Profile: Jill Banks, Painter

Saturday, August 26th is Women's Equality Day, an historical acknowledgment of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, allowing American white women the right to vote, granting them essentially equal say about community, career and personal health.   Today all women all given a voice to express a right to choice, and that includes changing career paths and choosing to live in a colorfully creative mental and physical state.  Meet Jill Banks, a local Virginia painter making choices in her life that bring her equal inspiration and reward.  In spotlighting Women’s Equality Day this month, Banks is a beautiful example of a successful female artist in today’s art world.

WadeAway 24x24 Oil

WadeAway 24x24 Oil

 
“I paint to capture life's magic ... to transport you inside my oil paintings -- to feel that breeze, hear the sounds, watch what happens, smell the beer,”
 

Banks’ interest in painting was first sparked 14 years ago when she noticed a feature article in a magazine for the Metro/DC area on an artist named Robert Liberace. The article focused on Liberace’s figurative and portrait style paintings and drawings.  Banks decided to take classes from Liberace, as well as Danni Dawson, at The Art League in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia where they both taught. She wanted to make enough money to travel and paint as much as she wanted too.

 
 
“You can’t have a career until you have artwork
that is good enough to have people want to purchase it,” 
 

Eleven to twelve years ago Banks attended her first art fair with her husband. A lot of her artwork sold that day which showed Banks that she could make money in this career.  As well as attending fine arts festivals around the county, Banks teaches art classes and workshops from The Artists’ Atelier, the studio space she shares with nine other artists in Great Falls, Virginia. The 2 to 3 day festivals have allowed Banks to expand beyond the DC/Metro area.

She also participates in a lot of plein air (open air) competitions, typically one week long, where artists from around the country are invited to attend and capture a town through painting. The art pieces from these competitions are put up for sale immediately through various fundraisers, which also benefit the artists.  Plein air painting can present difficulties such as bugs and various weather elements per season, according to Banks. However, it also offers beautiful scenes to be painted.

Me Painting In Telluride

Me Painting In Telluride

A few of Banks favorite paintings she has created include “Scene at the Bar”, “Morning Joe”, and “The Water Tester.”

“Scene at the Bar” depicts two women in a conversation at a bar in Spain, where they were observed them for this painting.  “Morning Joe” shows a man alone at a café, not noticing all the people around him. A little girl dips her foot into the Pacific Ocean at the edge of the water in California with her family behind her in “The Water Tester.”

To Banks, these paintings show connection to people.  “I’m always interested in other people’s stories,” Banks said. “Even with the women who are on the edge of an argument or something else, you want to know more about them. I’m intrigued with it as a painter, the relationships that are going on there. But I just think anyone who would see it would be mesmerized by that image.”  (To The Arts @ Henson-Parks it exudes our very premise of exploring your world and capturing what you see; hence, re-thinking and re-framing your view.) 

Scene at the Bar

Scene at the Bar

The Water Tester GSJB

The Water Tester GSJB

Before Banks was a painter, she worked in a marketing communications company for 16 years. Banks wasn’t enjoying working day and night and switched careers after her father wrote her a long handwritten note detailing why she should change careers.

According to Banks, coming at painting as a second career changes the way a person looks at everything and the way information is absorbed. For Banks it is exciting and different every day she wakes up. Banks says she loves what she does and has definitely found her calling.

Flower Power 30x24

Flower Power 30x24

“{In}the art form itself, you learn all the time,” Banks said.
“It’s just endless in terms of how much you can achieve and experiment.” 

According to Banks, the world of painting is not very equal towards women. Banks is a part of three organizations that help promote women in the arts, American Women Artists, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, and Women Artists of the West.

Banks says she would not normally join a women’s group but she believes in competing on an equal basis. According to Banks, the art world is completely subjective and most competition judges are all male.

American Women Artists had a fundraising campaign which showed museum walls when the art done by females was taken away (or vice versa), according to Banks. It showed that art done by females was five percent or less.

According to Banks, her art and her story of choosing art as a second career can encourage not just women but men and women alike. She has been recognized as successful to all people around her who have seen her progress. 

For those who want to paint but have fears holding them back, Banks says there should be nothing stopping anyone from painting. She mentions that it is a business and she has greatly benefitted from painting as a second career as it is difficult. A beginning artist should also have a way of making money right away so that the painting career is not a financial burden.

Banks is not fond of the maintenance and inventory part of being a painter. This involves cleaning brushes and keeping track of supplies. Yet Banks adores her career and says the best part about being a painter is making discoveries.  “Being a painter has helped me see the world in a different way,” Banks said. “I spend a lot of time just looking and observing over time people and relationships… I really communicate with the world through my paintings.”  Banks loves seeing how happy people become when they purchase artwork.

“It’s just really rewarding to see that you’re creating something that {brings} joy to people that get to surround themselves with it every day.”

 

CONTRIBUTED BY

Alexandra Ramey

 

Visit Jill Banks’ official website  to learn more about her and her artwork.