Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Paintings Accepted into the 7th Biennial National Exhibition!

Good news! Two of my paintings, "Italian Men" and "Livia" were accepted into the 7th Biennial National Exhibition being held at the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda, Florida February 8 through March 12, 2010. I always think the stats are interesting, and am happy when the exhibit organizers share them. Over 720 pieces were entered from 31 states and three countries. 138 were accepted. Each entrant could submit up to three pieces. I submitted two.

The juror who selected the accepted work, who I also believe will be the awarding juror (works will be judged on February 3 live) is Peter Trippi, president of Projects in 19th Century Art, Inc. and editor of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine. Prior to that, he spent 3 years as Director of New York's Dahesh Museum of Art. That's the institution that just republished the Charles Bargue book of plates that I received as a Christmas present. Cool.

I'm really proud of both of these paintings ... yea!

There's still time to sign up for my Portrait and Figure Painting class, Still Life painting class, and "Mastering the Business of Art" workshop (next Wednesday and Thursday, 5-8pm). Classes are held through the Great Falls School of Art at 1144 Walker Road, Suite D, Great Falls, VA. Get more info on classes and how to register on my web site:

"Italian Men", 24"h x 18"w, oil on panel, copyright Jill Banks 2008.
"Livia", 36"h x 30"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thinking About "Tranquility" and Planning The Year Ahead

Today I'm reviewing the materials for my "Mastering the Business of Art" workshop that I'll be teaching next week (Wednesday and Thursday, January 6&7, 5pm-8pm both nights) through the Great Falls School of Art. You can still register. Get more information about it and my Winter classes on my web site:, go to the Classes page.) Reviewing the materials has sent me off on all sorts of tangents ... good ones, but tangents nonetheless. One tangent it didn't take me on was painting (unfortunately) ... but taking time away from painting to take care of this "business stuff" is instrumental in keeping me painting and improving as an artist.

One of my goals for 2010 is to create paintings that are apt to win awards in competitive National shows. I've placed at a finalist in many National competitions (including Artist's Magazine's Annual Art Competition), been juried into these competitive exhibits regularly and did win the Casey Memorial Award at the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club's National Exhibition. I'm happy about all those achievements -- but I always work toward something better. I'm constantly assessing where I'm at today vis-a-vis the Best of Show winners and seeing how I can improve. I plan on taking one of those Best of Shows home. (More would be okay, too.) What I'm happiest about is that in this quest -- which is really all about becoming a better and better painter -- I know my work is getting better and better.

I love the works I have in progress and recently finished paintings. (I love older ones, too -- but see a positive progression made each year.) One of those apt-to-be award winners is "Tranquility", shown here. It is still a work in progress -- to be finished in the next week or so. This painting just glows. It's also a reminder for me about what I most want to paint in 2010. Portraits, figures, people ... painted from life ... of models I hire just for me or patient friends and family who have some time on their hands.

Now, I'm going back to work on my workshop.

"Tranquility" work in progress, 30"h x 24"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last Night's Drawings: Poinsettia and a Bargue Plate

One of my Christmas presents was a book "Drawing Course" by Charles Bargue (1826/7-1883) with the collaboration of Jean-Leon Gerome, a new printing sponsored by the Dahesh Museum of Art. The book consists of 197 lithographic plates that were copied or drawn on stone by Bargue. Robert Liberace, my teacher at the Art League, regularly recommended the book for drawing practice. When I took classes there, the book was out of print and incredibly expensive ... so it was exciting to have it available again... affordably.

Other presents for Christmas and my December birthday were also art-related. One was an easel -- to accommodate the portrait commission I'm working on. Another was a book by David Leffel "An Artist Teaches" which I'm currently reading and pondering. Even clothing gifts were geared to art -- so I look okay at art functions. It's a life obsessed.

My drawing of the hand is from Bargue's plate I, 16. I haven't done much reading yet ... but the plate made a ready model. Those are hard to come by around 11pm at night.

My second drawing was really my first for the evening. The white poinsettia was available to model at around 9:30pm. No complaints. Kept still.

Today I'm working on a portrait commission ... painting.

"Bargue's Plate I, 16, After Bargue", graphite and graphite wash, approximately 6"h x  4"w, Jill Banks 2009.

"White Poinsettia", sketch and wash graphite pencils with wash, approximtely 11"h x 8'w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Painting Lemons Today ... "Sunflowers, Lemons and the Blue Teakettle" Continues

Holiday celebrations continue ... but that didn't keep me from diving into paint today. I've worked on "Sunflowers, Lemons and the Blue Teakettle" for a few additional days since last peek.

A few ideas have been running through my head while I've been painting it. Such as, why haven't I been painting the snow that's been piled up outside? Instead, I enjoyed a few snow days -- a reprieve from any thoughts of mall-shopping to get large, focused blocks of time to paint on two ongoing projects -- "Sunflowers, Lemons and the Blue Teakettle" and a portrait commission.

My paintings have undergone a transformation lately. I see it in this, soon to be finished painting, and in "Tranquility" which I will also be finishing up shortly. There's a sense of calm, peacefulness, air about them. Funny how these canvases describe exactly my mindset while painting them. It affects the way I see what's right in front of me ... and all the choices that direct my brush.

Right in the midst of a bustling holiday season, I find some cherished quiet time. I hope you did, too.

Happy Holidays!


"Sunflowers, Lemons and the Blue Teakettle" work in progress, oil on linen, 30"h x 24"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sign Up For Winter 2010 Classes and Workshops

I keep getting these emails about great last-minute Christmas gift ideas. So, here's my idea for you and/or the artist in your life. Registration is going on now for Winter classes and workshop at the Great Falls School of Art -- where I teach. I'm offering three for this term. See my web site ( for more information on those classes, supply lists and a registration form. Class size is limited. Registrations are rolling in. Any questions? Email me at There are also other great workshops and classes being offered by other instructors. You can download the whole bulletin and registration form at the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts (GFFFTA) web site.

School Address: 1144 Walker Road, Suite D, Great Falls, VA 22066 (physical, not mailing address -- see below for registration mailing address.)

To register, complete the registration form (you can download all the course listings and registration form at or print the registration form on my site and mail with full payment to : Great Falls Foundation for the Art, Inc., c/o Terri Parent, 325 Sinegar Place, Great Falls, VA 22066. Questions? Contact school registrar Terri Parent, 703-433-5358 or


Portrait and Figure Painting in Oils – Jill Banks
This course covers the basic elements of painting the portrait and figure: composition, mood, gesture, form, structure and features. Emphasis is placed on creating sound and compelling paintings as well as achieving a likeness. Beginning students will work in grisaille – concentrating on accurate values and form. Intermediate and more advanced students will learn how to paint beautiful skin tones through color studies and to place the figure in space. For information on the instructor, see Jill’s blog at or Model fees are extra and are to be paid directly to the instructor the first day of class. Nude and clothed models. See my supply list. For real beginners (new to oil painting or with limited drawing experience), I suggest taking my still life painting class for a few sessions before taking this class.

Mondays, Jan. 11-Mar. 8, 10am-2pm  $400 plus model fee (model fee to be paid directly to the instructor)
Registration Form

Still Life Painting in Oils– Jill Banks
Still life provides a great tool to hone skills. Students of all levels welcome.  Beginners will learn the fundamentals including laying in lights/darks (grisaille), color, materials and form.  More advanced students will apply skills to increasingly complex subject matter, refine color and produce finished paintings, learn to see as artists, simplify forms into abstract shapes and how to construct compositions. Information on the instructor can be found at and on her blog at See my supply list.

Tuesdays, Jan. 12-Mar. 9, 11:00am-3:00pm
$400 plus materials fee (materials fee paid directly to instructor)
Registration Form

Mastering the Business of Art - Jill Banks

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 six 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 (for a $10 fee paid directly to me). Information on the instructor can be found at: and on her blog at This popular workshop is held once a year. Don’t miss it.

Wednesday and Thursday, January 6 and 7, 5pm-8pm
$95 per person + $10 booklet fee (booklet fee payable directly to instructor)
Registration Form

Shown above: "Livia", oil on linen, 36"h x 30"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Home Studio Open House ... So Terrific

About two weeks ago, I had this perhaps not novel, yet "bright" idea. Why not take advantage of still being in my beautiful home (that husband Randy built) ... that's on the market ... and host an open house for collectors and students to show my artwork in a home setting (where most of my artwork ends up)? Previously, whenever a collector's seen my work, it's been in the studio space I happily share with 15 other artists at the Artists' Atelier (1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA). Or they've seen it in group shows. Or maybe in solo shows but in settings that don't give them a feel for what it would be like to live with my art.

I've got a lot of art. I have a lot of great collectors and supporters. This seemed a prime opportunity to thank them, and use every wall in the house for a very special private solo show.

My invitation said that my house would be filled from top to bottom with my art and Christmas decorations to boot. That required quite a bit of imagination, maybe hallucination, at the time the invitations went out. My dad stopped in each of the last four or five days leading up to the event ... and truly questioned my sanity and progress. Husband Randy was toiling away for days framing ... something short of a gadzillion paintings. He was definitely grumpy. Yet, I watched painting after painting get transformed with new frames.

We took down all the other art throughout the house. This event was sort of "all about me." I hope that sounds okay. I did tell guests that this isn't how the house usually looks. I like sharing the walls with other artists' work. Just not for this party.

My mom and dad, Randy and I worked like crazy leading up to the first doorbell ringing at 3pm (the start of the Open House) through the 8pm end of the Open House. It was SO much fun! It was a great thank you for the students and collectors who have helped make this such a successful year for me. Nine of my pieces sold. Students signed up for classes on the spot. (See my web site, classes page if you're interested in signing up for January classes and workshops.) Guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. They saw a lot of the objects found in my paintings. Students saw where I collect all the objects they "get to" paint in my Still Life classes. The stuff I torture them with.

I had 126 original pieces of finished art on display... with almost all of it for sale. That quantity astonished me. That's a lot of pieces, especially considering I carefully edited what went on display. I had to be happy with each and every work. Included in the "exhibit" were two Best of Show winners, two Honorable Mention winners, a finalist in Artist's Magazine's annual competition, and works that had been juried into National competitions (Salmagundi Club's annual, American Artists Professional League's Grand National), etc. I definitely brought my A-game.

The house did look great. We were able to answer the 3pm doorbell. Just barely. My parents were absolutely unbelievable in every way imaginable ... helping decorate, loaning their elves for my chandeliers (see earlier post) for the evening, fixing food and drinks, socializing, welcoming ... everything! Thanks Mom and Dad!

I'll have to update my web site to reflect yesterday's sales but gone to new homes are "Family Ties" (tomatoes), "Peppermint Stick and Pencil", "Me O' My Donut", "Cock-a-Doodle", "Hershey's Kiss", "After Prud'hon", "Apple Day" and two giclees of my Inn at Little Washington paintings. Thank you collectors! Your support means the world to me.

I didn't take any photos during the party because, let's just say, I was distracted. So, these photos are of the day after. Not quite as party-like, but nice.

If you would like to be added to my list, should I decide to throw another party like this ... email me at If you're interested in being alerted to new posts on this blog, you can subscribe to the left.

Thank you to all!

"Family Ties", 10"h x 8"w, oil on linen (shown above) is one of the nine paintings that headed off to a new home. Copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle" Painting and the Holiday Show

 Ho! Ho! Ho!

A Quick Post ... before I pack up paintings/drawings et al for this weekend's Great Falls Studios Annual Holiday Sale being held at the Colvin Run Historic Schoolhouse, 10201 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls, VA 22066, 10am-5pm both Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13. I'm joining 19 other artists in this quaint, time-capsule-like space for what has become a true Great Falls VA tradition. Come visit. It's where I do the majority of my Christmas shopping. I have clients, too, that have bought paintings, their major gifts for close family members from me... at this show.

I'm making some good progress on my "Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle" painting. I have five paintings I'd like to finish, put final touches on before a major art event next week. I do realize that's totally unrealistic. Priorities, priorities.

I'm in the Christmas spirit ... probably because I'm planning on doing my shopping this weekend at the schoolhouse. It's low-key, low-stress, merry, fun.

"Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle" work in progress, 30"h x 24"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Elf Drawing: Christmas Spirit is in the Air

I just completed this drawing destined for the front of my parents' Christmas 2009 card. I've been in charge of their Christmas card cover since I was twelve. (That's quite awhile.) Do you think that this yearly ritual was part of a plot to steer me toward a career in fine arts? If so, I'm glad it worked. I like this life.

When I was first creating art for my mom and dad's card, the card would be readied for printing by the art director at the company my dad worked for. I forget what I drew for the first one ... but whatever it was, the art director placed it on top of a house (that I didn't draw) and added snowflakes (ditto). I was horrified. Each year from then on, I spent a lot of time worrying what special touches would be added to my artwork. I took ownership of what I did right from the get-go. I'm friendly, really nice actually, until you start messing with my art.

For this year's card, I drew one of the elves that my dad perched up on their dining room chandelier. My mom and dad's condo looks more like a winter wonderland than the North Pole in your wildest imagination. Every year, my dad constructs a whole village with a neighborhood of people of all ages playing in the snow beneath a beautifully decorated tree. Plus, there's a train. Of course.

Still, my favorite parts of this enchanted winter wonderland are the decorations on the dining room chandelier. I'm completely mesmerized by them. Maybe I think everyone should spend some time up on a chandelier. The height offers a fresh perspective. This elf appears to be giving a speech about how great it is up there.

The spirit of Christmas is in the air.

The drawing is done in graphite, red pastel and charcoal pencils on Bristol paper. See more of my drawings on my web site: in the gallery section and throughout this blog.

"The Elf and the Chandelier", graphite, red pastel and charcoal pencils, 8.5"h x 5.5"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Portrait Delivery and First Friday at the Artists' Atelier Tonight

I've fallen behind in blogging land ... but hopefully will catch up. Quick Note: First Friday at the Artists' Atelier, the studio I share with 15 other artists, is tonight, December 4, 7-9pm at 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA 22066. There's a new show of Small Works by Great Falls Studios artists hanging in the GFFFTA (Great Falls Foundation for the Arts) gallery.

Now, onto the real news. Last Sunday, I received a great email and pictures from one of my commission clients. They had commissioned me to paint a portrait of John's parents ... to be presented as a (surprise) gift to his mom when the family gathered over Thanksgiving. A beautiful gift, to be sure!

Portrait deliveries are special days. I love to watch/experience the reactions of the recipients. Since this one was being presented at a family gathering in Florida (I live in McLean, VA), I wasn't there to witness it. But, my kind client was sure to take some pictures to help me share the moment. She captured a pretty wonderful reaction and happy presenters.

And here's the note that I received along with the pics:
She LOVES it. And so does everybody else. Just beautiful likenesses, beautiful painting. "How does she do it!" You have a family of new fans.
Painting portraits is hard, but rewarding work. I love the process of getting to know the subjects -- sometimes in person, sometimes through the words and emotions of the person who is introducing me to my subjects. John's dad had passed away, and I've never met his mom, but got to know them both through pictures and stories -- as told by John.

So, happily, this portrait was another success story. Yea!!! I know it's touched many lives and for that I am grateful.

I'm working on another portrait commission in my home studio ... to keep it under wraps until its official delivery. This one's going to keep me very busy for quite awhile. It's exciting, though!

For more information on commissioning a portrait, take a look at my web site's commission page and gallery pages for more examples of my portrait work. Or, give me a call at 703.403.7435.

Photos, top to bottom:
"Simms Portrait", oil on linen, approx. 39"h x 30"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009; John's Mom seeing the portrait for the first time; and Jack and John setting up the portrait for the surprise.

Phone: 703.403.7435