Emerging Artist | Jennifer Balkan

Self-Portrait, Distracted by Jennifer Balkan

By Julie Osterman

To Jennifer Balkan, the atmosphere of a painting is as important as its subject matter. “My intent is to create a sense of movement and life on the canvas,” explains the 34-year-old Texas-based artist. Her narrative oil paintings are inspired by everything from storybook characters to circus performers to thrift-store finds: Her In Transit series is based on a piece of pink luggage she acquired last year, and lately she’s been painting well-loved doll heads and body parts, among other things.

Although she’s had an interest in drawing and painting since she was a young girl, Balkan majored in psychology in college and earned a doctorate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2001. After graduation, she traveled for a month in Europe, where her passion for art was reignited. She soon enrolled in courses at several Texas art schools, and later the Art Students League of Denver, and began painting feverishly—staying up nights while working full time as a demographer.

Balkan quit her day job in 2002 and has focused on her fine-art career ever since. “From this point forward, I’m interested in trying to work from life—getting models to sit for me and creating pyschological dramas,” she says. Balkan’s work hangs in a group show at Bella Creo Gallery in Boerne, TX, this month. She is also represented by f8 Fine Art, Austin, TX, and www.jenniferbalkan.net.

Featured in “Artists to Watch” December 2005