

Oil Painting from Photos You Love
Adrienne Kralick
Have fun creating beautiful oil paintings from photos that interest and excite you. On the first day, bring in a group of photos you would like to paint. Learn what does or does not make a great source for a painting. Each student will choose either their own or the instructor's photos to create one or two finished paintings during the eight-week session. Students will learn how to crop for the best composition and impact; to select an area of focus and a path for the eye to follow; what to add or omit from a photo reference; and how to choose and mix colors to match your source and create depth, light and shadow. All levels are welcome. Information on the instructor can be found at:
$240 9:30am-12:30pm, Fridays, 8 weeks, September 26-November 14
$240 1:00-4:00pm, Sundays, 8 weeks, Sept. 28-Nov. 23 (No class on October 19)

Painting Flowers & Landscapes in Oil
Yiyan Huff
Students will learn the skills of painting including the foundation sketch, color layering, and finishing details. Special emphasis is placed on the observation of colors, light, composition, and perspective to create a sound painting with realism and warmth. Information on the instructor can be found at
$240 1:00pm-3:00pm, Thursdays, 8 weeks, September 25-November 13

Jewelry-Making: Five Easy Pieces
Donna Barnako
An introductory course for beginners to explore some exciting facets of jewelry-making. Begin with simple earrings and bead stringing for necklaces. Advance to an amazing fringed bracelet; then learn basic wire working and coiling skills to make a bangle bracelet, clasp and all. Finally, students will be introduced to the world of metalworking: hammering and texturing brass and copper, cutting and fashioning it into a pendant or earrings and adding an antique finish. Information on the instructor can be found at:
$300 + $50 materials fee (tools available to use) 10:00am-1:00pm, Mondays, 8 weeks, September 22-November 18 (No class on October 13)

Intro to Digital Photography (Crash Course)
Heidi Mraz
This class demystifies the technology so you can start taking better pictures right away. Learn the basics of file formats, menu & scene settings, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, bracketing, composition and lighting. Find out how to transfer images to the computer and options to print and save your photos. Information on the instructor can be found at
$50 1:00-4:00pm, Saturday, September 27

Photoshop Elements – the Basics (Crash Course)
Heidi Mraz
Learn the basics of digital image editing including: managing and saving your photos, resizing and cropping, sharpening, color correction, exposure, retouching and using creative filters. Plus explore ways to output your photos and more.
$50 1:00-4:00pm, Saturday, October 25


Great Falls Foundation for the Arts, Inc. (GFFFTA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide quality art education for children and adults, exhibition venues for local and regional artists, and rental studio space to artists. Our goal is to establish a center for the arts in Great Falls and to have art as a thriving, accessible element of our community.

GFFFTA was founded by the artists of Great Falls Studios, an organization of over 75 artists who live or work in Great Falls, Virginia. Great Falls School of Art is a part of GFFFTA and was established in 2008. Great Falls School of Art intends to have classes for adults and children in fine and applied visual arts on an ongoing basis.

Registration Form

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


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 ______________________________________________


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. 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, 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
Tracie Griffith Tso 408-705-2652
Yiyan Huff 703-757-7695
Adrienne Kralick 703-716-4299
Heidi Mraz 703-759-4933

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Old Favorites

Maybe it's apropos on the day my son leaves home to return to college, that I dedicate today's blog to paintings of mine that are like old friends who moved away. (Or kids.) Here are three of my paintings that I really miss having close by.
All images are protected by copyright.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Art at the Mill Show Acceptances

The Art at the Mill Show in Millwood, Virginia is a regular fixture in the exhibit schedule for regional artists. Artists submit up to five pieces, and the jury decides whether the piece is accepted, rejected or placed on reserve. There are two shows a year, one in the Spring and the other in the Fall. These shows are a bit quirky (my opinion) with what I consider a really wide range in quality and prices of the work, but they are well attended and a lot of art is sold each show.

Yesterday, I heard word that of the five pieces that I submitted, three were accepted, one was placed on reserve and one was rejected. I'm making progress! That's my best "score" so far.

The Fall Art at the Mill show will take place at the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, VA on October 4-19, Sunday through Friday, 12-5 pm and Saturday, 10am-6pm. There is an admission fee.

Every time I enter a show, I literally torture myself making a decision on what to submit. I try to think about the venue, notice what sells and what has appeared there before, and consider the juror, if that's publicized. Then I try to pick what I think best suits that combination. I still win some and lose some, but my odds seem to be improving.

Above, I included one of my accepted entries. "Striped Skirt" was painted a week and a half ago, alla prima, when Ellie modeled for the portrait painting class I teach. To paint something alla prima means to paint it all at once -- in a single session without layering the paint. This painting is super loose -- a nice respite for me. 20"h x 16"w, oil on Senso linen canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

By the way, Richard Schmid, a favorite painter of mine, wrote a wonderful book titled "Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting." This is such a great book for artists of all levels! It's published in both hardback and softcover.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Super Model Sarah

My daughter, Sarah, modeled for my portrait painting class (that I teach through the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts) today. I had a chance to paint her in the morning class. What a great experience!

It was also fun to see each students' interpretation of my daughter. Everyone caught some aspect of who she is.

Close-up of sketch of Sarah. 20"h x 16"w, oil on linen (Senso canvas), copyright Jill Banks 2008.

More images from class: Mehrnaz Moussavi putting the final touches on her painting of Sarah (whew! she was painting at top speed!); Diane Falconer with her painting; Shanaz Asasi with hers.

I will be teaching again in the Fall, classes once a week for eight weeks. More details coming soon on my classes and others offered through the Great Falls School of Art. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching and witnessing the joy of discovery from a different perspective. Please email me ( if you would like to be added to my list of prospective students.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More in the Restaurant Series

The other day, I met two new acquaintances at the Starbuck's in Old Town Alexandria. They asked me about my art, generally what I do, and I answered that I created figurative scenes -- people in dining and street scenes, enjoying themselves. Well, that conversation was the stimulus for the last few days of painting and will continue on for awhile. What I realized was that since my "Place Settings" solo show at the Art League in January, the few restaurant-centric paintings I've created have sold and I really wanted to get back to that series.

So, at the moment there are two of those being created which you will probably see soon. A small one, just beginning, is set at L'Auberge Chez Francois and a second is a night outdoor dining scene from Florence, Italy. Stay tuned.

I'm currently producing (and framing) new work for three upcoming events: another stint at the Great Falls Farmer's Market on August 23, a show at a French restaurant in Alexandria in September, and the Studio Tour in October. Plus, I have a very special commission portrait I'm working on.

The painting pictured is "Friends in Florence" from my "Place Settings" series. 11"h x 14"w, oil on Raymar panel, copyright Jill Banks 2007.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Bellydancer Series

I'm not sure this really is a series, but I've had very good results with my two bellydancer paintings. Both sold -- one before it was finished and the other when the paint was still wet. The model for both is an expert dancer who sparkles inside and out.

For both paintings, I chose a small size (16" x 20" canvases) and concentrated on finishing the pieces fully. They were done from live sittings. I was quicker on the second painting (with the teal outfit), completing the work in seven sittings instead of the nine required for the earlier work.

After having posted so many quick studies here lately, I figured it would be good to show what I do with more time. It seems sequins can only be mastered in multiple sittings. Still, no matter how much time I ultimately end up spending on a piece, I am always off to a quick and powerful start. That first session establishes the "life" of the painting.

I love the idea of doing a dancing series and tackling my own "El Jaleo" -- like John Singer Sargent's masterpiece that hangs in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It's perfect.

Top: "The Bellydancer," 20"h x 16"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2006.
Bottom: "Bellydancer in Teal," 16"h x 20"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Alla Prima Painting of John Irvine

Today was a day I really was happy as a clam. I've been operating under a personal "cloud" for awhile now; yesterday it lifted; and today I painted and drew ... freely, happily, and well. This summer, I've been taking Rob Liberace's drawing and painting class at the Art League. It's actually interesting to be teaching class one day a week (Wednesdays) and a student another. I enjoy both roles.

I drew a black & white charcoal of John in the morning. This is done on Canson pastel paper using vine charcoal, some conte stick and black and white General's charcoal pencils.

The oil painting of John was done this afternoon. I'm working on Senso clear acrylic-primed linen canvases -- that I buy from Jerry's Artarama. Fellow artist and friend, Adrienne Kralick, was the first adopter of these. I try all sorts of materials -- every color of paint that catches my eye, and lots of different support materials. I love the Senso canvases. They're not perfectly stretched, but the linen has just the right tooth for painting from first to last stroke and I really like letting the unpainted linen show through.

This painting of John reminds me of two other favorite paintings I've done. One is "Robert" -- a painting that was done in the same period of time -- three hours max -- that benefits from the same fresh appeal and bravura of brushstrokes. You can't mess around when you aim to start and complete a painting this quickly. Thank goodness! Less opportunity to overwork or mess it up!

The other painting this reminds me of is another that I did of John. He's simply a great model. He's a favorite with artists throughout the Washington area, and he posed for the Portrait Society of America conference held in DC last year -- so many portrait artists know John's face.

See Tricia Ratliff's blog entry about painting John in Rick Weaver's portrait painting workshop.

"John in August", oil on linen, 20"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Italian Men" in the Art League International Landscape Show

"Italian Men" has a prime spot in the Art League gallery for August's Landscape Show. From my quick look as the team was hanging the show, it looks like a fantastic exhibit. Art buyers -- take a look! Walt Bartman, Director and Founder of the Yellow Barn in Glen Echo Park, MD, juried the show. Walt was part of the three juror team who selected me for one of the 10 solo show shots awarded in 2008 at the Art League. "Italian Men" was in my January "Place Settings" show -- and the painting has been featured in Elan Magazine, the Washington Post, Virginia Living Magazine, and many more. Since the painting wasn't part of the original grouping shown to the solo show jurors and Walt clearly liked my figurative work based on comments I received after the jurying process, I guessed that he would enjoy seeing this piece. Apparently, he did.

"Italian Men" is one of my all-time favorites. It definitely represents a "leap" for me in the handling of space and the figures... but it's also just a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable painting.

My web site's clearly out of date. I promise I'll fix it soon -- but you can see more of these restaurant-centered figurative paintings if you click on preview the show on my home page. Of course the show's over and many of the paintings are residing in new homes, but you'll get the idea of where my heart is in these images. Some, like "Italian Men" are available.

"Italian Men," oil on board, 24"h x 18"w, copyright Jill Banks 2007.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Grisaille Painting of Da Vinci's Nephew's Sculpture

"Marble Man" is basically a grisaille, a painting using just French Ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and titanium white. Typically a grisaille is a painting done in shades of grays. I use this three color combination to build a fairly warm gray. The more burnt sienna I use, the warmer the results. There aren't any super darks in the painting -- grisailles are usually used for underpaintings -- but I like the look especially for the application of depicting a marble sculpture.

The painting is based on a photo I took on an art historical trip to Florence, Italy in 2006. The statue, found in a niche in the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio, is of Sanson and the Philistine. This sculpture is by Leonardo Da Vinci's nephew, Pierino da Vinci. Now, I didn't know this until I took the painting into Rob Liberace's class -- figuring that Rob's encyclopedic (really!) knowledge of art would come to the rescue. It did.

"Marble Man," 12"h x 9"w, oil on Raymar panel, copyright Jill Banks 2008

Soon after this I'm back into color. I've been working on another sepia-toned watercolor wash today -- a scene of Venice for this week's entry to the Landscape show at the Art League. Plus, I've been to Kinko's to enlarge a black & white sketch for a commission I'm working on. I think all this monochromatic work stems from the dark and light exercises I've been asking my class to do. But now I'm ready for yellows, reds, blues and greens... an outburst of color.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Best Parents

My mom and dad, Shonnie and Ken Johnson, are my best and most enthusiastic supporters. They pop in at all my many, many art events; pass on news to everyone they know (lots of people); and just clearly show how proud they are of me, of what I've done and how I've gotten here on a daily basis. They've decorated art spaces, helped hang shows, booth sat, chauffered models to and from my class, picked up and delivered paintings to shows, carried around photos of my work, catered show openings, purchased my paintings, set up still lifes (my dad's special role), and on and on. They pass on all the positive messages they receive from people who admire my work. I have a team promoting what I do -- and my parents are the head cheerleaders. It feels really good.

There have been lots of hurdles, rejections, hard times, questioning moments, etc. on the road toward establishing myself as an artist. Having my parents' unwavering support has helped me put all those things in perspective and to celebrate each accomplishment as it's occurred.

Thanks Mom and Dad!!! I love you.

The image shown above is a red and white chalk drawing on treated paper that I did of my dad. I definitely need to paint the two of them together.

Sepia-Toned Watercolor Figure Painting

Yesterday morning, in Robert Liberace's figure drawing class, I had a chance to revisit one of my favorite media: watercolor wash, and rendered this piece. It's an unforgiving media, which is part of its charms for me. There's a great sense of emotion that it elicits. I used burnt sienna artists' watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper. This will be framed and in the Atelier soon.