Life is full with family (spouse Randy, grown son and daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughter Emma, and parents), friends like you, and an art career that keeps oil painter JILL BANKS smock-donned and constantly on her toes. Each year, Jill teaches multiple classes a week over three semesters (she was ranked as one of the Top 9 Painting and Drawing Teachers in the Metro DC area by expertise . com); exhibits at 10+ top fine art festivals (see Jill's web site's Events page for upcoming shows); sends work off to juried regional, national and international exhibitions; hangs one or two solo exhibitions; paints in juried plein air competitions (including Sedona Plein Air, Plein Air Richmond, En Plein Air Texas, Telluride Plein Air, Wayne Plein Air, Mountain Maryland, Bucks County Plein Air and more); takes on a small number of portrait commissions; and travels for personal painting trips and inspiration. No moss is growing under her feet.
Sometimes she does something spectacular. In 2011, Jill launched her 100 Faces in 100 Days Project, inviting friends, acquaintances and strangers of all ages to sit to have their portraits painted, allowing her to get to know her subjects and allowing her volunteers to get to know more about her passion -- painting -- in the process. For the first 100 consecutive days of 2011, Jill painted 100 different talking, moving faces from life and then posted photos of the paintings and reflections on the sitter and sitting on her blog. What she learned from the project was that anything was achievable given hard work, flexibility, openness, a sense of humor and some problem-solving skills. Plus, it was exhilarating and fun living life out on a limb. That project led her to pursue painting plein air or around town, inside and out. If people were no longer coming to visit daily in her studio, she was going to go out and find someone or something interesting to paint.
Awards and rewards have been plentiful since Jill turned to art as a second career in 2003. They include a Best of Show in the September 2016 BoldBrush Painting Competition (out of 1440 entries), Best in Show at the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club's (CLWAC) Members Exhibition in NYC, three Best of Show awards at the Art League, an Honorable Mention of Artistic Excellence at Salon International, a Certificate of Merit in Oils at the Salmagundi Club's Non-Member Exhibition, three memorial awards at the CLWAC Annual Juried Exhibition at the National Arts Club, three-time finalist in the Artists' Magazine's Annual Art Competition, First Place in Paint Herndon! and two Best of Shows at artReston. She was twice awarded Strauss Fellowship grants by the Arts council of Fairfax County. Her work was featured on the cover of élan Magazine in January 2015, April 2011 and May 2006. Jill was featured as an Artist to Watch in Southwest Art Magazine's July 2017 issue. Her paintings have also appeared in American Art Collector, Southwest Art, Fine Art Connoisseur, the Washington Post, Virginia Living, Spaces Magazine and VivaTysons. Tied for all those awards are the joy of seeing students thrive and new owners start (or continue) the journey of enjoying living with her art everyday.
When I'm not out in the field painting or traveling, there are two studios ready and waiting to put all that gathered inspiration to good use. One's in my home in Fairfax. Another is a studio shared with nine other artists at the Artists' Atelierat 756 Walker Road in Great Falls, Virginia.
Having work space in my home affords the chance to comfortably paint whenever and however long I want. I've thrown a smock over pajamas and donned slippers many a time. For some of my paintings, I prefer the control and drama of lighting setups at night -- and then paint until midnight or so. Favorite parts of my home studio include a long full wall of shelves to hold mountains of oil paints, supplies, still life objects -- all tucked away behind curtains; and a taboret (table to hold my palette and other materials) - a red metal utility cart that was my Great Aunt Ruth's that's taken on its new life in helping me paint. There are two high long windows that let in natural light without spilling glare on the canvas. Lots of room to back up and comfy chairs as a perch to admire the day's work. Cozy, quiet, functional, great.
My joint "away from home" studio is in the heart of Great Falls (Virginia) at the Artists' Atelier in the Village Centre. There fellow studiomates, visitors, students from classes at the Arts of Great Falls School across the hall (where I teach Spring, Fall and Winter) wander in throughout the day. My spot has a big bay window seat that looks out onto the Atelier's front porch. We all love it there -- enjoy each others' company plus being surrounded by all the activity at the Village Centre (kids tumbling on the lawn, people enjoying ice cream on the patio, summer concerts, celebrations. Visitors are welcomed often -- during the Great Falls Studio Tour the third weekend in October (www.greatfallsstudios.com for info), or regular open hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays (check www.GreatFallsAtelier.com for times) and First Fridays for the Art Walk in the Village, 6-8pm.
Stylistically, I continue to evolve from realism with feeling to impressionism with even more emotion and simplification. Painting plein air and figuring out what I'm truly working to convey naturally led to details and extra stuff falling to the wayside. Just like wanting you to hang out inside my paintings with me -- I want to build a relationship with you as enthusiast, student and collector. That's one of the advantages of my being a living artist. I thrive through our one-on-one connection -- while painting, exhibiting my art and talking to you at fine art festivals, helping you discover the artist within through teaching, guiding you toward finding the right pieces to enhance your life. Thanks to all of you who allow me to be a part of YOUR world!