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Elaine Bankston Flight Attendant and Artist

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

I feel I have had a very interesting career as both an artist and flight attendant. I was born with a pencil in one hand and a crayon in the other. I remember sitting in first grade drawing pictures of pretty ladies and I also remember in my wooden box with shingles tacked on for my wings dreaming of faraway places. My parochial school did not have art classes but always asked me to do the art. Then in 1968 my dream to become a F/A became true when I was hired with Eastern Airlines. My first pleasure trip out of the country this little farm girl from Missouri went Around the World. EAL afforded me the opportunity to visit the famous museums around the world and standing in front of the Mona Lisa. I was determined and at 27 I began to studying art under some private instructors in ATL and NYC. Some were the best-known portrait artists in the country. I was a flight attendant for 22 years and I met many famous people. When Jimmy Carter was Governor of GA and campaigning for president, I had the opportunity to sit down beside him and have a conversation. I also remember meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Shortly thereafter I did a painting of the old Atlanta airport which won numerous ribbons. I was honored to present one of these prints to Frank Borman, Apollo 8 astronaut who orbited the moon and President of EAL. My prints are in many public and private collections including the Jimmy Carter Museum and 9 other museums. Eastern Airlines asked me to do publicity, sending me to greet celebrities at many events including the Grand Opening of Disney World, modeling uniforms, and representing EALA at all their sponsored golf tournaments. After EAL went out of business I flew with USAir for only 9 months and on 9/11 was in the air over NY. But that's another whole story! I was a flight attendant for a private jet company Millionaire for 5 years after that. On one of those flights, I served Mikhail Gorbachev a high-ranking Russian politician.

I have painted over 1000 commissioned portraits some of notable doctors and judges. I think most interestingly is the oil portrait of Oliver W. Hill, Sr. He was one of the lead attorneys in Brown vs Board of Education. He sat live for me and I was honored to go to his 100th birthday party. I have done four portraits of Oliver Hill. The first was commissioned by the Law Library at UR (currently on loan to the Governor's Mansion). and the other in the courthouse bearing his name in Richmond, another in the Roanoke Justice Center renamed in his honor and recently installed in the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. On November 20, 2022, Oliver Hill's portrait was unveiled and installed in the Moton Museum in Farmville. On December 8, 2022, another Oliver Hill portrait was installed in the Library of Virginia. On December 14, 2022, I was invited to art experience at the Governor's Mansion and later invited to a cocktail party to be recognized with other artists selected by the top museums in Virginia.

I have won numerous ribbons but the one ribbon I like the most is the "Gusty Award" because I displayed many different styles, mediums and subject matter. I have taught in both public and private school, art institutions, but one of the classes I like the most is where I volunteer at the Pocahontas Womens Prison. Now I also teach Art on Cruise ships around the world which brings my countries visited up to the count of 60. I thank God for the talent He has given me and all the blessings He has bestowed on me. My studio is located in my home in Midlothian, VA. You can view my work on my website or on Facebook under Elaine Bankston Art Gallery or email me at

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