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BIOGRAPHY - Holly Hope Banks B. 1957

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“Art is a creative way to express your opinion of the world around you. I like the language of art…it is visual, full of challenges. I like the fact that it is a solitary profession, dependent only on yourself, and once you have created, you can separate yourself from it--not like music, where you have an audience in the moment of expression.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1957, Holly Hope Banks spent her childhood in a countryside setting surrounding her family’s home in northern Ohio. The young artist was fascinated with the natural world around her and was constantly drawing images based on her observations. Despite her early aptitude for visual art, her college years at the University of Toledo were initially filled with uncertainty about what course of study she should pursue until she took an “interest test” that revealed her unmistakable preference for the arts. Encouraged by the results, Banks took her first art class, and found that it was exactly what she wanted to do.

The art department at the University of Toledo was based at the nearby Toledo Museum of Art, which had a comprehensive collection of paintings from early Renaissance to 19th century eras. There, Banks was able to study examples of painting from these historical periods.

Banks’ college years were both challenging and productive. She was unswerving to her goals by working full-time in order to pay her tuition and living expenses, and went to school full time as well. In 1981 she graduated with a major in painting from the University of Toledo; and a year later, she was working as a registered copyist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The move to Washington, D.C. was in part a decision to further her study of painting in an environment rich with art museums and diverse collections. As a copyist at the National Gallery, Banks organized her work according to what she wanted to study at any particular time; for example, her exploration of how to paint skin tones led her to copy an image by the French baroque artist Simon Vouet (1590-1649); his masterpiece, St Jerome and the Angel cir.1620s.

Banks remained in Washington, D.C. until 1986 when she moved to Florida in order to be in a tropical climate. She continued to paint regularly, and to seek additional training. As she remarks, “I knew I needed more in-depth training and I was trying to find teachers to learn how to paint that higher caliber of the 19th C painters." Her initial thoughts were to pursue a Master’s degree while in Florida Then in 1993, she noticed a newspaper article announcing the formation of a new art studio, the Atelier of Plein-Air Studies, which offered training in the classical painting tradition originally developed by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and tenants of the Boston school tradition through R H Ives Gammell, artists with whom she had some knowledge. After meeting with the Atelier’s founder, Allan Banks (whom she would marry in 1997), she knew Atelier training was the right course of action. Remembering this experience, she comments, “I had to throw everything I had learned out the window and start over. It was a challenging, but very exciting time for me”

Three years later, her studies at the Atelier were completed, and her exposure to the art world, both historical and contemporary, was about to expand dramatically. Trips to England and France in 1994 and 1995 provided not only an opportunity to see nineteenth century British and French painters that she admired, but also demonstrated a new-found confidence in her ability to study and learn from past masters. In 1996 she was one of five artists chosen to be part of a cultural exchange with the newly independent Russian Federation, an unprecedented chance to work and live with the Union of Russian Artists in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

By the late 1990s, Banks had a well established reputation as a realist painter. American Artist magazine identified her as one of ten prominent emerging artists in 1998, and she had won the Renee & Stephen McNeely Award for Best Representational Oil at the Audubon Artists 56th Annual Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in New York. Since then, she has received two additional awards at the annual exhibition of the Audubon Artists, in 1999 and 2004, as well as multiple awards from the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club in 2004, 2009 and 2011. Her work has also been included in exhibitions in 2000, 2001, and 2011 in the Butler Institute of American Art. The highlight of her career and achievements was to have her work purchased by the Butler Institute of American Art in 2011, a pastel portrait of her mother as part of their permanent collection. In 2001, Banks ventured into writing about her process of creating imaginative paintings in a 2001 article for American Artist entitled “An Artistic Imagination”.

Banks’ recent work increasingly focuses on technical mastery of painting, imaginative subjects with multiple figures in the composition as well as a strong emphasis on storytelling. Evermore looking to the natural world that fascinated her as a young artist remains a consistent aspect of her painting, evolving with each new phase of development the time tested craftsmanship of genuine picture-making.

Janet Whitmore, Ph.D.

Sold Works
holly_banks_hb1041_roses_and_a_double_hollyhock_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Roses and a Double Hollyhock
Oil on canvas
17 x 18 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1043_heading_home_to_roost_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Heading Home to Roost
Oil on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1040_april_flowers_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
April Flowers
Oil on canvas
30 x 36 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1006_plums_pears_and_carnations_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Plums, Pears and Carnations
Oil on canvas
10 x 14 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1035_summer_bouquet_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Summer Bouquet
Oil on canvas
29 x 23 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1032_yellow_and_pink_roses_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Yellow & Pink Roses
Oil on canvas
10 x 8 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1031_flowers_and_crabapples_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Flowers with Crabapples
Oil on canvas
10 x 8 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1029_flowers_with_a_lady_apple_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Flowers with a Lady Apple
Oil on canvas
10 x 8 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1030_pansies_and_lavender_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Pansies & Lavender
Oil on canvas
10 x 8 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1027_new_dawn_and_butterfly_roses_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
New Dawn & Butterfly Roses
Oil on canvas
10 x 8 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1025_a_myriad_of_blooms_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
A Myriad of Blooms
Oil on canvas
30 x 25 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1023_in_full_bloom_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
In Full Bloom
Oil on canvas
14 x 13 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1022_pink_peonies_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Pink Peonies
Oil on canvas
20 x 16 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1020_peonies_and_fruit_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Peonies and Fruit
Oil on canvas
30 x 25 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1021_peonies_in_a_vase_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Peonies in a Vase
Oil on canvas
12 x 14 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1015_pink_and_yellow_roses_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Pink and Yellow Roses
Oil on canvas
13 x 14 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1008_new_dawn_roses_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
New Dawn Roses
Oil on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1005_onions_and_garlic_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Onions and Garlic
Oil on canvas
12 x 16 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1007_dianthus_and_roses_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Dianthus and Roses
Oil on canvas
14 x 11 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1004_plums_pluots_and_dutch_tulips_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Plums, Pluots and Dutch Tulips
Oil on canvas
18 x 26 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1001_peonies_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Peonies
Oil on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Signed
holly_banks_hb1000_roses_and_white_peaches_wm_small.jpg
Holly Hope Banks
B. 1957
Roses and White Peaches
Oil on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Signed