Ellen Balka

Ellen Balka

Ellen Balka Artist artworks for sale

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  Artist: Ellen Balka
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Ellen Balka Artist Bio:

I am a photographer and print maker living and working in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, in western Canada. Artist's Statement In reflecting on the unique properties of photography Freeman Patterson points out that "when you start to make a photograph, you have an already-existing object in front of your lens." Painters start with an empty canvas"”they create. In contrast, photographers can choose their subject matter and vary their treatment of it, but nonetheless always confront some aspect of the physical world whose existence and character is independent of the photographer and their interpretation of it. Susan Sontag captured this idea when she wrote that "the painter constructs, the photographer discloses." Patterson suggests that while painters and sculptors can doodle or postpone, that photographers must respond to the world and act when the timing or the light are right, and in doing so, "making a photograph is the act of giving permanence to something transient." For me, making photographs demands an immediacy in engaging in the world, and this engagement, in turn, yields an intensity of experience and emotion. In my photographic work, I seek to give permanence to often fleeting motion while revealing emotion. My work, which is at times impressionistic and at times abstract, plays on themes of perceptual ambiguity while exploring colour. My aim is to convey something of the wonder, magic and intensity of the everyday world I see and experience to those who view my work. Using a variety of techniques such as making photographs at slow shutter speeds, panning the camera (both on and off of a tripod), increasing or decreasing the range of a zoom lens with an open shutter, making in camera multiple exposures or deliberately altering the focal point of a lens in relation to my subject, I intentionally make abstract photographs, often revealing a sense of movement. I enjoy exploring the limits of the still camera, and taking advantage of the unique properties of still cameras to create perceptual ambiguity. My engagement with my subjects"”most often, elements of nature"”is strongest when I am behind the camera. Hence in my photographic practice, most of my creative work is undertaken when I am behind the lens, rather than in front of the computer. My post-production activities are usually limited to making creative decisions about paper selection and image size when printing my work in house at my studio. Perhaps because many of my waking hours are spent in front of computers writing, and undoubtedly because I enjoy physical activity and being out of doors in the natural environment, I prefer the process of making photographs with the camera rather than altering images during post-production. I am inspired by the magic of the world around me, particularly elements of the natural environment, which frequently leave me in awe and evoke intense emotions. I am able to reveal the intensity of both the environment and the emotions it sometimes evokes when experimentation is combined with working at the intersection where the affordances of photographic technologies (e.g., the ability to freeze action or capture motion) and the optical and mechanical constraints of the medium (e.g., the challenges of shooting at low light from a moving car) meet. My photographic career began in a high school photography class where I learned the basics including darkroom skills, and I have been making photographs ever since. Although I primarily use digital cameras now, I still enjoy film cameras, especially experimentation with thrift store finds such as polaroids and various plastic cameras. Following the encouragement of friends, I began showing my work in galleries in Vancouver and Squamish British Columbia. Some commercial work I undertook resulted in publication of some of my photographs. I have studied with Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant (New Brunswick), and have taken courses at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in a range of areas such as post-production image processing for photographers, photo-based print making techniques, and courses about photographic and altered books. I am an active member of the Malaspina Printmakers Society, and belong to and participate in community based arts organizations in Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler B.C. Coming soon...