Artist Blog


In spring of 2020, right as the Coronavirus / Covid-19 pandemic was shutting down the world, I began work on what became this series of paintings. The more I worked, the more I thought I was painting "company" -- visitors we were not allowed in lockdown in many states, but with social distancing neither required nor desired. Here are studio groups as the work goes along, some getting "finished" before others, while I try and figure out what they are all about. They are all brush-drawn India ink and watercolor on 30x22" Arches paper. What appear to be borders around each piece are the backing boards I work on. Farther down a grid of the full series is being posted, with continual updates.

(September 20, 2020)


Click here for FULL SERIES GRID -- 125 images (and counting).
or scroll down to bottom of page





(Full Series farther below)



Jack Balas, 2020; BOX OF BOOKS (#1932); India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

Louis came by the other day to help me carry a box of books over to his house, children's books I had growing up and now his wife was maybe going to put some into her paintings. His backyard is waist-high in purple wildflowers, and as we crossed it he said something about the seeds that I missed. We left the books by Zoa's studio, but when I got home I realized I have the same wildflowers on the kitchen table, and I ran my hand over it and felt all the seeds, tiny gritty grains of sand. I pulled a book off a shelf nearby, opened it, sprinkled seeds between some pages, and put it back to wait.




Jack Balas, 2020; FLYING THE FLAG (#1937); India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

Flying the flag was important to me growing up. I had a pole in the yard, and on holidays I would walk the neighborhood keeping track of who was flying it too, tallying results in what I called "surveys" (the day's weather too). I came across one the other day, and will say that all these years later I still notice when I see someone with a flag, but really in a very different way.





Jack Balas, 2020; THE PRUDENTIAL BUILDING (#1953); India ink and acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches.

The Prudential Building was the tallest building in Chicago the year my 4th grade class took a field trip to downtown. I'd never been in a plane before, and it would be years until, but there from the 42nd floor I could see all over the city and even all the way across Lake Michigan, the shoreline, everything. I was smitten. These days when I visit there are buildings way taller, but the Prudential Building, with the Rock of Gibralter on its face- I go in and try to see across to 1964 and me.




Presented in order (numbered) as they were begun. All pieces are dated 2020, India ink and acrylic on Arches paper, 30x22 inches or 22x30 inches. Click on each image for an enlargement.
(A few works are yet to be finished.)


1882   Swirl

1884   a Head

1891   the Talk



1893   Lester Street


1894   Black Yard


1895   Guy'd



1897 Hunter (Thinking of Winslow and those Adirondacks


1898   Poetry (O Try)

1899   Lieutenant


1900 Minotaur
Private Collection


1902 The Met (MUSE-MUSEUM series)



1903 Backwater


1904 Frame Fame


1905 The Net



1906 Cairn


1907 Guard

1908 And to All a Good Night (Friday)




When It's Time to Write Your Story,
This Will Be the Cover



1910 First Mate



1911  Growl


1912 Woman with Stars and Fireflies


1913   The Count



1914 Harbinger (Igloo)


1915 Fin


1916 Company



1917 Cat


1918 Black Sun


1919 Game's Up


1920 Graduation

1922 Wish You Were Here (wrestler)

1923  The Late Hour


1924  Home Land: The Javier


1925   Hoops


1926  Home Land: The Ernesto


1927 Backyard


1929 Rain Down On Me



1930 Siren


1931   No Words Work


1932  Box of Books


1933   Dog (The Vastness...)


1934   Flag Dayze


1935   We The People



1936   Permission

1937 Flying the Flag


1938 Roil



1939   First Day of Summer



1940 To Be Continued?


1941  Discover America

This Road Does Not End

1943   Out


1944 (Not Yet Titled): Tiger


1945 That Youth Hostel in Canada


1946 Preface


1947 Ship to Shore

1948 The Pedestal

1949    Home Land-- The Tom


1950   Home Land: The Shane

1951  Home Land: The Dave



1952  Home Land: The Kenny


1953  The Prudential Building


1954   Roll



1955   Promises, Promises


1956 Swath

1957 As The Clock Ticks



1958 Gumball Chute


 1959 Blackout 1



1960 Blackout 2


1961 Campout


1963 Eminent Domain



1964 The Long View


1965 Summit


1966 Ladscape



1967 The Wave


1968 This Rich Narrative


1969 Poets Will Be Named
Private Collection


1970 Bull's Eye

1971 Roofline


1972 Merit Badge

1973 Birthday Boy


1974 Study, Eakins Swimming Hole



1975 Floor of Sky


1976 Refill


1977 Portage


1978 Now Open


1979 Some Other Time



1980 Mario


1981 Treasury
(War Memorial, Honolulu)


1982 Homecoming


1983 September Morn

1984 Moby Dick

1985 Young Man in an Old Story


1986 Able Baker

1987 At the Center of All Beauty

1988 Theme Song


1989 Message



1990 All Day, All Dave



1992 Letters From Honolulu


1993 Hints of Defiance


1994 Bricklayer



1995 Percolate


1996 LittleLeague


1998 Same Boat, Same Guys


1999 Open Book



2000 Great Wave Off Waikiki
Private Collection



   2001 My Book


   2002 Election Day 2020

(In progress)


   2004 Every Word, Every Letter (2)


   2005 Siempre

2006 Looking Back



2007 We Play With Abstraction Every Day


   2008 Pilot


   2009 Holy Land



2010 I'm Possible


2011 Antarctica



2012 Let's Drop In
Private Collection


2018 Cat (Dog)


2019 Dog (Cat)



2020 Twenty-Twenty (Sprue)


2021 Twenty-Twenty-One (Next Year)



2022 The Uncertainty of the Poet


2024 I Still Love Horses


2025 Catch
(But the story is the one that got away...)



2026 Some Happy Arms

2027 In Progress

2028 The Silver Lining


2029 Next Year In Jerusalem


2030 Summer Count (Study 1)






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PAINTINGS 2017-2019