Sunday, April 17, 2011

In Search of Inspiration: London Style

Well, I’ve had a week off from blogging and it’s time for me to get back to it.

"Buckingham Palace Fountain," watercolor/ink/pencil, copyright Jill Banks 2011
Randy and I are in London and have been since Wednesday am, April13. I’m here recovering (slowly) from the pace of my 100 Faces in 100 Days Project (read all about it on my blog entries from January 1 through April 10 or on my web site’s 100 Faces Project pages), looking for inspiration for when I resume painting in the next week or two, drawing around London, and about to start the art historical workshop part of our trip. The workshop portion is led by Rob Liberace who is guiding our exploration of the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace – to name a few.

Facing A Turning Point
My 100 Faces in 100 Days Project was tremendous in so many ways, and I had a clearcut direction and driving force for 100 consecutive days as one person after another entered my studio to share words about themselves and let me paint them while we talked. The schedule was demanding and difficult … but decision-making was simple. I knew what I was to paint every single day. I knew what I would blog about. (My sitters and their sittings.)

Not so right now. What am I going to paint when I get back to my studio? Hmmm.

My stuff, right outside the gate to Buckingham Palace.
This trip to London is meant to inspire me and send me home running to my paintbrushes. Ready for the paint to fly. I hope it does that.

What you’ll see on my blog posts will be different than what you read while I’m away. I draw, in a variety of media, on trips. No oil painting. Trips mean change. I need to do something different than normal … to shake things (me) up. While I’m thinking about what lays ahead, I draw the place around me. Usually focused on architecture vs. people. Again. Different.

Success Breeds Uncertainty
Working (very) hard for 100 days straight, wanting to make the most of the skills and knowledge acquired in the process, and realizing that it will be exceedingly difficult to be better than I was on April 10 (Day 100) at painting alla prima (painted all at once, in one sitting) portraits – are all factors that make moving on from here pretty daunting. My expectations for myself are great. I’d say there are some of you out there who’ve set a high bar for me, too. I want to live up to great standards and continuously improve. I need to apply what I’ve learned in these 100 Days to whatever I paint so all that effort doesn’t go to waste. There’s work to be done.

I arrived at painting 100 Faces in 100 Days by looking at what I was really driven to paint. What made me happiest. That answer was certain then. Painting people when they were right in front of me. I’ve got to do the same soul-searching now but maybe ask some different questions. I’m concerned with both the process and the result. When Randy asks me what I’m going to do next, my answer is I just don’t know. But I’ve got to figure out a way to sort it out. I’m percolating.

So, What Have I Been Doing in London?
Wednesday: Arrived in the am. Checked into the beautiful Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel where we were staying for four nights before moving to the hotel for the workshop group. Went to the Antoine Watteau (French, 1684-1721) retrospective drawing exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts. Watteau was a master at chalk drawings (red chalk, red & white chalk, three-color chalk). The exhibit made me wish I’d brought treated paper so I could do chalk drawings. I’m easy to sway.  A really beautiful exhibit I almost fell asleep at. We were trying to stay awake so we’d have an easier night’s sleep. Instead, we overdid it. To make full use of our all day’s pass on the tunnels and buses, Randy and I took a roundtrip tour on one of the bus routes to sightsee around town. We ended up getting back to our hotel and to bed about 1am. Long, long day.

Drawing #1: "White Tower @ Tower of London," wc/ink/pencil, copyright Jill Banks 2011
Thursday: We were late for breakfast in our hotel. We didn’t have a single device that told us the proper time. Every single “electronic” gave us a different hour. Actually, this has been a problem our entire stay so far.  We don’t wear watches. Our cell phones don’t work. My laptop’s confused. We ate and caused as little trouble as possible in the bar. Kept the chefs and waiter after.  Then we headed to the Borough Market that’s open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It was wonderful!!! (Except I’m still dragging and my eyes are barely open. Randy doesn’t look much better.) We started a two-day bus tour with the Big Bus Tour Company, too … so our trips around town were on the second story … so part of our getting acclimated occurred Thursday afternoon.

Friday: Lots more Big Bus … riding around town. My highlight for the day was seeing Harrod’s. Wow!!! Sort of Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and Walt Disney meets the department store. I went nuts photographing the food markets. Inspiration started really hitting me over the head. I have to do something with this. Somehow.

Saturday: A very long stroll down Portobello Market … that I loved. Minus the blisters and funny walk I’ve now adopted after too much treading. Unbelievable. I now pick where to eat based on whether or not it has a loo. I’d prefer the street food but a necessity is a necessity. We also toured the Tower of London. What a fascinating place this is … London. I finally had the opportunity … and took it … to sit down and draw. Drawing #1 from London is “White Tower @ Tower of London” done in watercolor wash, ink and pencil. Drawn sitting in the courtyard.

Sunday/Today: We changed hotels meaning Randy and I rolled our suitcases from Mayfair in the direction of Westminster/Victoria Station. Across Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace. That’s where I stopped to sit and draw while Randy checked us into the our new home away from home. This is the fountain that sits dry for now. Not a problem. There was enough going on that I didn’t need to also contend with water. This one took awhile. My guess: three hours. The temperature dropped. Frozen artist.

It's been awhile since I've drawn. I'm rusty but working at it. And thinking of things to come...

Wish me luck on the inspiration business...

100 Faces in 100 Days Exhibits
Even though I’m out of town, please mark your calendars for the 100 Faces exhibit events. All 100 faces will be on view two times this Spring/Summer. These will be WONDERFUL, not to be missed exhibits. Come see everyone!
May 3-31 at the Great Falls Library, Great Falls, VA
Reception: Saturday, May 7, 2:30-5:30pm
Demo/Artist’s Talk: Saturday, May 21, 2-5pm

August at the Artists’ Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA
Reception: Friday, August 12, 6-9pm
Ice Cream Social: Saturday, August 13, 2-4pm

I hope to be blogging regularly during my stay here. See what's new. Hopefully tomorrow.

100 Faces in 100 Days Project:
Phone: 703.403.7435

Here's a Repeat: You've Got to See the School! Register Now... Classes Start Beginning of May!
Wow! I went to see the classroom that I normally teach in ... now expanded to include my previous second downstairs studio at 1144 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA. Wow again! I'm so excited about teaching there in May. The expansion made all the difference. It gets great light. There's plenty of room. Such a difference. I'll try to take a photo of the classroom soon and post it here. Yea!

Get info about the classes I'm offering on the Classes page on my web site. Portrait Painting and Drawing. Still Life Painting in Oils. A workshop on "Mastering the Business of Art" on May 25 & 26, 6:30-9:30pm. Sign up. Be happy!!!

1 comment:

Jerry Stocks said...

Love your travel log. You are making me homesick for London.