Joan Belmar originally became well known for his unique technique of 3-D painting. He combined his former painting and collage techniques with painted and untreated Mylar and acetate strips in circles and curvilinear shapes. He placed them perpendicular to a painted background and then covered them again (not always entirely) with a lightly frosted Mylar, acetate or vinyl. The effect was to produce changes in transparency as light and the viewer move in relation to the work.  

His latest series of paintings is two-dimensional and it explores the psychological and cultural divisions that so affect the way we see the world around us.  He was drawn to maps, especially as he researched the Selknam people, who inhabited the southern region of his native Chile and who were exterminated in the last century.  In the maps, he encountered symbols, colors, drawings, grids, dots and lines. Accordingly, in the “Territories” series, he created certain structures, but then he let the organic qualities of the acrylics, gouache and ink mix and move spontaneously on the canvas or paper. Metaphorically, they are in search of freedom in a structured world.

He was a Mayor's Award Finalist in 2007 as an outstanding emerging artist in Washington, D.C.  The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded him an artist fellowship grant in 2009, and in 2011, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County gave him an Individual Artist Grant. The Maryland Arts Council awarded Belmar Individual Artist grants in Visual Arts: Painting, in 2010 and 2013.