Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Blue Period" and It's All About Attitude

"Blue Period," oil on linen-lined Centurion panel, 12"h x 12"w,©Jill Banks 2014
If I happened to mush all the paint on my palette together, it would make a decidedly reddish mud. My palette is full of brilliant red hues: alizarin crimson (permanent), quinacridone red, cadmium red light, perylene red, venetian red, perhaps some scarlets, vermilion, cad orange.

But there are other colors residing there ... despite prods from an avid collector asking me if I was perhaps "missing my tubes of blue?"

Blame for the shortage might be my parents carpeting our entire house in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in one shade of blue. That was a long time ago and eventually blue has crept back into my house, life and art -- in moderation.

Here's an exception. An abundance of blue with only one pile of those reds put in for good measure. There are other bluish paintings in my repertoire. Just look around my web site and some cerulean, ultramarine, cobalt, even phtalo blue will pop up.

Multiple Batches
I will say that this still life setup was tough to keep paintable. My first batch of hydrangeas were purchased and a version of what appears here was set up on my countertop looking absolutely gorgeous when I went to bed that night. Next morning they were limped over, curled up.

I wanted to paint that gorgeous version so much ... I bought another batch. Covered it up to keep it warm getting to the car. Figured I needed to paint it quickly... and did. But those hydrangeas were again wilting in front of me. Good thing I'm a painter, not a photographer.

Attitude, Acceptance, Learning
An artist friend early on in my painting career sent me a quotation that in essence said that an artist will never be satisfied. That dissatisfaction is what drives us to continue -- to try again. I thought about it and hoped she and the artist quoted were wrong about that. Here I was -- a naturally upbeat, energetic, happy person headed down a path to what?

I get that quotation better now. I'm still a naturally upbeat, energetic, happy person but one who is constantly striving to paint more amazing work.  It is like a hunger ... and a game, to figure out how to push myself, open my eyes, keep reaching. Many artists near the end of incredibly successful, fruitful careers admit that they are just now starting, maybe, to figure things out.

If there wasn't so much to learn, to think about, to strive for ... painting wouldn't be nearly as interesting or fulfilling a lifetime passion. The challenge is great -- and once you meet one, you'll be looking for the next.

Okay, so what's the point? As a teacher and one who remembers starting out, my hope for students all along their paths is that they be patient with themselves.  Enjoy the journey, the discoveries and the flops. Bring a healthy dose of humor and the courage to try. Accept that we all have different learning curves and that nothing -- NOTHING -- replaces time spent at the easel. You will not get better from wishing.  There's no guarantee that your next painting will be better than your last. Chances are pretty excellent, though, given the right attitude -- opening yourself up to discovery -- that your thousandth or so work will be far, far, far improved from your fiftieth. You may not ever be fully satisfied -- but you can and will love lots of your own work -- and allow others to share in the joy of what you alone create.

A Favorite Purchased
"Honey Bunny," oil, 24"h x 18," ©Jill Banks 2012 hopped away.
"Honey Bunny" went home with a very happy collector today.

There will be at least a few sighs over that news out there.

"Honey Bunny" was painted during one of my Still Life class demos and beyond -- while I and students saw this bunny come to life on canvas. It was chosen as one of only 60 pieces nationwide honored to be part of the American Women Artists Annual Juried Exhibition held in Tubac, Arizona in November 2012. It also was recently chosen as a finalist in the Richeson75 Still Life and Florals Online Competition that will go live on March 7, 2014.  

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February 1 - 28: "Here and There" Exhibit at Katie's Coffee at the Old Brogue
Check out my "Here and There" exhibit online or in person at Katie's Coffee at the Old Brogue, 760C Walker Road, Great Falls, VA.

February 1-28: Flowers, Chocolates and Romance, Gallery in the Artists Atelier, 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA 22066. One of our best exhibits of the year. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays, noon-4pm.
I'll be in Saturday, February 8, noon to 4pm. Come see and say hello. 
 Reception: Art Night Out! 
Fundraiser for the Great Falls School of Art
Saturday, February 8, 6:30-9:00pm
  Art Night Out! Fundraiser for the Great Falls School of Art is on Saturday, February 8, 6:30 to 9:00pm.

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View from the Vineyard
Sign up to Paint in Italy with me for a plein air workshop that is going to be great!!!
Go to my website's classes page for more info on the August 3 to 10 workshop I'll be conducting in the prestigious wine region of Piemonte. Honestly ... the itinerary, food, landscape, fun we'll have ... can't be beat. It's a dream I didn't even know to have, come true. From my website, go to for more info on the itinerary and to register. 


Christine said...

This painting really caught my attention. I hadn't realized that you avoid 'blues' until you mentioned it. That might explain my "Oh!" when I first saw the post.

And thank you for the encouragement in the last couple of posts. I know you aren't speaking to me directly, but it feels like perfect advice and timing. :0)

Jill Banks said...

I'm glad! It's a lesson well learned and earned. You do seem to enjoy the journey -- so that's great!