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Dancers on Display At Great Falls Library

Artist Jill Banks hosts workshop at Great Falls Library.

Artist Jill Banks paints, from left, Sydney Parks and Dylan Murphy, students from the School of Theatrical Dance, at the Great Falls Library Saturday, Aug. 10.

Artist Jill Banks paints, from left, Sydney Parks and Dylan Murphy, students from the School of Theatrical Dance, at the Great Falls Library Saturday, Aug. 10. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— The conference room at the Great Falls Library was transformed into a studio of sorts Saturday, Aug. 10. Artist Jill Banks hosted a painting demonstration featuring two local dancers, and welcomed visitors and other artists throughout the day.

"I watched one of the dance classes at the school Friday, and it was amazing to not only see their movements, but to see a whole group listen to their instructor and then move as one unit," Banks said.

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From left, Great Falls dance students Sydney Parks and Dylan Murphy pose for a painting at artist Jill Banks’ workshop at the Great Falls Library Saturday, Aug. 20.

Dylan Murphy, 15, and Sydney Parks, 15, both of Great Falls, are students at the School of Theatrical Dance. Banks approached the studio in previous weeks to see if dancers were interested in modeling.

"It was fun, but a little harder than I expected," Parks said. "Some of the poses we held are fine when they’re part of a dance, and you’re moving, but to hold them for a long time was tough."

The dancers posed for two separate paintings, one standing next to a ballet barre, and the other a more casual pose, with Murphy sitting sideways over an easy chair and Parks sitting on the ground, having just taken off one of her slippers.

Though the positions might have been a little painful for the dancers, they posed for 20 minutes at a time before being able to take a five-minute break.

"It was tough, but fun to do, and fun to watch the way she would watch us, then paint, it was clear she paints with a lot of concentration," Murphy said. "I was surprised at how quickly she was able to create those beautiful paintings as well."

While posing for the second photo, Banks and the dancers were able to try out a few different chairs, starting with the stackable chairs normally in the conference room, then moving to a wooden reading chair, before settling on the padded easy chair.

Murphy wore a black leotard, while Parks wore a white one with slight black accents. As Banks painted, she explained her process to the audience.

"I always want to paint what’s in front of me, and I move the canvas up and down a lot, because that’s how I get to different parts of the painting. I’ll also adjust it if I feel one part is getting too intense, moving the canvas helps to shake it up a little," she said. "With a scene like this, I also have to take it in as a whole, to see how it all will fit together."

Banks is a Reston resident and member of Great Falls Studios. She teaches at the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts School of Arts and works at the Artists’ Atelier.

"I’ve been painting professionally for about 10 years, and what inspired me was looking at paintings I liked, and wondering if it was something I could do," she said. "The most important thing I’ve learned is to keep working, if you make mistakes, be patient with yourself, and recognize the successes as they come."

Her exhibit "Serendipity," featuring 26 paintings of scenes from local streets and around the world, is on display at the Great Falls Library through Aug. 31.