GREEN RIVER –The Sweetwater County Library is hosting an exhibit of watercolor paintings by Green River resident Sandra Banks from now through the end of February. The public is invited to a reception to meet the artist on Tuesday, January 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.
“Watercolor Retrospective” is twenty-five original watercolor paintings which include a variety of sizes and subjects – landscapes such as Jenny Lake and Green River, flowers, birds, still life, and Chinese style brushwork.
Banks has been interested in art throughout her life and at the age of fifteen, took a short correspondence course through the mail with Chicago School of Art.
“Do you remember matchbooks that said ‘Draw me’? Well, I did, and of course – they sent a salesman. I had art in high school and learned a lot of fundamentals there. In the early 80’s, I took a sculpting class from Rudy Gunter, and made three nice bronze sculptures: one of a bodybuilder, and two of children playing.”
Banks was also motivated to study on her own. She and a friend studied the book “Drawing on the Right Side of your Brain.” Each week they would meet for lunch and discuss another chapter.
”It made studying fun. That book really helped take the fear out of drawing for me. After I retired, I decided to take an art class at Western Wyoming Community College. I watched Angie Bennett teach watercolor and I quickly learned to really like that medium. I’ve taken those classes off and on for about 15 years. I find the classroom atmosphere conducive to new ideas and creativity. Trying new subjects in class takes me out of my comfort zone, or else I’d still be painting flowers.”
Banks has also tried oils, pastel, charcoal, and pencil in high school, but prefers watercolor painting. “It’s clean, no odors, no mess, always ready to go, and totally easy to clean up. That’s what got me started with watercolor, but the longer I used it, the more pleased I was with its’ versatility and surprise effect. Washes and special effects are a delight to try.”
She goes on to explain, “For example, the ‘Sunspot’ picture was painted with only the primary colors, red, yellow and blue, and yet different colors are produced; and when you mix all three, you get black. The texture was produced by letting plastic wrap dry on wet paint. Another special effect that’s popular is applying salt to wet color such as in the ‘Spring Lilac’ picture. People think that once they make a brush stroke in watercolor, you can’t change it, – but that isn’t true. You work from light to dark instead of dark to light as in most other mediums, but like anything else, once you do it that way a few times, it begins to feel natural.”
Banks has also studied ink painting. By using a different style brush and unique techniques of holding the brush, the resulting work contrasts with Western style watercolor painting. Balance, rhythm and harmony are the qualities the artist strives for by developing patience, self-discipline and concentration. Two of Banks paintings are in the Chinese style: the “Wild Orchid”, in watercolor and the “Plum Blossom” with ink. The “Japanese Pine” is rendered in the Japanese “Sumi-e” ink style.
The artist has also entered pieces in the Sweetwater County Fair, the Wyoming Game and Fish Conservation Stamp competition, and several times at the Wind River Valley National Art Show in Dubois, WY, and a winter show at the Green River High School. I’ve also exhibited in different shows in the Sweetwater County Library System in Green River and Rock Springs for about six or seven years, and in the Community Fine Arts Center’s annual Community Show in Rock Springs.
By exhibiting her paintings, Banks is “stepping back and taking a look” at her progress and achievement over the years. She is pleased with the direction her artwork and especially the watercolor painting has been “so enjoyable.”
“It’s a nice hobby that completely absorbs my whole attention; and when I’m done, I have something lasting to admire. Exhibiting these watercolors gives others a chance to learn a little more about watercolor art and hopefully to enjoy the pictures I’ve painted.”
The Sweetwater County Library System encourages local and Wyoming artists to display their creative work at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs and the Sweetwater County Library in Green River. A committee of library staff and community volunteers meet to review applications of interested artists and to schedule community shows. Interested individuals are encouraged to pick up an application packet at any of the libraries or contact Debora Soule at the Community Fine Arts Center.
The public is invited to visit the Sweetwater County Library to see this exhibit and the White Mountain Library, currently exhibiting the Photo open exhibit, during the hours of Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday noon to 5 p.m.