Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Il Gatto" Finished

"Il Gatto", oil on Raymar panel, 14" x 11", Jill Banks 2010
I started this painting awhile ago ... and it is one of many that sat unframed, leaning on the floor of my studio ... obviously asking for a little attention. In the midst of all the things I need to do to get organized for the upcoming art events, I did what I needed to do. Paint. This was challenging (like it always is when my routine's been thrown off course) ... but fun. Good looking fellow.

I'm using, consistently, tons more paint. There are piles of paint on this one. Can't explain why ... other than those pools of paint on my palette must just be begging to be put to good use.

This one won't be at Sunday's McLean MPA Artfest (October 3, 10:30am-4:30pm in McLean Central Park). Anything being painted today on will be too wet to make an appearance. But ... I do have a great frame for it  ... and it should be a present for Great Falls Annual Studio Tour October 16&17.

I hope to see you at all the art-going-ons this October. See earlier posts on events and my web site for details.

See "Il Gatto" in its starting stages on an earlier post.

"Il Gatto", oil on Raymar panel, 14"h x  11"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

MPA McLean Artfest 2010 This Sunday ... Plus More!

My booth at Artfest 2009
I'd say that I'm busy getting ready for Sunday's big outdoor art festival ... but I'm actually frozen in front of a computer screen ... and hoping to face the rain in a mad dash to my car to get in to paint in the studio. Nerve calmer.

I know that Sunday's MPA Artfest (Sunday, October 3, 10:30am-4:30pm in McLean Central Park at the corner of Old Dominion Drive and Dolley Madison Blvd in McLean, VA) will be a great event, lots of fun filled with interesting conversations, some art sales, visiting with new and loyal fans. I love these events while I'm there. Still, they are tons of work to suddenly get your framed artwork and art business essentials to appear on a grassy spot in the middle of a park. Fortunately the Artfest is sponsored by the McLean Project for the Arts and their myriad of fantastic volunteers who make setup and takedown much easier. If you buy lots of my art, that makes takedown much easier too! (Hint.)

"Five Umbrellas", oil on linen, 18"h x 24"w, Jill Banks 2010
I haven't determined just what I'll be bringing, but I know of some pretty sure bets ... like "Five Umbrellas", "Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle" and "Arance, Oranges" ... plus many happy surprises.

I hope to see you there.

Oh, and tomorrow (Friday, October 1) is First Friday, 7-9pm at the Artists' Atelier, the studio I share with 15 other artists at 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA.  This is the opening reception for a gorgeous new show in the gallery of works by the artists of the atelier who will be participating in this month's Great Falls Studio Tour (October 16&17, 10am-5pm, self-guided tour of artist studios throughout Great Falls, VA -- get more info at Lots more art will explode on the scene by Studio Tour but this is a knockout show as it is.

"Lemons, Sunflowers and the Blue Teakettle", 30"h x 24"w, Jill Banks
On Saturday (October 2, 7:3) there's an awards and opening reception for the "Expressions" portrait competition exhibit at Herndon ArtSpace (750 Center Street, Herndon, VA). My portrait "Nigerian Beauty" was juried into that show. Go to the ArtSpace site for more info:
A bunch of my artist buddies were among the 26 finalists, including fellow Atelier studiomate Brenda Drake, fellow Great Falls Studios member Claudia Samper, plus Tricia Ratliff, Gavin Glakas and Christine Lashley. The show runs until October 26 in case you can't make the reception.

"Arance, Orange", 24"h x 36"w, oil on linen, Jill Banks
Better run.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Monday, September 27, 2010

Great Time with Oscar

Just had to post this ...

Here's Oscar with my Portrait Painting and Drawing class, week two. My dad brought in sunflowers for all the gals. Lots of hugs and good cheer. Oscar's been the very best muse.

He's a wonderful reminder that portraiture is more about heart and soul than flesh and bones. Thank you, Oscar!

Coming up:
First Friday at the Artists' Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA, 22066, October 1, 7-9pm
Reception: "Expressions" Portrait Exhibition, Herndon Artspace, 750 Center Street, Herndon, VA, Saturday, October 2, 7:30-9:30 pm ("Nigerian Beauty" was juried into that show)
MPA Artfest Outdoor Juried Festival, McLean Central Park, corner of Dolley Madison Blvd. and Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA, Sunday, October 3, 10:30-4:30. I'll be in booth 20. See for more info.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Chocolate with Sprinkles" Debuts at the Farmer's Market

Since I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment, only some of my artwork is loaded in the van for my Saturday's (today -- September 25) Farmer's Market booth (9am-1pm at the Great Falls Village Centre, near the intersection of Walker Road and Georgetown Pike in Great Falls, VA). Let's call it a sneak preview for the big upcoming events: MPA Artfest one week + one day away on Sunday, October 3, 10:30am-4:30pm in McLean Central Park (McLean, VA) and the Great Falls Annual Studio Tour on Saturday and Sunday, October 16&17, 10am-5pm where I'll be in my studio at the Artists' Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA. Find out more about Studio Tour at and more about Artfest at Lots of other stuff going on too in October, personal and art-wise. More exhibit info is listed on the home page of my web site:

Anyway, my donut painting "Chocolate with Sprinkles", once named "On the Edge Donut"will be making its first public appearance at the Farmer's Market. Perhaps it will be gobbled up. I used a palette knife on this little one... and the texture of the paint is, well, pretty cool. I have absolutely no "official" idea how to use a palette knife but it seems full of possibilities. More experiments to follow.

I hope to see you soon!

"Chocolate with Sprinkles", 5"h x 5"w, oil on canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Oscar" Alla Prima Portrait Demo

"Oscar" alla prima portrait demo in oils
Today was the first day of my Fall portrait painting (and drawing) class, and we all had the pleasure of having Oscar Haynes sit for us. What a great session! He just has this beautiful, calming, happy presence we all got to enjoy. Plus, he was thrilled to sit -- a first-time experience for this gentleman in his ninth decade. It's not easy to hold a pose (try it yourself sometime), but Oscar managed to hold it well and get right back into it after each break.

Demos are different than painting from the model on your own. They are a great teaching exercise, but you miss just getting to really observe your subject. That's a quiet activity ... as the person is slowly revealed. My class gets to experience that more next week when Oscar visits us again. Lucky them.

See more of my portraiture in the portrait section/gallery pages on my web site:

I'm going to spend tonight trying to unpack some, organize some ... see what I can get accomplished to still the jitters of so many art happenings fast approaching. I'm scheduled for a booth at the Great Falls Farmer's Market this Saturday September 25, 9am-1pm; the MPA McLean Artfest Sunday October 3, 10:30am-4:30pm in McLean Central Park (McLean, VA); and the Great Falls Studio Tour Saturday and Sunday, October 16&17, 10am-5pm (at the Artists' Atelier in Great Falls, VA). Read more about each event in my post about Events and Exhibits ... and I hope to see you at all or some! Bring the family and your art-loving friends. Yikes. Better get to work.

"Oscar" oil sketch, 16"h x 20"w, oil on Senso linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"All Dolled Up..." Painting Phases Two and Three

Just because I'm still up to my eyeballs in alligators (that look suspiciously like tons of cardboard boxes a la recent house move) ... I'm going to keep this short. A picture's worth a thousand words, right?

Here's my doll painting "All Dolled Up and No Place to Go" (I changed the title ... a little) phase two:
"All Dolled Up and No Place To Go" after day two
 And, here's phase three (after today's painting session):

I love her now very rosy cheeks. Read more about this painting ... and its inspiration in my previous post.

I have been doing lots of other stuff ... some donut paintings, commissions, etc. More on that soon. And, then, hopefully back to my color charts.

"All Dolled Up and No Place to Go" work in progress, 16"h x 20"w, oil on Senso linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Doll Painting: Something New Today

"All Dolled Up and Nowhere To Go" demo painting
Today kicked off the new Fall term of classes with my "Still Life Painting in Oils" with returning and new students ... and I'm as excited as this very nice group is to be back in the classroom. A lot of fun and lots of new things taught and learned.

I've been immersed in Richard Schmid's "Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting" book, and using it as a tool to teach many lessons ... balanced with everything I (as in me) know about painting. We started today discussing three of my color charts so they can start the process on their own. It's complicated ... but I believe they see the value in it.

Then I gave a demo ... resulting, after seven extra hours beyond class time in this painting, "All Dolled Up and Nowhere To Go" ... my first (I think) painting that included a doll. Normally, I go "shopping" all around my house ... with reinforcements from the grocery store ... for objects to use for the class still life setups. No such luck for this week, with the great majority of my household stuff still stored in a moving truck from two months ago. (It lands here tomorrow, along with hungry and thirsty movers waiting for guidance on where to put the twice-as-much furniture than we need.) So, my still life shopping trip took me to my mom and dad's condo ... which has layer upon layer of all this great stuff. My dad and I were both circling the place. Most (if not all) of the best picks were his. I must have rolled my eyes or made a face of some sort when he picked up the wooden screen -- that's used in the painting scene -- because he told me that it'd be great. Trust him. See, Dad ... you were right!

Even using the doll is a homage to Richard Schmid who paints them beautifully and often. I was lukewarm about the idea ... but I had a blast painting this. It pays to keep an open mind.

My portrait class starts next week. Looking forward to that, too. It's going to be a great Fall session. So glad so many people signed up and share my enthusiasm.

Be sure to check out my previous post about exhibits coming up ... and mark your calendars. All the best events are happening SOON.

"All Dolled Up and Nowhere to Go" work in progress, 16"h x 20"w, oil on Senso linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Events and Exhibits: LOTS!

Fall's a really busy time for art-related activities. I hope you can join me at all ... or at least some of these. Here they are, in date order.

Great Falls Farmer's Market: Saturday, September 25, 9am-1pm in the Great Falls Village Centre (off of Walker Road near the corner of Walker Road and Georgetown Pike in Great Falls, VA)
I'll have a booth there for the third time this year ... with paintings, drawings.

My booth at MPA Artfest 2009
MPA Artfest, an annual juried regional outdoor arts festival sponsored by McLean Project for the Arts: Sunday, October 3, 10:30am-4:30pm in McLean Central Park located at the intersection of Dolley Madison Blvd. (Route 123) and Ingleside Drive in McLean, VA.

"Expressions" Portrait Competition juried regional (MD, VA, DC, Delaware artists) exhibit: September 28-October 24, Reception and Awards: October 2, 7pm at ArtSpace Herndon, 750 Center Street, Herndon, VA 20170. "Nigerian Beauty" placed as a finalist and will be on exhibit at ArtSpace Herndon. (Judging for awards will be done from actual artwork after the show is hung.)

"Tranquility", 30"h x 24"w, oil
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club's 114th Annual Open Exhibition: October 6-October 29; Benefit Reception for the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Friday, October 15, 5:30-8pm; Awards Dinner: Friday, October 29, 6-9pm all held at the National Arts Club, a National landmark, 15 Gramercy Park, New York, NY 10003. "Tranquility" was juried into this exhibit at the National Arts Club.

Seventh Annual Great Falls Studios Tour: Saturday and Sunday, October 16, 17: 10:00am to 5:00pm DON'T MISS This! Join us on a free driving tour on the back roads of Great Falls, Virginia, to meet 48 painters, potters, photographers, sculptors, quilters, jewelry designers and other artists in art studios and other venues scattered around our village. (I'll be at the Artists' Atelier, the studio I share with a great group of other artists at 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA 22066.}October 16 and 17, 10:00 to 5:00. See unusual houses. Watch art demonstrations. Explore studios. Buy art. Celebrate creativity. Family friendly. Lunch/dinner available at many fine local restaurants.

To download a map and roster of artists and to register to win one of forty $50 gift certificates, go to You can also pick up a free map at any venue on Tour days.

Tour has become one of northern Virginia's most unusual and important art events. It is supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Arts Council of Fairfax County, Great Falls Foundation for the Arts, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, and the Great Falls Business and Professional Association.

 A Note: The Artists' Atelier will be decked out with LOTS and LOTS of original artwork -- floor to ceiling -- in a very special exhibit specifically for Studio Tour. So ... you have to see it THAT weekend.

See more of my work at:

Market Cellars at 11873 Market Street, Reston, VA (the Reston Town Center near the Hyatt). A small selection of paintings and drawings. Buy some art and wine. Ongoing exhibit.
Chasen Galleries, Richmond, VA.
Keller-Williams Realty, 6820 Elm Street, McLean, VA 22101, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Eight of my still lifes are on exhibit in a two-person show with pastels by Pat Neumann through mid-October.

By the way, I've postponed the start of my portrait class by a week ... it begins Monday, September 20 ... due to coming down with the sniffles, cough, sneezes. Oh well. (See my web site for more info on classes:

Phone: 703.403.7435
For info on Fall classes:
Great Falls School of Art registration form:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Color Charts: All Sorts of New Lessons

For my non-artist followers, lot's been happening and I'll be updating in a new post (today or tomorrow) about art exhibit acceptances and great art events that are right around the corner (coming up soon) plus other news.

Unmixed Tube Colors
For my artist followers, I've been working away at learning more and more about color. I believe when I'm done (whenever that will be) with concentrating on my own personal color lessons, I will be a true expert... with some great benefits for my future paintings. I plan on sharing what I've learned (to help your future paintings) through a special weekend workshop this Fall or Winter, on my blog and later my web site, and in the regular classes I teach (Portrait Painting and Drawing -- nine week course starting this Monday, September 13, now full and Still Life Painting in Oils -- nine week course starting this coming Tuesday, September 14, almost full. See my web site for more info:, click on Classes). I'm also considering writing a book about the topic. (Not sure when I'll find the time, but I know that the process of writing down what I've discovered about color will spur me on to learn even more... so WORTH the time and effort.)

Permanent Alizarin Crimson Predominant Chart
I both love color and the power of color. Through it, I convey atmosphere, mood, focus attention, keep  harmony, describe a sense of space. Through trial and error and experience, I've gotten to know and adjust my palette (a continuing process) so that I can see and reproduce the colors of the subjects I choose to paint. Still, it's been a matter of mixing two colors together that seem to be the most likely combination to produce what I want ... then I lighten or darken, change temperature or adjust with more of those two colors and/or some other color on my palette.

Winsor Lemon Predominant Chart
While I'm sure I'll still be doing some of that (adjusting, adding, etc.), I'll soon be mixing a much closer or the exact color from the very start. Wouldn't that be fantastic? What a time and effort saver! I can paint more paintings.

So, how is this all going to come about? I've been taking Richard Schmid's advice (from his Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting book) and creating color charts from my carefully considered current palette, specific to the manufacturer of each color that I use, to develop a whole spectrum of colors, color combinations in value ranges from one to five. It's time-consuming and requires a great deal of concentration, but I'm learning as I do it ... and have a great guide for those future paintings in the making. So far, I have 4 charts completed of the 16 I plan to create.

These are done from the following palette:
  • Transparent Earth Red (like Transparent Red Oxide), more permanent than Burnt Sienna which I used to use. (Gamblin)
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Gamblin)
  • Quinacridone Red (Gamblin)
  • Venetian Red (Gamblin)
  • Cadmium Red Light (Gamblin)
  • Yellow Ochre (Gamblin)
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale (Winsor & Newton)
  • Winsor Lemon (Winsor & Newton)
  • Viridian (Winsor & Newton)
  • Pthalo Green (Gamblin)
  • Cobalt Turquoise Light (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cobalt Blue (Winsor & Newton)
  • French Ultramarine Blue (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cobalt Violet (Gamblin)
  • Titanium-Zinc White (Gamblin)
From doing these experiments, I will possibly "weed" some of these colors out, to reduce the size of my palette of colors. But -- that will only happen if my color range and the convenience factor (of using a color straight from the tube) is not affected (much). I've developed this palette over time, adapted from teachers and what's happened to work for me. It's a pretty terrific palette. Expensive, though.

I'll share more about how I'm constructing the charts and some of my conclusions in future posts ... or possibly my web site. (I'll let you know.) So more to come...

I took the photos of my first couple of charts under Tungsten light ... (so the color is wrong) ... since the sun went down before I could photograph them. I'll replace them with less blurry, truer color versions ... again, sometime soon. In the meantime, ignore all the screwy things about this glimpse into my project. Please.

For those following my house renovation news, we now have about half of a new roof with a forecast of rain for tomorrow (yikes) and I picked -- and the painters painted -- my first wall color on the main level. Perhaps because of all these color lessons lately, I was certain (for the first time) of the color I wanted to replace the very red walls in our two-story family room. I picked ... drum roll, please ... Sherwin-Williams' Casa Blanca, a beautiful white. With a room full of windows opening to lots of trees, I now see the outdoors and our stone fireplace stands out. What a transformation!!! I left the studio many times today to stretch and stare at how pretty it is. Yea!

Phone: 703.403.7435
For info on Fall classes:
Great Falls School of Art registration form:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Colors and Whites: What I Learned Today

In anticipation of the start of my classes next week (a couple of spaces left -- see my web site:, click on classes for info), I've been studying ... reading ... thinking about painting. This past weekend and on the rides to and from Williamsburg, I was rereading my favorite (note: not one of my favorites ... this one's my favorite) art book, Richard Schmid's "Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting." He mixes a tremendous amount of inspiration along with extraordinarily clear writing about art solutions/thinking/techniques. It just couldn't be better.

I'm currently reading through his section on color and light. He was instructed to create color charts by his teacher, Bill Mosby, to learn his palette. I've never done this formal exercise ... but as of today, I'm going to start. (Plus, students be warned: WE'RE going to do this. Homework.) The lessons Richard Schmid learned doing this were invaluable. I learned just by seeing what he'd done and can't wait for more a-ha moments along the way.

This also led me to looking up color info on Gamblin's (an oil color and medium manufacturer) web site. There's so much info there!!!  I looked up reds (learning more about Perylene red and the Cadmiums and the impermanence of Alizarin Crimson and the new developments in Permanent Alizarin), violets (made me go out and buy and try Cobalt Violet today -- an AMAZING color -- and confirmed my suspicions about Dioxizine Purple, a sort of out-of-control color), and whites. When I got to the white section ... WHOA. The descriptions of each white gave how/when each should be used according to their properties. I have primarily been using Titanium white ... because that's what we used at Studio Incamminati when I took workshops there on portraiture/color and because, as a messy painter, I didn't want to worry about wearing lead from flake white paint.  So, today, I went on a major shopping spree (necessary) to Plaza Arts, I bought two 150ml tubes of Gamblin's Titanium-Zinc, one tube of Titanium, and one tube of Flake White Replacement. Titanium-Zinc was recommended as the best white for color mixing as too much Titanium is needed to lighten colors, making them chalky before they get light enough. Well, I tested  Titanium-Zinc today and I'm a HUGE fan. This was actually the white recommended by Kim English for a plein air workshop I took a while ago ... and suddenly, it all makes sense. (To me, anyway.) I worked more on a commission that's one step from completion using Titanium-Zinc as my white ... and, wow.

This is the tip of the iceberg of what I learned today. Plus, I know how I'm going to approach learning that much more tomorrow and the next day. I'm on cloud nine. I can't wait.

Oil painting is a never-ending discovery. There is no way to know it all. You peel away one level of understanding to find out just how much farther you have to dig/experiment/study/practice. It's a lifetime pursuit. (And then some.)

By the way, I received two rejections today (one in the mail, one on the phone) ... and it didn't make a bit of difference to me. While I prefer to hear good news, like acceptances and awards, that just doesn't happen all the time ... no matter what you do or who you are. And, honestly, I'm so excited to be learning and painting, nothing could burst my mood.

And, for those of you following my house/move progress, I'm starting to get excited about the progress and we will actually be moving furniture in next week. (We've been camping out in our new/older house for almost 2 months.) While we were away last weekend, little elves laid our lower level carpet (where my gorgeous studio is) ... and it looks great. Upstairs is looking better and better. If I just had an elevator to skip the middle/main floor, I'd think we were almost done. Seriously, I can see how wonderful it will be. Now I need to sell about 100 paintings to help me pay for it.

While I'm writing about colors and whites, here's a single-hued drawing from this past weekend. "Barrel" was my favorite of the four done in Williamsburg.

"Barrel", pencil, ink wash and Faber-Castelli pens, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435
For info on Fall classes:
Great Falls School of Art registration form:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sketching Around Williamsburg: My Parents' 60th Anniversary

Sorry for the long absence. I have plenty of reasonable excuses.

For the last few days, we've been enjoying an extraordinary weekend in celebration of a banner year for my parents (Ken and Shonnie Johnson) in honor of their 60th anniversary (on September 3) ... the the whole family in attendance. It's not an easy thing to pull four generations together ... but if anyone could do it ... my mom and dad could. And did. I met my neice's two beautiful kids, Maya and Maddox and some of the family met my son's fiance Michelle -- for the first time. All three of the new M's were a big hit. All easy to love and welcome.

The weekend was full of "happy" tears, great stories, and gratefulness ... that we have had a chance to witness a lifetime of a very special love that at 60 years is going stronger than ever. Despite a very funny string of technical glitches, my mom (who has trouble hearing) sang "Through the Years" (I think that's the name of it ... at least that's the refrain) to my Dad with the faint accompaniment of a poor rendition played on my brother's laptop. The words were perfect. Just in tune with their lives together. Good thing they didn't look at the rest of us crying our eyes out. To say it was touching ... would be quite an understatement.

I have had a chance to sketch ... since I don't golf, shop, or go to the spa. My parents sent around a survey in advance to check out individual interests to balance out the family together time ... and apparently I was the only taker on sketching/painting as a leisure activity.

So, here's one of them. Done today at Merchants' Square in Williamsburg. On a bench with a variety of visitors hanging out from time to time on a bench next to me. This one's started with General's layout pencil, then I added a watercolor sepia wash finished with line work using a sepia Faber-Castelli pen.

There are just a couple spots left in my "Portrait Drawing and Painting" and "Still Life in Oils" classes that start in one week (September 13 and September 14, respectively). Go to my web site:, click on Classes for more information, supply list, and registration info. Let me know that you're signing up, too -- since there's so little time left -- by emailing me at

"Scene from Williamsburg's Merchant's Square", pencil/watercolor wash/ink pen on Zecchi's paper, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435
For info on Fall classes:
Great Falls School of Art registration form: