Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hello from Roma

I can barely get on the Internet ... so hopefully I'll get through this post. Today was our first day of the "official" art historical workshop and we spent it ... with ten gadzillion other people at the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel. Randy and I are in Rob Liberace's art historical workshop (for the third time in Italy), and as usual, thoroughly enjoying it. We went through the Raphael rooms before entering the Sistine Chapel, and spent a good bit of time discusiing Raphael's "School of Athens" fresco. (And "The Transfiguration".) What's wonderful about being on these tours is seeing the artwork through an artist's eyes. Totally different. I'm constantly looking for inspiration as an artist to make me reach for some new height. These tours, more than anything else, inspire me. You see (and hear) how artists of each time period influenced and inspired each other. Rob talked about Raphael's "last minute" inclusion of the figure of Michelangelo in "The School of Athens" after the young artist saw the Sistine Chapel work in progress. Essentially, Raphael was blown away by Michelangelo's work. (Who wouldn't be?) He'd earned his rightful place in history.

The Sistine Chapel leaves me awestruck. Every aspect of it. The incredible design. How all the pieces fit together. The narrative. The large figures and smaller. The layers. So much I'm positive just has meaning for him. He is so bold and confident. Rightfully so. You take this ridiculously ambitious project ... then place it on a ceiling ... work in a secondary medium (he's first a sculptor) ... and work in fresco (totally unforgiving ... done at once ... etc.) Michelangelo must have loved a challenge.

After our Vatican Museum visit, Randy and I limped (sore feet) through St. Peter's -- seeing the Pieta, and extraordinary sculptures, architecture, et al. It was a great day.

I've struggled to draw in Roma. Hence, here's a drawing from our Florence days last week. We visited Santa Croce and sat in the piazza for a nice lunch. Here's our vantage point. Hopefully ... hopefully ... I'll post more ... Roman work this week.

I'm gathering thoughts and inspiration these two weeks. I can't wait to paint when I get home ... but then again, I can't wait to see what's in store for each day until then. The sights and sounds are powerful. Beautiful. What will I take from here?

"Santa Croce", ink and watercolor wash on treated Canson mi-teintes paper, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Michelangelo's David" Drawing from Florence

We're checking out of our hotel in ten minutes to leave for Rome ... so very quick post. Lots of computer troubles so far and that's slowed me down. Hopefully I'll catch up soon.

Drew this at the Accademia in front of Michelangelo's David yesterday. This is definitely not a rough life.

"Michelangelo's David", red chalk drawing on treated paper, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Lindt Bunny" Painting Today

Life's a little crazy at the moment. Whenever I'm trying to get ready to go on a trip, I keep adding to the to do list and seem unable to "do" any of them. Strange phenomena. I did manage to paint this little rabbit. Makes sense that painting him (or her) wasn't really a top preplanned priority. (Not on the list.)

On my behalf, I really didn't have sufficient time to tackle anything else. All my other painting tasks require a long span of uninterrupted hours... and I had a small window of opportunity.

This evening, Randy and I had our last Italian lesson tonight before heading off to Italy so there was a predetermined stop time. I now know how to ask where the restrooms are ... a very important piece of information. I'm very glad I'm not getting graded on pronunciation, understanding or memorization. That pretty much sums up my progress.

After the Italian lessons, we went shopping at the Art League store for some materials to take on the trip. I can't wait to try them out! That probably should be on the to do list. I'm putting together a sketchbook with a variety of papers -- different colors and kinds. (Gutenberg laid, Frankfurt cream, three colors of Canson Mi-teintes.)

"Lindt Bunny", oil on Raymar panel, 8"h x 6"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010. Another small one.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Dining Room Roses": A New Interior Work in Progress

Quick post. This is really a work in progress. I see plenty to fix and do ... and it's sopping wet ... so I can't do too much more at the moment.

It's the latest of my home interior paintings. This is a scene I was dying to paint as the roses opened up. While my other interiors are tiny, I decided to go larger with this one. Much. I'm working toward being able to tackle my restaurant paintings and scenes on site ... not from photos. These interiors are a stepping stone. What I need to figure out ... is what size I can accomplish in a single painting session live and how to achieve some of the lighting effects and contrasts I love in an alla prima painting. A lot to learn.

"Dining Room Roses" work in progress, Yarka oil on linen, 18"h x 24"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Patil Portrait: "Unveiled"

The Patil family came over to take their first look at their portrait ... the one I've been secretly working on over the past 10 months. All went very well!!!

I have a few tweaks ... nothing major ... and then it will be theirs.

I truly enjoyed working on this portrait from beginning to end. It's my greatest challenge to date ... four people, two dogs, largest canvas I've painted, etc. What I particularly loved about it is that this is the kind of painting I'd want to do on my own. The Patil's had seen my restaurant series ... particularly the painting I did of "Randy and Me" and decided that's the kind of portrait they would like of their family. Amazing!

The painting depicts real life in the Patil family ... right before daughter Radhika was going off to college. I did a series of photo shoots during their dinner hour and drew the concept ... a combination of bits and pieces from hundreds of photos. There's a lot of life there.

I wondered about pleasing everyone in the family. Was that possible? Yes, and yea!

Raj (the dad) made two comments that made me very happy. He said he felt like he was right there sitting with them. He also said that they looked real ... or alive ... so much different than a photo. I've been in awe of when that happens right before your eyes as you paint. It's truly magical. I'm glad he saw it, too.

I'm showing some pretty poor photos at the moment. The three tripods I have in the garage are all missing the part that screws into the bottom of my camera ... so I took the photos without that. I move. Constantly. Add to that the room's light is pretty yellow. Add to that I was so anxious to post this I didn't bother to move the chair.

I'll finish this up and take better photos soon.

Find out more about commissioning a portrait on my web site. See the gallery pages for a look at other portraits and the commissions page for pricing and process information.

So, this is post #3 for today. Be sure to read post #2 about special news about son Sam and Michelle ... and post #1 about this afternoon's alla prima portrait.

Tonight I'm painting an interior of my dining room. Such a wonderful day.

"The Patil Portrait" almost done, oil on Angel linen, approx. 44"h x 59"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Michelle and My Son Sam: BIG News

The REALLY, really big GREAT news I have to share is that my little kid, son Sam had quite a week and proposed to his girlfriend Michelle last night. It wasn't enough that he went through surgery for a deviated septum (on Michelle's birthday), a stomach virus, and healing this week ... during Spring Break at Virginia Tech. He bought an engagement ring (with a bandaged nose) and proposed. And, Michelle said yes.

We are thrilled. Both Sam and Michelle are lucky people to have each other to spend the rest of their lives with. They are just fun to be around and terrific individuals. Even better together!

I've so enjoyed getting to know Michelle. How lucky I am to be getting her as my daughter-in-law! She's an incredibly caring, supportive person who obviously deeply loves my son. When Sam (nose bandaged, sick to his stomach) asked Michelle if she wanted anything ... she said "yes, for you to get better." To know her is to love her.  I'd say Sam agrees.

To know Sam is to love him. They are just right for each other.

Last summer I painted two portraits of Michelle while she was staying with us for the month. Her parents own "Michelle I" and Sam owns "Michelle II".  Something I found interesting is that her Mom (and Michelle) like their portrait ("Michelle I") the best and Sam likes his portrait ("Michelle II") the best. How'd that happen?

You can read more about those portraits on earlier blog posts:
"Michelle II"
"Michelle I Getting Better"
"Two Alla Prima Portraits: Lots of Michelles"

The only odd thing for me about this news is that I'm now the Mom of someone getting married. That must mean I'm out of my 20s. I've noticed that as I grow older, I find myself on the other side of events ... you remember when the same moments happened to you ... and now you know what your parents felt and experienced during those big moments in your life. Sam talked to Randy and I about his plan last Friday night. On Saturday, while Michelle was taking care of Sam, Randy and I walked around the quad at Virginia Tech ... taking it all in. Excited but still adjusting to this new stage in our life. It just so happened that a wedding was taking place at the chapel there as we walked. I kept thinking of the song "Time Passages".

Congratulations Sam and Michelle!

Left: Michelle's newly adorned left hand.

Top: "Michelle I", oil on linen, 24"h x 18"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Middle: "Michelle II", oil on linen, 20"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

"Ellen" Alla Prima Portrait: Post #1

Get ready for a full day of posts ... three in all. There's lots to talk about! It's been an interesting 24 hours.

This afternoon, the Great Falls School of Art hosted a free drawing/painting session with Ellen as our model. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that painting with a live model is about as much fun as I can stand. Shorten how much time I have to paint and I have that much more of a blast.  I had an hour and a half for this one. Knowing that, I picked a small canvas size (9" x 12") and didn't fuss over anything. Fun, fun, fun.

It's painted alla prima ... or all at once. Wet into wet.

By the way, we had tons of visitors at the Artists' Atelier (the studio I share with 15 other artists at 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA). We're open the First Friday of every month from 7 to 9pm and every Saturday from noon-4pm. The flood of folks came because fellow studiomate Judith St. Ledger-Roty made the cover of the Great Falls Connection and Jenna Klimchak and Jennifer Duncan were also featured as well. Publicity helps! Judith had her opening of a solo show at Katie's Coffee, part of the Old Brogue Irish Pub... I stopped in at the reception and she'd sold two paintings and had a whole slew of appreciative patrons enjoying the show. It hangs through the month of March ... a good time to be showing scenes from her recent trip to Ireland at this very popular Irish pub.

Many of those visitors were interested in signing up for classes. Go to my website: www.jillbanks.com to find all the listings for classes and to download a registration form ... or read my blog entry about classes here. Sign up now...

The empty easel is where I was painting ... I'd just packed up.

Check back for the other two posts today. You're going to enjoy them!

"Ellen", oil on Senso linen, 9"h x 12"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wet Paint: Scene from Murano

With our trip to Italy (Florence, Rome, yea!) fast approaching, I needed to revisit the place. This is day two for this painting... although I believe that's a little exaggerated. Day one consisted of about three hours. Short day.

There's still not much to see ... but there will be.

So many ideas have been rolling around in my mind lately.  The latest is to work on some magnificent drawing. Hmmm. On a recent trip to NYC, the lobby was filled with beautiful, moody drawings of the street and bridges. While moody isn't me, the city is.  I loved the scale and simplicity of what I saw. I've never really worked large in a drawing medium. I'd like to try it. Chances are I will.

On Saturday I present the major commission I've been working on. I think it's beautiful Let's see what the rest of the consensus is.

This one's a start. "Murano Moment" work in progress, oil on Senso linen, 16"h x 20"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

See yesterday's post for class information.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Drawing 101 and Oil Painting Atelier Program: New Course Offerings

I just updated my web site with my latest course offerings through the Great Falls School of Art. (Plus you can see what other courses and workshops are offered for kids, teens and adults.)  The Great Falls School of Art (1144 Walker Road, Suite D, Great Falls, VA 22066) is a program of the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts.

To read more about my (Jill Banks) Spring course offerings, go to my Classes page.
For all the Great Falls School of Art course offerings -- all classes & workshops, click here.
Printable Registration Form and instructions.

Read more about my classes on the web site, but here's an introduction:

Oil Painting Atelier Program - Jill Banks
This course is designed for the intermediate to advanced painter interested in exploring individual projects in a supportive, mentoring environment. I’m bringing some of the benefits/practical knowledge gained from sharing studio space for many years with other professional artists and building my own studio practice to the atelier student. Each student will move at their own pace and work on projects of their choice. If you are interested in still life painting, we’ll address choosing objects and setting up pleasing compositions. Interested in painting portraits or people? Collaborate with other artists in the class to hire models, choose poses, clothing, etc. Working from photos? We’ll discuss overcoming pitfalls, manipulating photos in Photoshop Elements, cropping, resizing, etc. Even how to take better photos to use as sources. (Read more.)

Tuesdays, April 13-June 8, 10:00am-3:00pm, 8 sessions (no class April 26)
$450 plus model and materials fees (to be paid directly to me - amount TBD)

Registration form

Drawing 101 Jill Banks
For beginners only. Learn mark-making, drawing contours, building form, indicating light/shadow and perspective using the simplest of materials … pencils (and maybe charcoal) plus paper. The building block to learning how to draw is learning how to observe. You’re going to learn to see in a whole new way!

Bring a sense of humor and the courage to build a new skill set in a comfortable, fun environment. Questions? Email me. (Read more.)

A supply list will be posted soon.

Tuesdays, Apr. 13-Jun. 8, 4:00-6:00pm, 8 sessions (no class April 26
$200 plus materials fee (materials fee paid directly to instructor)

Registration form

Sign up early. Class sizes are limited. Join us!

By the way, there's a free Adult Figure Drawing Lesson at the school this Saturday, March 13, 2:30-4:30pm. Bring your drawing supplies.

Top: "Tranquility", 30"h x 24"w, oil on linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010
Bottom: "John", charcoal, copyright Jill Banks 2008. (Sold.)

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"The Nutcracker" Drawing and Back in Business

Finally... new camera in hand, battery's charged ... and I'm back to the blog world. Randy and I spent the weekend nursing son Sam after Friday's surgery for a deviated septum. That meant lots of time sitting in his little apartment bedroom while he rested. Since I didn't think he wanted me to draw his bandaged nose, I drew the nutcracker (obviously) that sat on his desk. It looked like he was keeping watch, too.

I've just put together the Spring class bulletin for the Great Falls School of Art ... and will be posting that here and on my web site by tomorrow. There are lots of interesting classes offered, including mine! (One of them is a drawing class for beginners.)

"The Nutcracker", General's layout pencils, 10"h x 8" wide, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Figure Show and a Bit of a Snag

The Figure Show at the Artists' Atelier was hung today ... with the official opening this Friday, March 5 from 7-9pm. Come visit the gallery and studio spaces I share with 15 other artists at 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA. And, this is unusual ... I won't be there this First Friday or April's First Friday ... but enjoy the show and great company for me! The studio is also open on Saturdays, noon to 4pm for open hours or whenever an artist is in.

My contributions to the show are "Caffe Bar" and "Corner Couple". They join 20 other pieces in the show. Plus, because the First Friday opening for last month's show was canceled due to our mammoth DC snowstorm ... we held over the Still Life show in the gallery ... so BONUS! Two shows in one.

See more of my street and restaurant scenes in the gallery section of my web site: www.jillbanks.com.

The Snag: My camera's dead. Amazing how critical that particular tool is to me. So far, (as in since yesterday afternoon) I haven't been able to:
  • photograph a still life set-up so that I can put it back together for class next week.
  • photograph a little new painting I started yesterday.
  • photograph the new show at the Artists' Atelier to post here -- as an enticement to come to First Friday this Friday, March 5, 7-9pm at 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA. (I won't be there this First Friday or next month -- but my paintings and fellow artists will be -- so come!)
  • you get the idea.
Randy's researching the camera purchase online so I should be back in business soon.

P.S. I'll be posting info about Spring classes at the Great Falls School of Art in the next day or two.

"Caffe Bar", oil on linen, 20"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2009.
"Corner Couple", oil on Raymar panel, 24"h x 18"w, copyright Jill Banks 2007.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
Email: jillbanks1@aol.com
Phone: 703.403.7435