Jennifer Balkan, a full-time figurative painter in Austin, Texas, discusses transitioning into full-time painting, experiences with galleries, social media, looking out for yourself, and balancing painting life with family life. Balkan offers tips on pushing yourself to be your best, determining which galleries to work with, and working through grief. She stresses the importance of both working hard to learn the language of painting, and of playful riffs and exploration.
- Balkan attended graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in anthropological sociology, though she also took a few art classes in college.
- After visiting Europe and seeing masterpiece paintings in France, Italy, and Spain, Jennifer was moved to begin painting.
- Jennifer spent a month at Denver Art Students League, then, unhappy at work, she left her job in 2005 to paint full time.
- Balkan began working part time until her painting garnered notice, with the emotional and financial support of her husband.
- Social media makes sharing artwork easy, but also causes comparisons between artists. Balkan recommends focusing on why you started painting in the first place instead of giving in to comparisons.
- Jennifer recalls an elderly gentleman diagnosed with cancer and the time he spent in the hospital learning to paint, illustrating that it is never too late to do what inspires you.
- Looking back at her earlier work shows Jennifer how much she’s grown and reminds her to keep pushing herself.
- After a gallery closed down with her paintings still in it and without paying her, Jennifer is more reserved about which galleries she works with and recommends contacting other artists to ask them about their gallery experiences.
- Artists must be self-reliant, good business people, and must take care of themselves. Several sources of income are beneficial, such as teaching, taking commissions, and group shows.
- After a friend and fellow painter passed away from cancer, Jennifer continued to honor him in her own work.
- Parenthood forces artists to become more productive and disciplined. A balance of work life and family life is imperative.
- Jennifer is obsessed with the line between representationalism and abstraction, advocating artists to learn the language first, then riff in a way that makes sense.
- Disciplined practice beats talent. Artists must put in the time to practice their skills and learn the craft.
Miniatures Show at Abend Gallery in Denver (December 2016)
Institute of Classical Architecture and Art in San Antonio (December 2016)
Jennifer will be included the figurative photo essay in Jan/Feb collectors’ issue of Fine Art Connoisseur and the portrait photo essay in May/June collectors’ issue.