Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Radishes" Painting: My Surprise Subjects

"Radishes," oil on panel, 10"h x 8"w, ©Jill Banks 2011
I walked into my studio this afternoon thinking I'd be painting one thing, and a few minutes later had another subject in hand. Alicia Sommers, one of our guest Summer Atelier artists, had just given my studiomate Jennifer Duncan a bunch of fresh from the market radishes. And, she wanted to know if I'd like some. Alicia's husband had bought them, mistakenly. Neither Alicia nor her husband eat them ... and I would gladly paint and then eat them. Now, I've done both.

I love this one and it was just a great day, and great painting day. Hopefully I'll get in this post and a second one from this morning's adventures before Hurricane Irene causes too many issues.

When I started this painting, I followed some to the steps I'd been reading about in my landscape books. I lightly painted on transparent red oxide over the entire panel in oil, to then pull out the lights with a paper towel. I could have gone in to state darker areas, but I just started in with direct color, adjusting for greater darks with the tone of my paint. What I like about this is this subtractive way of painting really appeals to me and the transparent red oxide gives it a beautiful glow. There are detailed areas, and some parts where you just see the tone or wiped out lights. It's revealing its bones.

See more of my paintings of veggies, markets and food in the gallery section of my web site.

One of the greatest treats we get as artists is to see the unfinished paintings of the masters in history. We feel their hand, and enjoy a view from their spot at the easel, mid-stroke.

Over and over, I'm finding myself gravitating toward the unexpected, unplanned. There's a joy in the element of surprise. I recognized it during my 100 Faces project when each day brought a whole new experience. I've found it in my plein air adventures. Those paintings are a combination of the experience of the day -- all the senses and thoughts -- and putting paint onto canvas.

Speaking of that, I remember Jennifer Duncan telling me about a friend of hers who had multiple easels, numbered, scattered around her house. I think she drew a number and that was where and what she'd paint that day.

August 3 - 31: "100 Faces in 100 Days" on exhibit at the Artists' Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA. Open hours: Wednesdays through Saturdays, 12:30-6:00pm.

August 3-September 5: 'Scapes Exhibit at the Art League, 105 N. Union Street, Alexandria, VA. My entry, "A New York State of Mind," won Honorable Mention.

Thursday, September 8, 7:30pm: Demo for the Vienna Arts Society, Vienna, VA. More details to come.

Sunday, October 2, 10am-5pm: MPA McLean Artfest, juried outdoor arts festival, McLean Community Park, McLean, VA

Saturday and Sunday, October 15&16, 10am-5pm: Great Falls Annual Studio Tour. Major weekend long event with 47 artists from Great Falls Studios participating in a self-guided tour. I'll be in the Artists' Atelier, the studio I share with 14 other artists at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls. Last year, the tour drew 7200+ visitors from throughout the DC area. Don't miss it!

To read more about the 100 Faces in 100 Days 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

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