Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Menagerie, So Far ... And Why I'm Painting Animals

"Portrait of Zoe," oil on linen, 14"h x 11"w, ©Jill Banks 2011
I mentioned a few days ago that I would post my animal/bird paintings here ... to show the growing menagerie. So here it is.

"Moo," 12"h x 9"w, oil on gessoboard
A fellow artist asked me what the source of inspiration was for this new turn. As always, there are a few sources. One strong source of inspiration is husband Randy and my recent trip to London. The bar in our hotel, the Chesterfield Mayfair, was beautiful, with pillows embroidered with dogs on the banquettes, porcelain dogs, paintings of dogs all around. The place, as you'd expect, was also dog friendly ... with a woman coming there with her dog ... who was offered treats and water from an elegant dish. Other artwork in the hotel and in many of the places we visited included animals. My favorite purchase we made during the trip were the many pillow covers we bought at the Portobello Road Market of dogs representing various members of past royalty. I look at and enjoy those every day.

"Pretty Girl Hen," 14"h x 11"w, oil on linen, ©Jill Banks 2011
A major, second source of inspiration was looking at a friend's gorgeous art collection. Not all of the pieces were of animals ... but a lot were and they were beautiful. Perhaps my favorite that I saw was of sheep. Beautifully painted. The animals in art made her home cozier and gave a distinct personality to each room. They were like friends surrounding you.

The fact that I don't usually paint animals makes it appealing as well. I like to keep trying different approaches. I want to experiment and that's easier to do if you are painting something out of the ordinary.

"Blue" won Best in Show
Even though I haven't painted very many, I've won awards/honors with three of them. The second dog I painted, "Max," was a finalist in Artist's Magazine's Annual Art Competition in the Animal/Wildlife Category in 2008. "Blue," my painting of an Eastern Bluebird won Best in Show in the Great Falls Studios Bird Show this month. (The show is up until June 30 at the Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, VA.) And, "Turkey Gone Wild" won an Honorable Mention as best Wild Turkey.

But, the greatest inspiration has come from painting each one. It's just fun and challenging, different and an opportunity to pay attention to these creatures. Get to know them better.

"Turkey Gone Wild," 12"h x 12"w, oil on linen
Baa. Moo. Cockle-doodle-doo.

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"Max," 12"h x 12"w, oil on canvas placed as finalist in Artist's Magazine's Annual Art Competition in 2008. Private collection.
"Murano Cat," 12"h x 12"w, oil on canvas, ©Jill Banks 2008
"Il Gatto," oil on Raymar panel, 14"h x 11"w, ©Jill Banks 2011


Nancy Keane said...

Love the post and love the "new" direction (although it's hardly new for you to try something different). My goldendoodle Wrigley is available for painting sessions when you are in the mood for something domesticated.

Jill Banks said...

Thanks, Nancy. I've had a few offers for animals of the domesticated variety ... and am waiting until I get the penned-in ones figured out before I tackle dogs.

I think this would be a good project to try out very different compositions, experiment with backgrounds, paint some much larger canvases, etc.

And, it seems clear that I'll be doing studies from life, rely on photography, too and a combination of the two will be used for the final paintings.