Saturday, March 28, 2015

Unexpected History Lesson at Plaza de Cibeles

"Chariot Fountain at Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid," oil, 12"h x 16"w, ©Jill Banks 2015
My intentions were to paint in the garden outside the Sorolla Museum after touring the home, studio, and special exhibit of drawings and beach (playa) related work there.  My "olio" painting was not allowed (understandably so) but drawing would be ... and that I did until late afternoon.  I WILL give a review/blog about the museum later in the week. Now, it's enough to attempt to cover tonight's painting expedition. That, with a dinner ending at midnight Madrid time ... plus slow internet puts a crimp on my blogging time (and research). Facts are murky. Check them first.

After leaving the Sorolla Museum, I'd found my subject and a spot that would let me see my canvas, and subject, once darkness came ... which was soon.  There are so many fountains, grand circles, beautiful buildings to choose from ... but this one, in the middle of Plaza de Cibeles ... was calling my name the loudest.

Lights On,  Lights Out

I got set up and started briefly. I was happy to see the lights go on the fountain (a sight to behold) even before the sky turned dark. It was going to be a good night. Because the light had not yet faded, I worked on the drawing (in paint), figuring it could be adjusted in value (lightness vs. darkness) and color once the scene became a nocturne. It turned dark. The fountain was just starting to take shape on my canvas. 8:30pm came. I looked up. The fountain was off. The lights were off. What?

I continued to paint, hoping whatever afflicted my fountain would suddenly find a remedy. Many visitors kindly asked if they could take my photo. One seemed to know a bit of English so I asked him if the lights and fountain would go back on. They would ... at 9:30pm. They were off for an hour in observance of the end of the Spanish Civil War on March 28.  Okay, what are the chances that I would be standing there trying to paint a nocturne of this particular fountain on this evening, at that hour,  in Madrid, Spain?

The lights DID go back on at 9:30pm. The fountain started once again. I finished, packed my traveling studio back up and headed to the restroom, dinner, a place to rest my feet ... and to the hotel to tell you the day's tale.

Tomorrow ... there will be more.

Sign Up for Classes -- In Virgina and Italy!
Registration is going on now for Spring classes -- Tuesday nights, 6:30pm to 9:30pm for Evening Paint and Thursdays, 10am to 2pm for Painting the Plein Air Landscape.  Take a look at my Classes page and I hope you'll join us.

And my Paint with Me in Italy workshop in the Piemonte wine region, July 27 to August 2, is filling up.  I hope you'll be there!!!

Call for Artists
Plus, if you enjoy plein air painting, consider registering for Paint Great Falls! (Great Falls VA) to capture the town from May 28 to 30 with a Quick Draw event on May 31, 10am to noon.  Registration is now open at

Thanks for reading!


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See the Events page for more info/updates
April 10 to May 1: Women Painters of the Southeast Juried Exhibition, Blue Ridge, GA
May 2 & 3: A-RTS @ Rockville Town Square, Rockville, MD
May 12-16:  Wayne Plein Air, Wayne and Philadelphia, PA. Juried as one of 30 artists nationwide to paint the area.
May 30-31: Art on the Green and Paint Great Falls, Outdoor Art Show (under a tent) and plein air competition and exhibit, Great Falls, VA
June 5-7: Rittenhouse Square: The Original Art Show, Philadelphia, PA. 
June 18-21: VA Beach Boardwalk Art Show, Virginia Beach, VA. Visit my booth right on the boardwalk.
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.
December 3-6: One Of A Kind Show & Sale, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL
Paint with Me in Italy Workshop: July 27 to August 2, 2015. Join me for a plein air adventure in the Piemonte wine region.
More info and how to sign up ... here!

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