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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Still Life Painting and Portrait Painting and Drawing Classes

I just put up info on my Winter 2011 classes taught through the Great Falls School of Art on my web site: There's info on registration and a form there ... plus a newly revised supply list. Any questions, send me an email at or contact Terri Parent, registrar for the school at

Come learn and create with me. Don't wait to sign up. Classes will fill. I'm not going to hold class in a snowstorm ... so don't worry about winter weather or travel.

I may add a workshop a bit later ... just trying to reserve time to enjoy getting ready for my son Sam's upcoming wedding (February) to his bride-to-be Michelle.

Some basic info:

Portrait Painting & Drawing – Jill Banks

This course covers the basic elements of painting and drawing the portrait: composition, mood, gesture, form, structure and features. Emphasis is placed on creating sound and compelling paintings (or drawings) as well as achieving a likeness. 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. 10-Mar. 21 (No class Feb. 21), 10:00am-1:00pm  $300 plus model fee (model fee to be paid directly to the instructor)
Registration Form is on my web site and at

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 (metals, textures, water, flowers), refine color and produce finished paintings, learn to see as artists, simplify forms into abstract shapes and how to construct compositions.  My supply list is on my web site, click on classes.

Tuesdays, Jan. 11-Mar. 22 (No class Feb. 22), 10:00am-1:00pm
$300 plus materials fee (materials fee paid directly to instructor)
Registration Form is on my web site and at

"Robert", oil on linen, 20"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks, sold.
"All Dolled Up with Nowhere To Go", oil on linen, 16"h x 20"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Hunks of Watermelon" Painting and "Boats in Burano"

Today was the last day of my Fall Still Life class. What a great group. Tuesday's will feel a little funny until January classes start.

Watermelon appeared. (Strange season, I know.) Part to be eaten. Part to be painted. The real watermelon setup looked perhaps neater than the cutting board version I decided to paint. This is one of those odd top-down views. It's a little tricky. I may come back to this tomorrow. A sign is that I bothered to put saran wrap over my models and left my palette at the studio. The knife, I know needs work.

Last night, I finished up "Boats in Burano." This one's little (8"h x 10"w) considering the scale of the scene. That's a lot to pack into a little bit of canvas.

By the way, this is a lot of red considering that my principal reddish-orange color on my palette, Cadmium Red Light made from Gamblin has been misbehaving lately. It's got to be coaxed into the right consistency with the addition of Gamblin's Neomegilp and the tube has sprung a few leaks. Just imagine your two hands the color of the top side of each hunk of watermelon. I didn't think it would ever come off. Yikes.

Tomorrow night's the reception at the Great Falls Studios Exhibit at Life with Cancer in Fairfax. See my contributions in an earlier post.

Tomorrow a.m., I drop off my donations for Art Night Out 2010 being held Friday, November 19th at the River Bend Country Club in Great Falls, VA. I'll fill you in on those donations soon.

"Hunks of Watermelon", 12"h x 4"w, oil on canvas, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

"Boats in Burano", 8"h x 10"w, oil on Senso linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Open Life Painting "Dressed in Yellow"

I took advantage of a long pose, open life session at the McLean Community Center (McLean, VA) tonight ... and as usual, it was a real treat. I'm always torn between painting and drawing. I don't know who the model's going to be or the pose or the setup when standing at the back of my car trying to choose what supplies to pull from the trunk.

Obviously, today I chose paint. And then, when I walked into the studio room ... wow. Yea!

The photo's not great. For those of you who are regular readers, you know the drill. If the paint's sopping wet and I'm so anxious to show you that I take the photo at home at night ... bad photo. I'll try to replace it tomorrow sometime.

This is fairly small. Next to me was a man painting on this monster-sized canvas. There were about six of us there, all with totally different approaches. It's the best way I can think of to spend three hours.

I also think it's the best deal in town. $9 per session as a drop-in although I know they hope that people will sign up for all the sessions. I can't. Just too many other obligations on Saturdays. They also have open life sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays with short/gesture poses. Check it out under the learning tab at the McLean Project for the Arts web site:

By the way, "Arance, Oranges" that's now on exhibit at the Art League's (Alexandria, VA) "Large Works" exhibit is getting lots of attention. This painting actually demands attention. It's hanging right behind the main reception desk and it literally looks like it's going to jump right off the wall. I'm serious. ("Arance, Oranges" is shown on the home page of my web site if you want to take a look.)

I've received beaucoup emails from people admiring it. A call for the image for the press. And ... it seems like it's being wished for by someone who had seen it this summer during my "Painting the Town" exhibit at the Old Brogue. Pretty cool.

"Dressed in Yellow", 12"h x 16"w, oil on Raymar panel, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Great Falls Studios Exhibit at Life with Cancer

I'm one of 19 Great Falls Studios artists exhibiting at the Life with Cancer Center at 8411 Pennell Street, Fairfax, VA 22031. The exhibit runs through December 31 and 20% of proceeds of the sale of art benefits Life with Cancer. There's a reception this coming Wednesday, November 10, 7-9pm.

A bit about Life with Cancer's Center:

Life with Cancer’s Dewberry Family Center, also known as “Carolyn’s House”,  is a free-standing resource center for cancer patients and their families. The new 16,000-square-foot facility combines the comforts of home with a place for cancer education and support of cancer patients and survivors at no additional cost. It is the only health system affiliated resource center of its kind in the Northern Virginia region.

The Family Center features a cancer information center, comfortable classrooms,  private and group counseling rooms, children’s and adult art therapy studios, a large exercise room for classes specifically designed for cancer patients, a teen lounge, a reflection garden with a waterfall, and a large dine-in kitchen for healthy eating cooking demonstrations.

Partially funded by the generosity of patients, survivors and community members, the Family Center offers a variety of education and support programs for anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis.

My pieces being exhibited include (from top to bottom): "Sunflowers II", "Sweet Temptation Cupcakes", and "Il Gatto".

"Sunflowers II", oil on linen, 30"h x 30"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008.
"Sweet Temptation Cupcakes", oil, 12"h x 12"w, copyright Jill Banks 2008.
"Il Gatto", oil, 16"h x 12"w (I think), copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Friday, November 5, 2010

Back to My "New York State of Mind" Painting

I took a break from this ... my most recent New York City street painting because I just wasn't sure what direction to take it. So I was thinking about it, even though I wasn't actively working on it. Today was a good day to take on the challenge. I'm continuing to think about it, but I'm making progress.

As an artist, I work to convey the mood, rhythm, moment for you to enjoy. We don't take in the world as a whole bunch of details. They don't matter ... or at least, I don't care about them. I want to draw you into this world I've created as one that concentrates on just the important parts that hold the painting and your interest as you take a closer look. But I've got to compel you to walk over to it.

What I knew I wanted to do was simplify the shapes -- something easier to decide to do, than to do. Isn't that always the case? I'm starting to address the right hand side of the painting. Finally. And, I'm evening out the patches of color. I've tried to make large batches of colors using my palette knife and putting the color up there using the palette knife. Then letting the paint set up a bit, and using my brush to smooth it out.

So, progress. Much more work to go.

See more of my street scenes on the gallery pages of my web site:

"New York State of Mind" work in progress, 40"h x 30"w, oil on Senso linen, copyright Jill Banks 2010. You can see this piece in development in earlier posts on this blog.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Boats in Burano" Stage 2

I only had a little bit of painting time today. Again. Almost all the rest of my time was taken up with art-related stuff (like picking up the painting that didn't get in at the Art League, rephotographing some pieces, a couple of visitors, attending a great talk by an art collector) -- but I still want a paintbrush in my hand for an extended period of time. Tomorrow.

I was bumping up the contrast and working on the reflections. Starting to suggest some people. Redrawing a little.

I swear it takes me three hours just to warm up. So here's "Boats in Burano", day 2 ... just getting warmed up.

While I picked up my painting at the Art League (105 North Union St., Alexandria, VA at the Torpedo Factory), I had a chance to look at the show. My "Arance, Oranges" is VERY hard to miss behind the reception desk. "Corner Seat" will take more of a search.

I love fellow artist Mary Deleyannis' painting of a lion in the Small Works show. It already sold, too. There are a lot of gems great for unique holiday gift giving. Just a thought.

By the way, we aren't open tonight for First Friday at the Artists' Atelier (my studio at 1144 Walker Road, Suites D&G, Great Falls, VA 22066.) Catch us for open hours Saturdays, noon-4pm or by appointment or whenever someone's in working away.

"Boats in Burano" work in progress part 2, oil on Senso linen, 8"h x 10"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Gourds and Turnip" Painting Yesterday and Today

Mainly I taught yesterday ... with a bit of painting in the afternoon working on this little one. Plus a little time today. My studiomate Elaine Elinsky brought in a beautiful centerpiece from her daughter Rachel's wedding this weekend.  She thought my Still Life class students or I might want to paint them. A wonderful treat. Those are the flowers peeking over the top of the gourd. (They hadn't arrived until after I started this piece ... so they are members of the supporting cast.)

I did want to take some photos in Tuesday's Still Life class... but I left my camera card plugged into the computer at home. One of the lessons was how to sign a painting. (Two were done with theirs.) I sign mine with the canvas on the floor as opposed to up on the easel ... so much easier for me. So there were some potential fun photo opportunities. Oh well.

Separate note. I entered the "Small Works" and "Large Works" shows at the Art League this month. No awards that I know of, but "Corner Seat" was juried into the "Small Works" show and "Arance, Oranges" was accepted in the "Large Works" show. You can see them both at 105 North Union Street, Alexandria, VA in the Art League gallery through the month of November.

I'll give you a break today. Not too much writing.

"Gourds and Turnip", oil on canvas, 12"h x 6"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.
"Corner Seat", oil on canvas, 8"h x 6"w, copyright Jill Banks 2010.

Phone: 703.403.7435