Jennifer Bilek is a contemporary American painter. Born and raised in New York City, Jennifer has honed her skills as a painter for over 35 years. Her talent for portraiture emerged early. At 5 years old, she would go through her coloring books and color all of the faces first, finding in that process an avenue to focus that created a balance and radiating joy within.
At 13 years old Jennifer created her first oil portrait. By the age of 27, her skill culminated in the creation of a unique studio/gallery in the Hudson Valley, with many rotating exhibitions of her portraiture that welcomed spectator involvement.
Jennifer studied formally with Vladimir Bachinsky, after receiving a two-year scholarship (1981-1983) to study fine oil portraiture at the Woodstock School of Art. She also studied with acclaimed portrait painter Daniel Greene in 1989. From 1984-91 she painted 17 portraits of nationally renowned performance artist, Linda Montano, in a collaborative project involving the seven chakras of the human spine. Using colors relating to each chakra, Jennifer painted serial portraits of Linda during the seven years of Linda’s performance. This effort manifested a dual expression, one serializing Linda’s performance and another creating Jennifer’s own expression. Using repetitive portraits of one person, rendered consecutively within a specific time frame, Jennifer created a new performance piece. This performance changed the direction of her work. Jennifer’s portraits became fearless explorations of color and medium, as well as bold, honest renditions of her subjects.
Jennifer has exhibited throughout the Hudson Valley of NY, as well as the American Artists Professional League at the Salmagundi Club and Greenpoint Galleries in New York City.
She is the winner of myriad art competitions for her portrait work and has been included in various art magazines, including Art Quench, Artists Portfolio and High Impact.
Jennifer’s unusual eclectic program of study over the years, aimed at honing her natural skills as a portrait artist, has provided her with a uniquely versatile style in rendering work for her clients. She is adept at producing portraits that are realistic, formal, and conventional as well as those that are more of a representative, and illustrative nature.
Jennifer’s paintings are an explosion of perception rendered in physical form and color, intensely honest, and fiercely passionate. Most of her paintings are a part of private collections across the United States and Europe.
I create my portraits on stretched Belgian linen or stretched, high quality cotton canvas, using Sennelier oil paints, distilled turpentine, and polymerized linseed oil. I use a combination of brushes to achieve different effects and to complete different areas of an oil portrait. These brushes include: Bristle and sable brushes in varying shapes and sizes, i.e.; brites (short with chiseled edge), flats (longer with chiseled edge), rounds (rounded edge), filberts (tapered to a point), and fans (fan shaped for blending).
When completing a portrait of an adult, I prefer to work from live sittings in combination with photographs and sketches that I execute myself. When my subject is a child, I do not consider live sittings to be a workable method of creating a portrait. I then take extensive photographs of my subject. This insures my capacity to infuse the portrait with the child’s mannerisms, emotions, and characteristics, as well as capturing their features, as opposed to simply duplicating one photograph.
I employ a method of painting that I learned from Daniel Greene, a renowned American portrait painter. This method concisely breaks down the fundamentals of portrait painting, creating a technique that is fluid, comprehensive, and easily adapted to each artist’s individual style. Since I have several styles in which I create my portraits, this method serves to enhance my own innate capacity to capture the human face/form in the construction of oil portraiture.
Pastel Portraits are created on the finest pastel papers. I use Sennelier Soft Pastels, along with Rembrandt and Schmincke brands.
My nude paintings are executed with the use of various size palette knives which give the paintings extreme texture, along with different brushes.