Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!! and "Piazza Di Michelangelo" Painting in Progress

"Piazza Di Michelangelo" work in progress by Jill Banks
Here's to a wondrous, happy, healthy, prosperous New Year! Thank you for all your tremendous support in 2010. You're wonderful!

I  couldn't let the last day of 2010 go without a post. I still want to sum up the year but I don't have my facts straight yet. Too busy getting ready and planning for 2011.

Practicing for Tomorrow
Today I was practicing painting faces for tomorrow's launch of my 100 Faces in 100 Days Project on a handsome face I know exceedingly well. Husband Randy's. That was nice but it gave me a sneak peek into just what I'm getting myself into. Tomorrow you'll see my real Face #1 who comes to sit for me tomorrow morning. I'm asking for volunteers to come to sit, let me paint from life and just enjoy the experience of being painted. For my practice today, I painted for four hours with a few breaks. I could have used more time but I hope to get the process down a bit. I ran into some troubles. Parts I like, parts I don't.

Want to Sit for Me?
I really need volunteers for sitting next week (starting Monday) and beyond. Read my earlier posts and email me if you're interested. Thanks!

At least one result I can imagine from my project is gaining the ability to teach one heck of an "Alla Prima Portrait Workshop". Think of all the lessons I'll have in my back pocket by my 100th portrait in a row.

"Piazza Di Michelangelo" and That Italian Light
So, the "Piazza Di Michelangelo" painting in progress shown here isn't what I worked on today ... but it is what I worked on the last three days. I'm really pleased with the way it's turning out. It recalls all the beauty I remember from visiting Florence. The place is so full of life. People just cherish the everyday. Here we are standing near one of the city's Davids, looking out over the red roofs beyond with the Arno clearing a path to the sky. My focus will be on the young boy on the far right. You can't tell yet ... but that's what's in my head.

What I love about this one is the quality of light. It reminds me of my "Italian Men", "Boats in Burano" and "Pizza and Pesce." So what is that, Italian light? I'm using the lessons learned in a Kim English workshop in Easton Maryland. 

This painting might get a new name. Don't know. But I'm thinking about it.

"Piazza Di Michelangelo" work in progress, oil on linen, 30"h x 24"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010?

I think 2011 is going to be AMAZING for all of us. Good amazing.

Oh and for those of you who want to be inspired, listen to Rose Frantzen's awesome talk at the National Portrait Gallery (58 minutes long -- be prepared) about her portrait project along similar lines to my 100 Faces in 100 Days project. She's inspiring. She's walking on cloud nine and I know she has really touched at least the 180 lives (her subjects in Iowa).

Phone: 703.403.7435

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Web Site Has Just Been Updated and My 100 Faces in 100 Days Project

Part of my home page at
I just updated my web site. There's more to the home page (like info on my classes, events, current exhibits) than what's shown above and I have more links and testing to do ... but the good news is that the home page isn't filled with pieces that have just been purchased (so no longer available) ... and instead are filled with paintings that you can hang in your home. Lots of paintings that hadn't previously been posted there have now made my way there. I still have many more to add. That may just take time.

But for now, I'm off to paint. I've been working on a rather breathtaking scene from my first Florence trip looking down over the Arno from the Piazza di Michelangelo. It's great FUN!!! I bet you'll see it here soon!

Also, look at yesterday's post about my 2011 resolutions and my 100 Faces in 100 Days Project. I'm rethinking a bit of it after watching a video of Rose Frantzen's project. She's part of the inspiration here although I thought about doing something like this about a year ago in planning for 2010 -- before I'd heard about Rose's work. Still, she offers sage advice and since I'm approaching this second ... I'm excited to learn from her about a possible approach to the project. One change is to go with a standard 12"h x 12"w linen-lined panel. I just ordered 50 Raphael's oil-primed linen panels through Jerry's Artarama and they've shipped. (They have a super sale on them through December 31.) Why didn't I order 100 of them? Just seemed too scary and I didn't like the total $.

Watching Rose's video also clued me into a different time estimate for my sitters. She completed most of her portraits in 4-5 hours and didn't ask her sitters to stay still. She thought she'd speed up like I did ... but instead enjoyed talking with/getting to know each person during that time. She was just interested in them. That sounds just like what would happen to me. (I'm always interested in understanding the people who cross my path.) So, this project is a much greater commitment for me ... and a path I'm ridiculously excited about traveling.

Some volunteers are coming forward ... but that leaves PLENTY more slots to fill.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Monday, December 27, 2010

What I Will Do in 2011

With 2011 right around the corner, it's time to put onto paper (well, sort of) my commitments and bright ideas for the upcoming year.

I'm continuing my ongoing goal of becoming a better artist with all the subgoals that go along with that.

One top goal is to build a better me. Healthier. Thinner. Eating better. Exercising. Cooking more vs. eating out. Less television. More reading and conversations. Lots of laughter.

It will be interesting to see how this translates into my art. I see the canvas changing.

100 Faces in 100 Days Project
I'm launching a 100 Faces in 100 Days Project starting January 1. I want to capture the people that fill my life ... fellow artists, family members, friends, acquaintances, community, students, leaders, young and not-so-young, workers ... everyone. I'm interested in painting you and want you to come sit for me. My goal is to capture some sort of likeness in an hour's sitting though my guess is that it will require two  hours at the beginning of the project. All portraits will be painted in oils on the same size canvas 14"h x 11"w and I don't know what I'll do with them in the end ... but I assume I'll launch a show of some sort. (Figuring that out will be part of the project.) What I know I'll gain from this journey will be the enjoyment of spending time with 100 of you and a huge boost in my abilities as an artist. I'll be posting a Face a Day for the first 100 Days of the Year. So, you'll be able to witness my progress and see yourself or a friend on my blog.

So when would you like to sit??? Scheduling will be interesting but hopefully I'll get plenty of volunteers. Who's available January 1? Send me an email. Times are flexible and I'll work around your schedule.

More Plans:

Refueling and Rewarding. What I've found is that I need to plan inspiration time into my life first because it's FUN and second because it enriches my art. Call it reinvesting in R&D. My greatest inspiration comes from travel, visiting museums and exploring new people and places. 2010 was a great year and my reward is a trip to England this coming Spring with husband Randy combined with an art historical tour led by Rob Liberace offered through the Art League. Each trip I've taken results in a whole new me, lots of drawings and paintings, lots of new ideas. I can't wait to see what this one brings. We know that London is the main stop but where would you want me to go for an extra five days tacked onto the trip? The Cotswolds? Paris or the French countryside? Where would you go?

Working From Life. More, more, more. I'm never more excited about painting than when I'm right there in front of my subject. If the subject is constantly changing and moving? Even better. I will explore lots of unusual places to set up an easel all around town and practice so I can paint on site  during my trip to England and throughout the year. I plan to paint in restaurants, give plenty of public demos incorporating the everyday onto my canvases. I know this is going to be tough. Lots more scheduling, persuading to accomplish. I can't just show up in my studio to work. I've got to get out more. So tough, but fruitful. I'll have to figure out my Winter schedule. This is easier to do in Spring and Summer. Tougher in the cold and wind. By the way, I've been laying the groundwork for this in 2010. I've talked to restaurant owners. Painted from life in a restaurant without hiring models. Painted at the farmers' market in Great Falls. Drawn from life in Rome this past Spring. Drawn around town in Reston this Summer. So, I'm getting going.

Accomplishing a Specific Financial Revenue Goal. I've set it and communicated it to husband Randy. (He liked it.) I'm still figuring out how to get there. I know what I do and do not want to do this year. (Yes to writing/publishing a book; Yes to concentrating on a small number of promising events/shows; Yes to specific painting goals; Yes to increasing prices; Yes to continuing to teach; No to pursuing galleries or agents; No to teaching out-of-town workshops; No to less promising events/shows.) I've started with the goal vs. how to get there because it's motivational to me. I would feel so good about my financial contribution to my household if ... I expect to earn every penny through hard work, striving for improvement, creating outstanding art (and a book, and great teaching, etc.).

Family and Friend Time. My son Sam and his fiance Michelle are getting married in February and I will spend time celebrating before, during and after just enjoying this special time in their lives. (And mine as the mom.) I want to enjoy those cooking in and sharing a meal with daughter Sarah, husband Randy, Sam and Michelle, my Mom and Dad, Randy's dad and brother and sister-in-law, friends I don't see enough... Balanced by work but a whole life. We never know how long we have to enjoy each others' company but I know I'm blessed to have a wonderful, beautiful family. I will wrap my arms around them and love lots.

I think that's about it.

I wish you a healthy, happy, fulfilling New Year. Thank you for viewing my art and reading my usually long posts. YOU make me happy.

Above: Some of my Faces/Portraits from previous years. The top two are available for purchase. The second from top is a close-up of "Shalonda". The top painting is "Elizabeth".

An Addendum:
I'm trying to figure out how to phrase this ... but after a day of painting and thinking, I've been considering how my goals and actions would be different if someone told me I might have a year to live. (No one has but the concept is clarifying.) I'd spend it just like outlined above except I'd skip the revenue goal and not worry about what shows I participated in. Since no one has passed on such news, I'll proceed as planned knowing that the revenue goal and show goals are subordinate to the rest. They won't lead.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Pick-a-Peck Peppers" Painting in Progress

"Pick-a-Peck Peppers" work in progress, oil on linen, 24"h x 36"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010
I've been working on this for days. The photo isn't great ... and this (obviously) needs lots more work ... but, ta-da, here it is. A whole lot of peppers!!!!

This is another large-scale market painting. Most of my other market paintings went off to new homes, far and wide. (You can still view them on my web site, see the gallery page, market series gallery.)

I'll be updating my web site very soon ... so stay tuned. Classes start January 10&11. Check my classes page on my web site for info on my classes.

"Pick-a-Peck Peppers" work in progress, oil on linen, 24"h x 36"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making Some Deliveries Today: Ho, Ho, Ho

"Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle" in Their New Home
Randy and I went over to hang some paintings at one of my collector's home today ... something we've been doing quite a bit lately. We've got another delivery later on today.

This is a real treat for us and a treat for the purchaser as well. It feels wonderful to see my offspring (paintings) in their new home with smiles on faces all around. Today I got a kick out of rearranging a painting of mine ("Rooster Ruminations") to make room for its new friend ("Give Me Liberty"), another painting of mine. They just seem happy together. It gets rid of any separation anxiety of mine. I like their new home and family.

I love, too, that my collectors want my opinion and care to have me see the rest of their collection and my work's new home. Or, if it's a gift, they send me photos from the unveiling or excerpts of the recipient's responses. There's a special relationship between us and each purchase is like a celebration. A great match made.

For all the purchases made in the last month, I know there are so many more planned when finances allow. I love that, too. That someone is working toward the goal of owning a piece (or more) of mine. They are thinking of where they would want it to hang so it can brighten each day.

In rehanging "Rooster Ruminations" with "Give Me Liberty" and hanging "Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle," I thought about how I live with art in my own home to maximize the happy glances. "Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle" is hung to greet its new owner every day as she comes down the stairs in the morning. "Rooster Ruminations" and "Give Me Liberty" can't be missed either.

Today I heard a lot of neat and interesting comments. The painting's new owner told me that she didn't appreciate oil paintings before coming across mine. She'd always thought of them as being a bit stodgy. (I remember thinking the same thing, way back when, especially in the Still Life category. I definitely couldn't imagine painting still lifes in oil myself.) I converted her. She definitely selected  strikingly not-stodgy still lifes.

"Rooster Ruminations" and "Give Me Liberty": New Friends
I've been thinking, too, about why all these purchases are being made in this tough economy. In a way, I think the tough economy has made people reevaluate how/where/what they spend their money on and my art is coming up as a joyful, meaningful choice. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, original, made with care, chosen with just as much care by the purchaser. This isn't drive-through shopping. Lots of time is spent on deliberations and I can see just how "right" the match is for its new owner. They are thinking about the impact that art has on their lives every day versus purchasing something else where happiness is more fleeting or occasional.

I don't think I can ever say this often enough. I am so thankful, feel so fortunate, that I can create art that makes people happy to own, see and give. I feel lucky that people want to:
  • show me their collections, 
  • pick out a spot on their walls for a particular piece, 
  • let me know what painting they really want to have and where it would hang, 
  • choose a piece of my art for their Christmas present to each other, 
  • trade in a possible pair of earrings (two different purchasers this week -- one emerald, one diamond) for a lovely painting or two or three instead,
  • be a part of my life as an artist,
  • read my blog,
  • spend time on my web site or at my house or in my studio or at a show thinking about my art,
  • support me by letting me know how excited they are about what I'm doing. How cool is that?
This really is a wonderful, deeply fulfilling life.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Pick-a-Peck Peppers" Painting in Progress Today and More Art News

I can't show you a picture yet of "Pick-a-Peck Peppers"... it's just not ready for a first viewing. But, suffice it to say that a lot of colorful beautiful peppers are heading this way. It's a new 24"h x 36"w market scene ... to hang on the same hook of another market painting that's heading to a new home tomorrow.

What an incentive empty hooks can be.

"Give Me Liberty", oil on linen, 20"w x 20"h, copyright Jill Banks 2010. Private collection
There are two more sets of empty hooks today. Two paintings were just purchased: "Give Me Liberty" and "Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle." I bet there are a few sighs out there. These two have been the favorites of many and they have gone to a great home. Randy and I will be hanging them in their new abode tomorrow.

These are two more purchases as a result of my Home Studio Open House. Total purchases as of today from that event: 22. Total original art purchases in the last 30 days: 31. My husband Randy's best friend used to joke that I might need to hold an inventory reduction sale. The inventory's reduced.

"Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle", oil on linen, 30"h x 24"w, private collection.
So, farewell. I may have to go visit.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Cabs in New York City" Painting Today

"Cabs in New York City" oil on Raymar panel by Jill Banks
Sam and Michelle ... my son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law graduated from Virginia Tech yesterday. Yea!!!!! We took some extra cap and gown photos today on the snow-covered campus before heading back.

Part of the drive back I sketched. Sort of an ongoing, what does the road look like ahead and beside me. (Fortunately, I wasn't driving.) I decided I don't know what a cow looks like. Note: I'll have to work on that. But, I sketched a lot of cars from behind. Some trucks. A curving road. Trees and shrubs. Houses in the distance.

Came home and decided to paint this sketch. It reminded me of our drive home. Just urban vs. rural.

I've created many wet NYC street paintings ... but they were all purchased recently. Amazingly, my collectors purchased 29 of my paintings in the last month. Again, yikes. So. Here's a new one. Still on the easel.

"Cabs in New York City", oil on Raymar panel, 8"h x 10"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Make A Wish Cupcakes" Painting Today

A little bit of painting today and a very quick post. These were my birthday "wish" cupcakes.

I'm working to get my painting "muscles" back after lots of other art business stuff. Like deliveries to happy painting purchasers and the like. Ho, ho, ho.

Happy Holidays to All!

"Make a Wish Cupcakes", oil on Gessoboard, 6"h x 6"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

A P.S.: There's a nice article in this week's Great Falls Connection promoting this past weekend's Studio Tour. Even more remarkable is that there's a good photo of me -- Ms. Uncomfortable in Front of the Camera. Thanks, Al Reitan. You can download a PDF of the current publication here... for a day or two, I'd think. Click on Great Falls, the December 8 edition. I'm on page 5. (I know. Sounds like too much work.)

Plus, FineArtViews Daily Newsletter listed my first post about my successful Open House as one of today's Top Five Art Marketing and Inspiration Posts from around the net. I was trying to figure out why I was so popular today. Aha!!! Fine Art Views posts a daily art marketing newsletter that I subscribe to. It's a great source of ... inspiration! Nice to know someone there thinks I am, too!  I couldn't figure out how to link to the newsletter itself for the life of me. Ah, well.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Home Studio Open House ... A Better Look

If you read my previous blog about my Home Studio Open House ... you know I didn't take any photos during or before the big event. I just was overwhelmed by ... everything ... to think how great it would be to capture the real scene. But two days ago, after a delivery or two of my sold pieces, I did take some photos to just show you the house, all decked out in Jill Banks originals and special shots of my home studio. (It's wonderful!!!!)

To wrap up, I sold two paintings before the Open House (because of my invitation and having a house set up for an art party), 12 paintings and drawings during the event, and one on Wednesday. Fifteen!!!

Today (at this weekend's Holiday Show for Great Falls Studios), I sold two more pieces ... one to collectors who had been to my Open House. I invited other highly interested art shoppers to my house next week to see more of what I have available. (Although the supply is dwindling drastically.)

Now I've heard this over and over again. People loved this party. It was a real eye opener. Having (almost) all of my artwork in one place gave them a chance to really pinpoint what they loved about it and find their favorite works. Because pieces spanned the last seven years, they really got a chance to get to know me as an artist. Those who saw it in my home venue saw how it can fit in theirs. Plus, they understand how much better the same piece looks at home than in some of the many more sterile environments in which it's occasionally shown.

I'm still in shock that so many pieces are going off to new homes. If I thought about it in terms of hours, days, weeks, months, years of work, I'd probably faint. I will really need to think about what to do next. Think and paint.

See my earlier post for more info about the Open House. Contact me if you'd like to know more.


Phone: 703.403.7435

Birthday Celebrating: A Day at the National Gallery

This has been a whirlwind week. I can’t say “Phew” yet … as I have another day in the Great Falls Studios Holiday Show and Sale, tomorrow, Sunday (December 12) from 10am-5pm at the Village Green School in the Great Falls Village Centre.

Yesterday was my birthday and I knew I’d spend it getting ready and setting up for the Holiday show … so Randy and I celebrated it on Thursday, a day early.
Robert Henri's "Snow in New York"

My treat? To go to the National Gallery of Art, have the buffet lunch in the Garden Café, view the Chester Dale Collection Exhibit (outstanding!) and draw for a few hours until the museum closes.

I took photos of the buffet. They will most likely turn into painting ideas with a green quiche cut into slices and neat, sinewy piles of cured meats, and hand-written signs on sticks a la my market scenes. Right up at least one of my alleys.

I loved the Chester Dale Collection exhibit. It is astounding that a couple was able to collect the best of the best spanning artists from around the world through many artistic periods. What in the world did their house look like? Can you imagine living with Van Goghs, Toulouse-Lautrecs, Renoirs, Picassos, Corots, Cassatts, Manets, Monets, Bellows, Matisses, etc …

My favorites in the show are:
Mary Cassatt's "Girl Arranging Her Hair"
“Snow in New York,” an oil on canvas by Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929), painted in 1902
“Girl Arranging Her Hair,” an oil on canvas by Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926), painted in 1886
“Portrait of Sonia.” An oil on canvas by Henri Fantin-Latour (French,  1836-1904) painted in 1890
"A Shepherd Family Resting" by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

On my way to go draw, I tried to pass the Armand Hammer Collection room of drawings. Operative word: tried. I had to stop in. My inspiration there was a beautiful (red) chalk over graphite drawing by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (Italian, 1683-1754) called “A Shepherd Family Resting” drawn in the 1740s.

That determined what I eventually sat down to draw. I popped upstairs and sat down at the base of a fountain and started to draw “Cherubs Playing with a Swan” a lead with traces of gilding sculpture by Jean-Baptiste Tuby I (French, 1635-1700). My drawing material? Red chalk on treated paper. I hope to return to the same spot next week and pick off where I left off. Mine just might end up being one cherub … with the hint of another. Perhaps. I was rushing it a bit. Too little time. Next visit ... slow down. Really take it in.

Another post or two to follow … I’m catching up for lost time. Two more art sales today. I’ll tell you more plus more photos from my holiday open house to come.

My drawing start of "Cherubs Playing with a Swan" in red chalk
By the way, the National Gallery is beautiful this time of year, decked out with poinsettias and live trees with sparkling white lights. A true treat. Go if you can. 

Treat yourself to some inspiration. 

Phone: 703.403.7435

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Home Studio Open House ... Such a Success

I actually can't believe I'm writing this tonight. I am SOOOO tired, but excited, too. Tonight I held a Home Studio Open House ... in my new home and it was nothing short of wonderful. The house ... which we've been working on since moving into it in July looked beautiful, transformed by fresh eyes who hadn't seen the layers of dust, hours occupied by plumbers, painters, tilemen, floor refinishers, roofers that have kept husband Randy and I company for so many months. Hey, it does look good.

With an open house from 3-9pm today, at 2pm, Randy was calling me from the copy shop to tell me that he was on his third machine, having broken the other two; the house was still covered with layers of frames, papers, crud; I had meatballs to make; I hadn't changed; I hadn't yet put numbers on the 145 pieces of original art that we hung all around the house; and in short, things didn't look promising at all.

I dread looking at all the cabinets and closets tomorrow that were stuffed with ... the crud ...

I was so "under the gun," frantic, whatever you want to call it ... that I didn't take pictures pre-party or during the party. So, I'll have to paint a picture with words. And, you can look at photos, post-party. Randy and I hung (145) paintings and drawings in the last week all throughout the house. I invited collectors, students, models, new neighbors, and highly enthusiastic followers for a really big party ... come as they are ... stay as long as they like ... bring friends or family or anyone they thought would enjoy this. When guests walked in, they were greeted by my mom or dad, got a name tag and master price list numbered from 1 to 145 -- a guide to where they would find each piece. A self-guided or one of us (mom, dad, Randy or me) guided tour. It was fun just to see everyone enjoy wandering around, choosing their order, thinking about what they're seeing and enjoying the comfort of our home. Fun!

So many pieces sold today ... and all were left on the wall for future delivery. Randy and I are going to feel like Santa in the next few days. This is by far my most successful event ever. When you have a difficult time remembering what you sold, it's a success.  Momentous.

What sold today:
"Birds of a Feather"
"Five Umbrellas"
"The Writer"
"Fresh Produce"
"Bridge in Venice"
"Yellow and Blue"
"Central Park Study"
"Cellini's Perseus"
"Rialto Market"
"Rooster and Geraniums"
"Standing Pose"

Plus, pre-event sales (because of it)
"Red Velvet Cupcake"
"Green and Red Apple"

And in the previous two weeks:
"Nigerian Beauty"
"Ellen: Alla Prima Portrait"
"Figure Drawing Class"
"Arance, Oranges"
"Hunks of Watermelon"

That's actually a bit overwhelming. But, I'm thrilled. Each sale means I'm supposed to paint more. And, THAT makes me happy.

So, sorry for the "after" party photos.

I have a lot of web site updating to do. Sold. Sold. Sold.

Paint. Paint. Paint.

The real fun of today for me was seeing the fruits of my labor.  They are everywhere.

I just feel blessed.

Many thanks to all who came and my super helpers ... Mom, Dad, and Randy.

Better photos ... maybe ... tomorrow. But I doubt it.

P.S. Since putting up this post originally ... I've sold four more paintings and drawings ("Lilia," "Boats in Burano," "Beets and Gourd," and "Central Park Carousel" plus posted additional photos and info about the Open House. Get an update here. That brings the total sales for the past thirty days to 25 paintings and drawings.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thinking Christmas

You know how Nordstrom's chooses to celebrate one holiday at a time? So it is with me. I don't think Christmas until Thanksgiving has passed. Black Friday is too soon, too. The Christmas season ... for me ... started yesterday when the first few decorations were pulled out of storage and I sat down to draw something for my parents' Christmas card cover. I've been doing this since I was 11 or 12. Without giving you an exact count ... it's been a LOT of years. My mom writes a Christmas poem every year and they send cards to their umpteen wonderful friends all over the country. If you're one of them, consider this a preview of what's coming, once printed, in the mail.

"The Carolers" is a drawing of two Colonial Williamsburg caroler dolls that my parents put in our gift bags from our special family gathering there in honor of my mom and dad's (Shonnie and Ken Johnson) 60th anniversary. What an incredible weekend and memory.

Now I'm off to ... continue straightening up my studio and stuff ... and maybe hang a garland or two.

Close-up of "The Carolers", General's layout pencil, charcoal pencil and Faber-Castelli brush pen on Strathmore 100% cotton Charcoal paper, approximately 10"h x 8"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Oh, Come Ye Merry Gentlemen...

Phone: 703.403.7435 

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Pumpkin Pie" Painting: Have a Slice

Just because I've been busy doing other things, here's a painting that's sitting near my home studio ... that reminded me of the pie that's currently sitting in my refrigerator.

"Sunday Morning", 12"h x 12"w, oil, copyright Jill Banks 2008. Sold.
I painted this in 2008 ... right before I created "Sunday Morning" ... a sold piece that's still a favorite of mine. Both are the same size (12"h x 12"w) and done from a similar angle.

A couple of days ago (husband) Randy brought up a tray of breakfast that looked just ripe for this same treatment. Only trouble ... we ate it. Oh well. A future painting. (It'll look great.)

See more of my paintings of food on this blog ... and my web site: in the Still Life section of the gallery pages.

By the way, now's a great time to sign up for Winter classes that I teach in Still Life and Portrait Painting and Drawing through the Great Falls School of Art. Classes start January 10 & 11. Get more info on classes and how to register on my web site:, click on Classes.

"Pumpkin Pie", oil, 12"h x 12"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008. Available for purchase through the artist. (That's me.)

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"New York State of Mind" Painting Continued and More Donuts

"New York State of Mind" work in progress, 40"h x 30"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010
Pictures first. I'll type more later if I have a chance.

First up ... "New York State of Mind", another rainy day in New York City painting was up on my easel today after an extended break. I made some progress.

Next, a quick painting of some really vibrant donuts. I painted them with the lid closed ... thus the shadow at the top and part of the pink lid showing at the bottom.

"Half Dozen Donuts", oil on linen, 14"h x 11"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010    

 Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I was, personally turkey-challenged. But, I don't think that's what the holiday is all about, do you? We had a great visit with family from in and out of town and then went yesterday to a wonderful wedding shower for Michelle (our soon-to-be daughter-in-law) in Richmond ... held by her cousin and sister. 

Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Cupcake Land" Painting

My first diptych. I painted "Cupcake Land" with two 6"x12" canvases lined up side by side on my easel. I liked the idea of painting something short and wide ... perhaps because I see some walls around me that need something like that. Plus, one of my patrons indicated she'd like to see some more cupcakes from me. And, my dad was given a plateful of cupcakes as a special thank you treat this Sunday when we brunched at the Canteen (part of Mon Ami Gabi at the Reston Town Center, Reston, VA). Reason enough.

I've started a little different process. I am mixing up larger batches of the main colors I need to use for a particular painting. I paint a lot faster... but it's still a little foreign to me. Perhaps because I'm thinking less as I work. It would be useful for plein air painting when speed's required and thinking isn't. Funny how the process needs to change/adapt for the task at hand.

Today's an almost no art day. (We're hosting Thanksgiving dinner so I'm doing more of whatever you're doing.) But, yesterday, after painting "Cupcake Land," I returned to a painting I started many years ago -- a copy of a Sorolla (my favorite artist) painting. It was done as a homework assignment in Robert Liberace's Portrait and Figure Painting class ... and I remember Rob saying that I might have out-Sorolla'd Sorolla. My interpretation is that my colors were even more vibrant than Sorolla's. In returning to the painting, I realize just how much I've learned ... just how far I've come. I now understand values, colors, warms/cools, how to hold areas of the painting together, edges, brushstrokes... I'm pretty sure that when I first worked on this canvas, I thought I knew more. I bet looking back in a few years, I'll have the same sort of opinion of this week's attempt.

And, "Becky" -- my three-color chalk drawing that won Third Place at the 41st Annual Treasury of Art Show this weekend, sold.

"Cupcake Land" diptych, oil, each canvas 6"h x 12"w -- total 6"h x 24"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010. See more of my still life paintings of food on my web site gallery pages.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, November 20, 2010

William Woodward's Comments on "Becky" and Saying Goodbye to Your Art

I stopped by the 41st Annual Treasury of Art Juried Show & Sale (Sponsored by the Vienna Arts Society, held at the Vienna Community Center at 120 Cherry Street, Vienna, VA 22180) to see the show ... and my pieces hung ... and to pick up a hot-off-the-press catalog. In it are juror William Woodward's comments about "Becky" -- my three-color chalk drawing he awarded Third Place. So, no longer relying on memory, here's what William Woodward said:
"A magical, tender, and poetic drawing. "Becky" is in the great tradition of tonal drawing practiced by the Renaissance Masters. This work does not exist on the paper. It exists in the paper."
 Pretty wonderful, right?

There is something magical about drawings. It's such an intimate process. A slow unveiling of form and beauty. I remember, with each drawing, setting down each line, looking at each curve, looking more closely. A sense of discovery and wonder. The joy of just being there drawing.

So here's a few more I've done. Some are sold, some are hanging on my walls at home. Some are for sale. Just something different to enjoy today.

"Thumbelina", graphite

"John", black & white charcoal, sold

"Elf and the Chandelier", graphite and red pastel, sold

"Poinsettia", sketch & wash pencil and wash, sold

"After Bargue" Plate 1.16, graphite, sold

"The Nutcracker", graphite, collection of the artist's son (Sam Banks)

"After Caravaggio", sketch & wash pencil and wash, sold
(Husband) Randy is always telling me I should draw more. (Versus paint more.) I want to, too. Every day it's a choice ... where to go, what to paint, whether to paint or draw. It seems impossible to do both. Perhaps I need a different routine to let both into my life, on a regular basis.

Last night, at Art Night Out, I said goodbye to three of my four pieces of art. I have some serious separation anxiety. I will miss "Figure Drawing Class," "Ellen: Alla Prima Portrait" and greatly miss "Nigerian Beauty."  What was I thinking? I love her.  Most of the time, when I sell a piece, I'm happy about it going to a new home and making someone else happy. It's a chance for them and all the people they love to enjoy something that I've created. That's a good feeling.

But sometimes, I'm just deeply attached to what I've done and need it to keep me company. "Nigerian Beauty" is one of those. I will remember this regret ... and only let go of other pieces ... those I'm deeply attached to ... when and if I'm really ready. My lesson for yesterday.

Actually, as I just added all the captions to all the drawings up above ... I realize that there's a whole lot of my art ... what I've created hanging on other people's walls. (Except for those that Nancy owns ... that are still leaning on walls because she's afraid to stick a nail up.) More often, when I talk to people, they tell me that they own one or more of my pieces. It's funny to not know where they all end up. That I guess, is a natural progression as you sell (and say goodbye) to more and more of your art.

Now I'm off to paint. (Yep. My decision for today.)

Phone: 703.403.7435

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Dragon Breath" Painting Today

I painted this guy practicing for tomorrow night's demo (at the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts "Art Night Out!" fundraiser at Riverbend Country Club in Great Falls, VA). I've been known to decorate with beanie babies ... and love this plush dragon. So up he popped onto the sculpture stand that doubles as a laptop holder and still life setup stand.

This probably took too long to actually be the subject of tomorrow night's demo. In any case my dragon will be in a different position. Maybe a profile portrait?

Or perhaps I'll paint some of the dozen doughnuts Randy and I bought (for potential painting subjects) tonight. They're gorgeous!

Some suspense.

"Dragon Breath," 6"h x 6"w, oil on gessoboard, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Don't miss my earlier post from today about winning Third Place in Vienna's (VA) Treasury of Art Show and Sale.

Phone: 703.403.7435

"Becky" Three-Color Chalk Drawing Wins Award

"Becky", three-color chalk drawing by Jill Banks,  $300
I just got word that "Becky", a three-color chalk drawing has won Third Prize in the 41st Annual Treasury of Art Juried Show and Sale sponsored by the Vienna Arts Society. What's especially exciting about that award is who awarded it: juror William Woodward, a mentor of my teacher, Robert Liberace, who studied under William Woodward at GWU. I learned this three-color chalk drawing technique from Rob.

William Woodward is Professor Emeritus of Fine Art at The George Washington University where he taught and directed the painting program for graduate students.  Woodward grew up in Washington D.C., and earned his B.A. and M.A. from American University. He studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and at the Accademia di Belli Arti in Florence, Italy on a Fellowship from The Leopold Shepp Foundation.

William Woodward had some very nice things to say about "Becky", too. His comments were read to me over the phone -- so I don't remember all but they will be printed in the catalog for the Show. I do remember hearing "Renaissance" and that the drawing of Becky "isn't on the paper, it's in the paper." Okay, that made me feel great!

"The Writer," oil on linen, 24"h x 20"w, $2400
This is my first time participating in the Treasury of Art show that is taking place at the Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry Street NW, Vienna, Virginia this Friday, November 19 through Sunday, November 21. Hours are: Friday, 10am-9pm; Saturday, 10am-9pm; and Sunday, noon to 4pm. There's a reception Friday night, 7-9pm with the awards being given out around 8pm. I, unfortunately, won't be there because I'm scheduled to demo at the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts "Art Night Out" fundraising gala from 7-10pm the same night. I will go by and see the show to take a look at the treasury of art.

I have two other framed pieces in the show (you could submit up to three) and two matted drawings in the bin (one from Williamsburg and one from Rome). So I hope you can stop by and take a look. Maybe take something home with you.

"Rachel," oil on linen, 14"h x 11"w, $950
"Becky", three-color chalk drawing on treated paper, and I can't remember what size -- oops, copyright Jill Banks.
"The Writer," oil on linen, 24"h x 20"w, copyright Jill Banks.
"Rachel," oil on linen, 14"h x 11"w, copyright Jill Banks.

Phone: 703.403.7435 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Not Picasso" Painting Finished

Well, it doesn't have my signature yet ... but the Chinese porcelain statue is back at home from the studio and I'm pretty pleased with the painting as a whole.

I thought of some alternative names for this. Lots of Oriental pieces and then the bold "Picasso" book. It's named "Not Picasso" because I'm pretty sure this isn't the approach Pablo would have taken to the same subject material.

I get a kick out of the fact that my statue leans and looks sort of relaxed. (The real statue doesn't.) Perhaps he's come to life ... like the Velveteen Rabbit ... and is taking a bit of a break from statue duty. I do have an active imagination.

This is the painting I started as a demo during studio tour that also doubled as one of the setups for my still life class. (You can sign up now for my Winter classes that start mid-January. See my web site for class listings, registration form, supply list, etc. for my portrait and still life classes.) Since my classes are over for the Fall, yesterday seemed the right time to finish up. I was happy as a clam.

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!

"Not Picasso", oil on linen, 24"h x 18"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art Night Out 2010 Coming Up

"Corner Couple", 24"h x 18"w, oil on panel
Last week I delivered paintings for the upcoming Art Night Out 2010, the main fundraiser for the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts (GFFFTA) to benefit the school (where I teach). Funds generated through ticket sales, raffles and the silent auction will help the organization secure workshop space, make facility improvements (like better lighting!), purchase equipment and market the school's programs.

Classes offered through the school (I teach regular classes on portrait painting and drawing and still life painting) are terrific with solid instruction offered to students of all levels and ages by established local and regional artists. (See more info about my Winter classes on my web page:, click on classes. Just updated.)

Great Falls (Virginia) is a wonderful artful  community and the school, founded in 2008, offers classes that help the community discover or rediscover the artist within. Art enriches lives, helps us see the world through new eyes, and teaches us how to learn and become super problem solvers. As a teacher and observer of classes at the school taught by other instructors, I see great good happening here. Three hour classes fly by (even for the younger students). No one's ready to leave. Students go home satisfied that they know something more than when they walked in. There's a great sense of community growing, too. Friendships are formed.

"Nigerian Beauty", 24"h x 18"w, oil on panel
But, the school space needs help. It's too small to meet growing enrollment and comfortably house students and the "stuff" that comes with making art. The limited space precludes our being able to host larger workshops. Workshops are great for both the experienced professional artist who wants to hone skills and the budding artist who would like to try out an art form. A larger classroom makes for a more comfortable learning space and gives us the ability to enroll more students and attract other top-notch teachers to the school.

So those are some of the reasons why I'm supporting the school through my donations. I went a little nuts (perhaps) in my donations, with some real treasures here that will be available through silent auction at Art Night Out happening this coming Friday, November 19, 7-10pm at the Riverbend Country Club. Find out more at the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts "Art Night Out" page. Interested in obtaining tickets? Contact Chris Fraley at

"Ellen: Alla Prima Portrait", 11"h x 14"w, oil on linen
All work protected by copyright by the artist: Jill Banks. "Corner Couple", 24"h x 18"w, oil on panel, copyright Jill Banks 2007. "Nigerian Beauty", 24"h x 18"w, oil on panel, copyright Jill Banks 2007. "Ellen: Alla Prima Portrait", 11"h x 14"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010. "Figure Drawing Class", 7"h x 5"w, sepia ink wash and pen&ink, copyright Jill Banks 2006(?).

I realized in putting up this post that I don't have a decent photo of either "Ellen: Alla Prima Portrait" or "Figure Drawing Class". That will have to be part of my mission at Art Night Out! on Friday. I will be demo'ing -- painting something -- as part of the festivities. Hope to see you there.

Phone: 703.403.7435