Friday, January 30, 2009

"Coconut Cake" and My Snow Day

I purchased this coconut cake as part of a still life I planned to set up for the first day of my Great Falls still life class last Tuesday. Bad weather caused me to cancel class -- so I painted the "scene" instead. I'll have to figure out a new plan for next Tuesday's session.

I'm teaching still life painting through the Loudoun Academy of the Arts in Leesburg, VA on Thursday evenings and through the Great Falls School of Art (part of the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts) on Tuesday mornings. I did bring the cake to my Leesburg class -- and they did a great job!

By the way, this cake smelled fantastic -- making it tougher not to take a bite!

"Coconut Cake", oil on Senso linen, 20"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Gelato Shop" Painting: Fresh Off the Easel

I just finished "Gelato Shop" today -- so it's the latest off the easel. The "Limoni" painting led to this one. I'm focusing on painting places and times that made me intensely happy. Visiting this gelato shop was a favorite nightly ritual during a trip to Florence, Italy for my husband, Randy, and me, with friends Marie Drissel and John and Linda Wharton. So amazing. So much fun!

Painting it was pretty nice, too.

"Gelato Shop," oil on Senso linen, 20"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lemons, Limoni Painting Finished

So, here's the result of the rest of the evening's painting session. I photographed "Limoni" today and submitted my OPA National application. I'll keep my fingers crossed. It's hard to tell exactly what the images look like when a juror views them. At least I know I really like it!

"Limoni", 20"h x 16"w, oil on Senso canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lemons, Limoni

After teaching class at the Loudoun Academy of Art last Thursday night and demonstrating how to paint lemons, I decided to tackle some of my own. These depict the beautiful "Limoni" for sale in a market in Florence, Italy. The grocery stores and markets are amazing. It's a treat just to stand there and take in the vibrant colors.

This one's a work in progress that I will probably finish up tonight and photograph again tomorrow. It may be one of my entries into the Oil Painters of America National Exhibit -- which are due for submission online this coming Monday. We shall see.

"Limoni" work in progress, oil on Senso linen, 20"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Two Painting Starts Today: Open Grisaille

Instead of doing a painting a day today, I started two intended for my solo show at the Great Falls Library this coming Summer. I'm still working through my overall theme ... but I know that the majority of the show will be of interiors/exteriors of restaurants and bustling streets. The places and atmosphere and times that I love. I plan to continue starting canvas after canvas before continuing on. This has proven in the past to be a good learning process and great way to build a cohesive body of work. It's also easy to see early on which pieces will be the most successful.

These two were painted on different types of canvas supports. The interior scene that's just painted in reddish brown (no other colors) is painted on a Senso linen canvas. This has been my favorite surface for awhile because it has the perfect tooth (texture to catch the paint) from start to finish. The outdoor street scene (a New York City night scene) is painted on a double-primed linen-lined Raymar panel. Those are very tough to work on during the first session because they don't absorb the paint and it slides around. So, my only job with that one today was to put some paint on all over the surface so that the next layer has something to adhere to.

The reddish brown interior scene is done in an open grisaille (single color painting of just the darks in the scene) -- a technique I learned many years ago during a workshop at Studio Incamminati up in Philadelphia. It is a common way for me to start a painting -- no matter what the subject matter.

In starting, I am not concerned with developing a refined drawing, just getting down a roadmap to guide me when I proceed to full color.

Monday, January 19, 2009

An Old "New" Favorite: Alla Prima Portrait

Last Thursday night, after returning from teaching at the Loudoun Academy of Art, I decided to take another look at some of my not-so-recent paintings to see if any of them might be good to show the Chelsea 32 gallery folks the next day. (Sorry, long sentence.) I came across this one ... a head study I painted alla prima (all at once, or in a single sitting) of John Irvine, a favorite model. I loved the painting -- but the paint was dull and flat -- something that almost always happens as the paint dries. So, I varnished it, along with many other paintings, with Gamblin's Gamvar Picture Varnish, a favorite varnish of mine. Voila! This painting, with its great "bones" became a real jewel. Thus, an old "new" favorite. Or is it the other way around?

See more artwork inspired by John on these two older posts: post 1, post 2 (John's holding his cane).

They didn't choose this one -- so it's resting in the Atelier waiting for a new owner.

"Study of John," oil on Raymar panel, 14"h x 11"w, copyright Jill Banks 2007.

"Sweet Temptation" Cupcake Painting

"Sweet Temptation" is the result of natural selection at the Conscious Bean, the coffee shop across the street from my studio in Great Falls. This plate was sitting on the counter while I ordered a healthy salad. This arrangement wasn't orchestrated by me ... but instead by customers buying the cupcakes that are no longer on the plate. This, I guess, is a new form of collaborative art-making.

"Sweet Temptation", oil, 12"h x 12"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

I've been thinking about luck lately ... for lots of reasons, but for three at the moment.

Luck ... gave me this attractive still life to paint.

Luck was a subject in the "Mastering the Business of Art" workshop I gave last week. A pretty sound theory is that good fortune (or success) happens when luck meets preparation. Luck happens all the time. We just have to be ready for it.

Luck was a part of the formula leading Chelsea 32, the NYC gallery, to contact me and carry my work. They found me through the Great Falls Studios web site ... which links to mine, and through it to this blog, that shows work that fit their vision for their gallery. So, I had painted and posted the right work when the breeze blew by. See a little more about Chelsea 32 in my previous post.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Reception Today for "Coffee Cup" Exhibit

Join us for a coffee and cookies reception Sunday, January 18 from 3 to 4pm at the Conscious Bean Coffee House at 10123 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls, VA. See my earlier post about this art exhibit by Great Falls Studios artists.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Pink Cupcake" Painting

I had to complete this one to put my wall of food paintings back together. This one's the first of a few that focus on these ridiculously appealing cupcakes I bought over at the Conscious Bean, the coffee shop across the street from the Atelier. They let me borrow the plate so I could paint the "scene" as I first saw it. Essentially, these still lifes were "arranged" by the buying patterns of the customers that came before me. Pink cupcakes are the hot sellers.

"Pink Cupcake", oil, 5"x5", copyright Jill Banks 2009.

New Works in New York

Just a quick note ... Chelsea 32 Gallery, a new New York City gallery came to the Atelier yesterday to select work from me (Jill Banks), Elaine Elinsky, and Jennifer Duncan for their new exhibition. So, off went four oil paintings of donuts, one cupcake, "Boscs and Business Cards," a restaurant scene, and a watercolor wash/pen & ink Venice scene.

The gallery is located at 2 West 32nd Street, New York, NY. Contact the gallery at (646) 548-7991.

Shown: "Boscs and Business Cards," oil, 10"h x 8"w, copyright Jill Banks 2006 and "Canal," watercolor wash and pen & ink, 14"h x 11"w (inside mat), 20"h x 16"w (outside mat), copyright Jill Banks 2008.

The Artists' Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA -- will be open today (Saturday), noon to 4pm.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Two Portrait Deliveries

Yesterday, husband Randy and I delivered the framed portrait of Bob and Bridget Borchers to Bob. Randy took this photo of Bob and me with the painting in situ. I suspect that it's a sign of a well-satisfied client that he's smiling! Note: I am grinning, too. Read more about the portrait in an earlier post.

And, today, I'm waiting for another client to come to my house to reveal a portrait. This new painting will be a gift (to be given in a couple of months) ... so it's another case of not being able to see it for now. Randy set up the caped portrait and easel in our family room. I'm a bit uncomfortable with too much drama ... but it is a treasure underneath. Anticipation! This painting will inspire some more paintings sometime soon.

I have been busy getting ready for my "Mastering the Business of Art" workshop I'm giving Tuesday and Wednesday night. I've learned a great deal just preparing. Perhaps the most important thing I've learned is just how vital being organized is to accomplishing your goals. There is always so much I want to do ... and as my Dad says ... there's only one of me. That one of me has to be incredibly selective about how I spend my energy and resources so I can create the beautiful art currently stored in my mind.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

NYC Street Painting ... On the Easel

Here's a glimpse into my current work-in-progress. I'm just working on getting all the surfaces covered -- a step called "blocking in". This painting has some of the same abstract qualities that I enjoyed exploring in "Through the Window", shown below (that's available through Chasen Galleries in Richmond, VA and "Randy and Me," a portrait I did of my husband and I shown in an earlier post. So, I have lots more work to do on this ... but I'm enjoying it. All three paintings are 30"h x 40"w.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Mastering the Business of Art" Workshop

Today's the first day of my Still Life class at the Loudoun Academy of Arts and next Tuesday and Wednesday night I'll be holding my "Mastering the Business of Art" workshop in the Artists' Atelier at 1144 Walker Road, Suite #G in Great Falls, VA 22066. You can still sign up for the workshop -- but maybe contact me directly by email at or phone (703) 403-7435. Here's the info:
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.

Register for other classes at the Great Falls School for Art. Download the Winter 2009 class bulletin there ... or go to my earlier blog post for more info. There's room for one more person in my still life class. Hurry!

I'm working on a large street scene of NYC ... in between planning, organizing, and getting my ideas together for 2009! I hope to show it to you at least as a work in progress soon.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What's Cooking Today: Today's Painting

I took over the kitchen today ... instead of painting in the studio. The photo's not great because it was dark out when I finished my "breakfast" painting. This one's called "Egg Whites" because there were so many different tones of white in the scene. "Egg Whites", 11"h x 14"w, oil on Senso canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Portrait of Bob and Bridget Borchers

After many, many months ... my portrait commission of Bob and Bridget Borchers is now complete. It will be framed and I'll take it over to Bob next week.

I've included my photo of it here. Later, I'll have it photographed professionally ... which will be so much better than what I put up here.

A little history about this portrait. Bridget passed away in 2008, shortly before Bob contacted me to paint her portrait. The two of us, Bob and I, decided that I would paint a portrait of the two of them together ... working from photos of Bridget, and with me painting Bob from life. Bob gave me a lot of leeway as to pose, size, clothing, setting, actually everything. (I'm always amazed, and deeply appreciative, that clients trust me to do what I think is right. What a difference that makes!)

I took a lot of photos of Bob at one of our initial meetings -- actually not knowing what I'd do with them because I didn't know what the setting of the portrait would be or what photo of Bridget I would use as a primary source. Then, I started sketching -- a couple of very rough ideas -- and only one that I fleshed out. That turned out to be a detailed sketch, very similar to this final portrait. In sketching it, I figured out something that felt exactly right. And, Bob loved it.

One important point to make is that throughout the process I used live sittings (thanks, Bob!) and tons of totally different photos to make this happen. The ones I have of Bridget are from a different angle in different lighting. I also witnessed a transformation in Bob from our first meeting onward. As someone deeply in love with my spouse (Randy), it was tough to face the grief experienced by someone who recently lost their other half. This portrait was good therapy. The Bob Borchers depicted here is different than the Bob I met right after his loss. That's due to lots of reasons, but one of them was our project.

The yellow creature Bridget's holding, since I know someone will want to ask, is a Sneetch. The Sneetch is a character in a Dr. Seuss book (The Sneetches and Other Stories) -- a book that was an absolute favorite of mine and the Borchers. Nothing is without meaning here.

It was an honor to work on this project. Being able to create art that makes a difference in someone's life is a profound gift. I treasure it and work at it.

Happy New Year and Thank You for Making Art Part of Your Lives!
Jill Banks