Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reaping the Rewards of Perseverence

"Wickford Harbor," oil, 12"h x 16"w, ©Jill Banks 2014. One of those paintings I couldn't have done earlier.
"Deer Park Run," oil, 20"h x 16"w, ©Jill Banks 2012. Painted during Wayne Plein Air
Today I received a Congratulations email from the folks from the Wayne Plein Air Festival that I joined 29 other artists invited to participate in this very prestigious, exciting event.

Amazingly, this is my second time being accepted to this top 10 plein air festival. The first was in 2012. Although that was only three years ago, it seems like eons. I was shocked to be invited then. You could say I was in way over my head. My fellow artists had spent a whole lot more time, hours, days, years figuring out how to relate the world out there to something they created on canvas or paper. I hung in there, but vowed to really improve. Perhaps I share a common trait of not wanting to be the person about who they whisper "how they heck did SHE get in here?"

"Rainy Morning Breakfast," oil, 20"h x 16"w painted during Wayne Plein Air 2012
In 2012, I was a strong, capable, committed, experienced, award-winning painter -- but in the arena of the studio. I had worked at mastering portraiture, figure painting, street scenes, still lifes.  I'd painted tons from life ... just not outdoors.  I'd finished my 100 Faces in 100 Days project, conquering rapidly moving, animated subjects bringing their likenesses to the canvas.  Even though working in one subject area can inform another, it doesn't mean you can be at the top of your game, competitive with the best in something new.

Yet, no matter what I'm doing ... I work at the top of my ability at the time. There are paintings from five, ten years ago that still impress me today. A few from my first visit to Wayne were terrific. (I love "Rainy Morning Breakfast" (private collection) and others.)

While there are highlights along the learning path, improving one's odds of producing consistently high quality work (there are still good days and bad days) ... takes time. Practice. Reflection. Desire. Study. Openness to being, again, a novice. A student.

"Campo Santa Maria del Giglio," oil, 12"h x 16"w, ©Jill Banks 2014. Painted in Venice. Really great.
It took figuring out that I had something to say working in plein air. My love for the presence of company (humans and animals) in the landscape, enjoying urban or rural life, just not all nature resonates, too. I'm not a trees only person. Working in plein air has brought new vitality to all I do. It is well worth the learning curve.

Not like I have to remember too far back, but just a few years ago I felt a bit sorry for the souls who visited my plein air work too early. My scribbles didn't look like a thing. They couldn't figure out where it would go from there. I'd hand them a brochure filled with my studio work to show that yes, I had some talent. Perhaps they had the problem.

The Rewards of Perseverance so far have been collectors embracing my work, being stunned by 2014 paintings I've created that there's no way I could have painted earlier, being juried into Telluride Plein Air, Telluride, CO and Wayne Plein Air, quite a few awards, and the feeling of comfort and joy at my easel no matter where it sits.

My advice: Hang in there. Enjoy the heck out of the Journey.

Events and Exhibits
  • February-March: "The Art of Romance," Atelier Group Exhibition, 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA.Open Wed. and Sat., noon to 4pm
  • April 9 - May 1: Women Painters of the Southeast Annual Juried Exhibition, Blue Ridge, GA
  • May 12-16: Wayne Plein Air, Juried as one of 30 artists nationwide chosen to paint in Wayne and Philadelphia, PA.
  • June 5-7: Rittenhouse Square: The Original Art Show, Philadelphia, PA.
    June 29-July 5: Telluride Plein Air, Telluride, CO.  Juried as one of 32 artists who will spend the week painting this very cool town lined with Victorian houses, bustling street against a gorgeous mountainous backdrop.
    July 11-12: Wickford Art Festival, Wickford, RI.
  • Paint with Me in Italy Plein Air Workshop: July 27 to August 2, 2015. Registration is now open. (This is where "Piemonte Lunch" was "born"!)
  • See the Events page for more info/updates
  • Ongoing: Visit the studio I share with 14 other artists at the Artists’ Atelier, Great Falls, VA open Wed. and Sat.,
    12- 4pm
Thanks for reading!

Phone: 703.403.7435

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