"I am" oil on aluminum panel, 36"x24"
Jennifer Balkan grew up in New Jersey but has now been living in Austin, Texas for over half her life. Though she had drawn all her life, she started oil painting after studying neuroscience and later sociology. She currently paints in her studio and teaches figurative and portrait painting to small private groups. Her work has been exhibited across the United States and in Europe and has been featured in a number of national and international art publications. Her portraits have received awards by the Portrait Society of America. She was named “Best Visual Artist of 2015” by the Austin Chronicle’s Readers’ Poll. In 2016, Jennifer was invited by the Academy of Realist Art in Boston to participate in their figure painting competition. In 2017, she was included in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine’s photo essay on leading contemporary figurative painters. When not painting, she is adventuring through life with her son Karlo and husband Jeff either on bicycle or unicycle.
My paintings are emotionally-based psychological narratives where the details lie in planes of color. I choose to exaggerate color, in a sense break up a color field into its constituent colors, directing the viewer to particular areas by applying juicy bits of heavily saturated color. I strive to capture emotional states more than anything else, purposefully laying strokes down to create the illusion of an outer physical topography that houses an inner one of the soul. Though it is a cerebral concept that motivates me, the process of painting is superior to all else. Once I begin a painting, my interaction with the panel takes on a life of its own; it transcends whatever I can actually say about the painting once it is finished. Like some kind of meditation, I always hope to remain in this state during the entirety of my painting experience though life's chatter gets in the way at times. When I can exist in that sweet place for much of the time when I am painting, I can say that my work is honest.