Friday, April 22, 2011

Visiting London: Royal Treats and John Singer Sargent "Land"

"St. James's Park Pelicans," watercolor wash, pen&ink, pencil, copyright Jill Banks 2011
Two days worth of London on this entry… and all I can give are the highlights. Big, full, great days!

Hand painted fan in the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace
Yesterday was Day Royal. Our morning tour was of the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace that featured a Dutch Landscape show then a rotating regular exhibit in two main salons which were beautiful. This was the first time that the furnishings and furniture truly held a candle for me to the paintings and sculptures. They were absolutely amazing. But it was the extras … like a handpainted, exquisite fan … that shocked me.

The afternoon was “free” and a few of us, led by Rob, headed off to draw in St. James’s Gardens adjacent to Buckingham Palace. An observation: everyone in London heads for their gorgeous gardens to enjoy all parts of their days … week long. This was my first time exploring the St. James’s Gardens … and what an extraordinary treat. Beautiful flowers and birds, ducks, swans, pelicans … birds I’d never seen. Plants I’ve never seen. People enjoying the day … their style … everywhere. At the very end, with a duck caretaker’s house as a backdrop, we set up to draw.

I wasn’t expecting pelicans and these took on all sorts of poses for me. I chose the tame ones I thought would last.  This super landscape format was fun and the subject was perfect. The standouts on this visit for me have been the parks (with people), the window boxes and flowers (all healthy and creatively arranged) and a sense of place/people. I’ve got more thinking to do about the last one…

At 5pm, we went on a tour of Buckingham Palace State Rooms. Unbelievable interiors … as you’d expect … with cascading chandeliers, intricate mouldings, fancy furniture, and absolutely incredible art. King George IV, according to our tour guide, was the great collector in the family. The absolute highlight among extraordinary works by Peter Paul Rubens, Canaletto, a Vermeer, Guido Reni, Canova and more … was the very finest Rembrandt I’ve ever set eyes on.  My favorite: Rembrandt's painting of "Agatha Bas" painted in 1641. It was tough to pull our group from the main gallery hall to go see the music room or more portraits of the royal family.  We weren’t able to tour the ballroom. Something about a royal wedding coming up next week…

Walking in John Singer Sargent's Footsteps

And now for today.

"Coventy Patmore" by John Singer Sargent
We spent the morning at the National Portrait Gallery, concentrating on the John Singer Sargent portraits. I loved his portrait of Henry James and Coventry Patmore. I'm beginning to like the head and shoulders, more intimate portraits to life-sized or larger-than-life versions. I want to see the person's face and I can't do that if they're towering above me. I also saw incredible portraits by artists I wasn’t aware of before. Always happens. What I walked away with from this morning is how deeply intrigued I am with capturing people/humanity on canvas. I’m always a bit afraid of going too far in that direction, because I like to be able to paint according to my own muse. As soon as you’re painting real people, they tend to care about how they are portrayed. That’s not as much fun. I also came away with the thought that all of these individuals seemed a bit lonely. My people will have to have people.

I wasn't allowed to take photos in the National Portrait Gallery ... or there'd be some. See the National Portrait Gallery's site for a better pic.

Part of the gang in Julian Barrow's studio. Thank you for the wonderful hospitality!
For our major treat, this afternoon we were able to visit Julian Barrow’s studio at 33 Tite Street … one  floor up from John Singer Sargent’s London studio. Sargent had also painted in the space we visited.  What a great place to paint, despite an abundance of stairs. Julian and his wife graciously allowed our enthusiastic group to visit and enjoy … plus fed us cucumber sandwiches to boot. We were happy campers.

"Parliament," watercolor wash, pen&ink and pencil, copyright Jill Banks 2011

Back to Parliament
Afterwards, Randy and I returned to Parliament’s grounds to get a chance to finish up my drawing from a few days ago. The light was fleeting but I think I got it. Some adjustments to come… maybe.

Tonight we splurged on a fantastic dinner in the Portrait Gallery Restaurant that is open late on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It has the perfect view of the city. Wow! I bet a painting or two develops from tonight. Did I say, “wow”?

And coming up as soon as I get home (yikes!)...

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

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!!!

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