Jennifer Balkan


When I paint, 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.   I see my paintings as psychological narratives.  And the technique I employ is a significant aspect in expressing these thoughts.  

My discrete patches of paint in composite articulate form.  As each one turns over the form, it cools off in temperature.   Subtle changes in color planes are no longer identifiable or labelable.  The subtle and not so subtle adjustments in chroma, value and temperature describe nature or my reality.  And as I lay each patch down, I’m conscious of keeping the integrity of those strokes.  I want that each swath may carry its own weight yet be abstract on its own.  Yet the sum of all these parts make up the whole.  The sum is indeed greater than its parts.  But I want that the parts be known and be observed by themselves and feel giddy that they will be be joined together or merge by our visual cortex.  Our brains are literally working a little bit harder to make visual sense of these kinds of pictures,, those depicting reality in a slightly more abstract way, putting together these visual puzzles as currently studied in the research field of neuroaesthetics.  

Some of the challenge I experience as trying to bring life into these very intentionally juxtaposed planes of paint I always hope is matched by the perceptual experience of the viewer.  And as I adjust and adjust and adjust, I have to sometimes so it seems arbitrarily decide that I am finished.  At some point, I decide that *that* plane does not need to be broken up. And I imagine as I am painting that the viewer can feel the thought behind each move…..and see some of the process behind the painting.  As I lay my paint down, I am hoping that each mark describes not only the outermost layer but reveals something underneath our skin.  We humans are full of emotion and even on our brightest of days, we are sensitive and vulnerable.   I want to bring life to my canvas.  And from there, the viewer’s perception plus life experience provides connection and interpretation.   And the circle is complete.  

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.