Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Kiwi" Painting of Beanie Baby and Much More

"Kiwi," oil on gessoboard, 6"h x 6"w, ©Jill Banks 2011
Today I received a package from Amazon with three of the four books I ordered on landscape painting. Yea!!!! I skimmed a good portion of Kevin MacPherson's "Fill Your Oil Painting with Light & Color" and have already learned a lot. I look out for three main blocks of information when in learning situations (workshops or reading):
  • What can I glean that will help me better explain concepts of painting to my students?
  • How can I apply other things I know about painting to solve new problems?
  • What is new and useful here?
In plein air landscape painting, everything is changing. The light changes. The wind blows. The sky changes. The boat moves. And, I kept changing the painting ... trying to keep up. In reading Kevin MacPherson's book, I realized that this was exactly what I was dealing with painting my 100 Faces in 100 Days project. I wasn't asking anyone to sit still. Sitters were talking to me. Changing expressions. Moving around. The light was changing. Yet, I figured out a way to deal with all of that and end up with very "alive" paintings.

The key is to commit to the shadow shapes ... they show you shadow and light and form the drawing. Then, leave them alone... as in don't move the light/shadow demarcation. This way, you can then put down what color the skin (boat, leaves, flower, shirt,...) is in the light. (I'm not sure I explained this that well ... but pictures would help.) In any case it works and it allows the painter to handle change.

I want to put a lot of the ideas I was reading about to work outside today ... but the heat wave kept me in. I guess I could have looked out the window, but chose to paint a mini still life today. There's a reason for that, too.

So, "Kiwi" Took Over a White Canvas Today
Since I can't be outside, I decided on an inside pet to paint today. There will be nine paintings of beanie babies, all painted on 6"x6" panels. "Kiwi," shown at the top is Beanie Baby #2. "Dragon Breath" is Beanie Baby #1.

"Dragon Breath," oil on panel, 6"h x 6"w, ©Jill Banks 2011
My now-grown kids were huge collectors of beanie babies ... and while we've given lots and lots away ... I've used what remains of them as part of the decor many places around the house. They hang out in bookcases, etc. Don't imagine a gigantic menagerie. It's all in good taste.

So I'm creating nine total of these mini Beanie Baby paintings because while I have them, nine will look great together. A limited supply.

I will make one confession, though ... and that is one did show up in a larger, 20"h x 16"w painting "Rooster Ruminations" that's now in a private collection. They will be allowed to show up in larger compositions.

I did approach "Kiwi" with some of the tools recalled today from reading MacPherson's book. I may give you a step-by-step show on tomorrow's blog. We'll see.

Workshop Coming Up: "A Painting A Day"

I was having a heck of a time figuring out what classes or workshops I wanted (and could) teach this Summer. There were a lot of "information coming soon" mentions on this blog. Sorry about that. I wanted to paint animals, paint plein air, do sketching around town ... etc. but for various reasons I want to hold off on those offerings until cooler weather arrives.

"Four Squared Donuts," 5"hx5"w, oil on canvas. Sold
Drum roll please ... I'll be offering a 4-day workshop, "A Painting a Day" Friday through Monday, August 26-29, 10am-5pm with a one-hour break for lunch -- through the Great Falls School of Art (1144 Walker Road, Suite D, Great Falls, VA 22066). I know this is a great way to learn, have lots of fun, have a painting or two or three to show for it at the end of each day and get back into painting after summer vacation. So, here's the course description:

Leave your love of detail behind and loosen up. Whether you’re interested in joining the ranks of daily painters  (who complete a painting a day to post and offer for sale on eBay or other sites) or just want to try something new, painting small and regularly will help you rapidly improve your skills and hone your artistic muscles. In this intensive workshop, we will discuss composition, color, value and edges – the basic building blocks for painting. Students will work on multiple small paintings each day of simple still life setups as well as paint drills and exercises to teach them to see as an artist.  Jill will give demos, one-on-one instruction and group critiques at the end of each day. Students are asked to bring in some objects they would like to paint and share with the group. All levels welcome. Email Jill at with questions. Information on the instructor can be found at and on her blog at

"Orange Peeled, Jr.," oil on canvas, 5"h x 5"w. Sold
4 Days - Friday through Monday, August 26-29, 10am-5pm with one-hour break for lunch
$460 (to the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts) plus materials fee (materials fee paid directly to instructor)

I'll be putting this up along with info on how to register on my web site sometime tomorrow. But if you're interested, let me know by email. I'll also be adding info about my 9 session, once a week Fall classes: "Portrait Painting and Drawing" to be offered Mondays, 10am-1pm starting September 12 and "Still Life in Oils" to be offered Tuesdays, 10am-1pm starting September 13. Class size is limited for the workshop and regular sessions.

Thinking about the workshop helped make "Kiwi" the subject of the day. Think mini paintings. Single subjects. Fun.

"Signs of Summer" Exhibit Reception This Friday, July 22, 7-9pm
Wear your flip-flops and join us for Sangria and salsa for the Atelier "Signs of Summer" reception at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA. 

And ... as an ongoing reminder:
August Exhibit of the 100 Faces in 100 Days Project at the Artists' Atelier
I'll soon be hanging the second exhibit of these 100 Faces (or 101) at the Artists' Atelier to be on view from August 1-31. You are cordially invited to visit (I'll establish open hours and post those on my web site and here on the blog) and especially invited for the two main events.

Jill Banks' 100 Faces in 100 Days Exhibit -- August 1-31, 2011
Reception: Friday, August 12, 6-9pm
Ice Cream Social: Saturday, August 13, 2-4pm
At the Artists' Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA 22066

Read more about the project on my web site (, go to the 100 Faces Project Pages 1 and 2 where you can see all 100 of my volunteers. Click on the paintings, and go to my blog post for that person's sitting.
100 Faces in 100 Days Project Page 1 (faces 1-54):
100 Faces in 100 Days Project Page 2 (faces 55-100):
Phone: 703.403.7435


Christine said...

I love Kiwi! He is so vibrant. As a collector myself at one time, I am looking forward to seeing who else sits for a painting. :0)

Jill Banks said...

You'll soon see. There's an interesting scene/character in my studio waiting to be painted.

They don't talk much, though.