The Three Hares

25 Apr

may that which is unified and whole

find its expression in you

 

may all things coming in and out of being

be encouraged by your presence

 

may you be a source of blessing

for all that is unfolding and awakening around you

 

may you find yourself as the center of a vast circle of light

recognizing no distance or barrier

 

may the eternal dance resonate in your holy body

as your voice fills the longing of the universe

 

~janet balboa 

 

 

A blessing for the stranger

22 Apr

The first step in awakening to your inner life and to the depth and promise of your solitude would be to consider yourself for a little while as a stranger to your own deepest depths.

To decide to view yourself as a complete stranger, someone who has just stepped ashore in your life is a liberating exercise.

This meditation helps to break the numbing stranglehold of complacency and familiarity.

Gradually, you begin to sense the mystery and magic of yourself.

You realize that you are not the helpless owner of a deadened life but rather a temporary guest gifted with blessings and possibilities you could neither invent nor earn.

~JOHN O’DONOHUE

 

Dali!

20 Apr

When The Muse takes over. It is on Her terms for sure. Needed to do a portrait for Creative Arts Art Show. Who better than Dali!?
Didn’t anticipate staying up until midnight to get this painted. It’s acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12. I haven’t painted for years. And yet…here he is.

For me, Dali is a great example of living into the Soul, those daring and beautiful and fully expressed humans who place the seriousness of the Soul over any personal agenda. I think in handing over the reins, they agree to life as an adventure, as a calling – and they, (as a personality) try to stay out of the way. Which is a paradox in itself…

They know the game involves saying ‘yes’, it really is the first rule of Life, as well as of improv.  Ask any comedian, saying yes allows the show to go on, saying ‘no’ in an improv performance-  watch the action fizzle out.

My message from Dali, as I spent time with him over the evening, was to be braver. To listen to my heart, my Muse, the Soul, that very often has an entirely different agenda than I do. And what’s wrong with that? Don’t I long for newness, the experience of being alive? Something that challenges and excited me? Hell yah. C,mon, who doesn’t want to be a daring and beautiful and fully expressed human?
Damn those torpedoes already

I’ve put Phillipe Halsman’s original title from the photograph he took of Dali, and popped it on my print with a funky retro font.  If you’d like a signed print (Dali is no longer signing) I will be happy to sign and mail it to you. $25 shipping included. It’s 11×14 on heavy stock.
Send me your address and I can send you over an invoice. janet@janetbalboa.com

Look Ma! I’m Famous!

22 Mar

Just published in a Chicago Magazine! Cool beans.

Meet Janet Balboa in North West Chicago

VOYAGECHICAGO STAFF

 

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janet Balboa.

Janet, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I was seven, I watched my mom wallpaper my room. She covered the walls with lovely little Laura Ashley roses. Within days I had filled in quite a lot of the spaces between the delicate pink roses with dark green lily pads and bright green frogs. My mom was devastated. I felt like mini Michelangelo. What do you do with that?

I drew everywhere, on everything. My mom and grandma constantly read to me and my younger brother, filling our childhood with Raggedy Ann and Andy, fairy tales, stories of ancient forests, knights, ladies and adventure. It was incredibly rich fodder for our imaginations. My dad had a workshop in our basement- we spent hours building model trains, WWII planes, dollhouse furniture – I still have the scar in my thigh where the Exacto knife I dropped embedded itself ($100 if you don’t tell your mother…). I bought my first set of Prisma color pencils with that money.

My dad’s passionate attempt to save an ancient oak stand from developers meant that I spent a great deal of time wandering around in forest preserves as a kid. The profound stillness and the seasonal rhythms of the forest floor filled me with a deep sense of wonder. I sensed my belonging and inclusion in everything around me.

My work today is an expression of my seeing that every life, all life, reveals the interconnectedness, beauty and mystery that is the ground of our being. We all belong to each other and to our beautiful planet. This implies a sense of responsibility and caring for each other and our Earth. My heart and hands communicate this inherent community through the bright colors of markers and colored pencils.

Has it been a smooth road?
As a kid I just knew what I loved. I didn’t feel a need to be anything other than who I was, but I was acutely aware that I didn’t fit in at all. I was not a ‘normal’ kid. All I wanted was my solitude and some pencils. I didn’t know what to do with myself – being ‘an artist’ wasn’t seen as a viable career path. You know, get a real job, all that pressure… I wandered around for many years trying to figure out ‘what I should be when I grew up’. It took me a long, long time to accept that all I had to do was keep walking and my path would just keep unfolding.

It’s funny how life works these things out, as I look back, I was in exactly the right place at the right time to acquire the skillset I needed for the life I have now. I studied in Kansas City, lived in England, traveled, raised wonderful kids, learned to cook, sailed, suffered many dark nights of the Soul, got famous with a line of greeting cards, was told I would be the next Mary Englebreit. Years of worry, disillusionment, accomplishments, failure, success – coalesced suddenly and became the shape of my current life.

Was my life smooth? No- but if it had been without difficulty, I doubt I would have grown as much or have opened to so many different perspectives. I have a lot of compassion for my younger students, I see them struggling to become themselves in a society that judges them harshly. They too realize that they just don’t fit in in the same way other kids do. It’s tough. Sometimes they just get sucked under. I think any positive form of self-expression can help pull them through. When you have a craft, something that is yours, it can sustain you. I know a lot of artists and poets who will readily admit that their talent has become their blessing instead of a curse. The trick is to realize that your belonging, your worth, wells up from within, and how you choose to express that becomes your unique gift to the world.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Janet Balboa story. Tell us more about the business.
I work in colored pencil and markers. I start with a sketch where I try to express what I hold in my imagination. Most pictures work themselves out along the way. Isn’t that why it’s called ‘art ‘work’? It is work to pull it down; to bring something imagined into reality.

In my current work in progress, Mary Magdalene, I initially envisioned her with a very busy Celtic knot background. As I work on her, and she becomes more real to me, I find the background disappearing completely. It’s become irrelevant. So, there is this conversation, this back and forth that happens when I create. I call this presence The Muse; the soul that playfully participates with me.

I see this with my students as well. The relationship that develops when you are creating work, whether a painting or a cathedral, is always teamwork. You, the creator, show up with a skillset, and ideally, you also create an environment, an attitude, where The Muse can’t help but be present. Your job is to show up at the drawing board. Her job is to inspire you. When this relationship is cultivated, something can happen.

I’m really invested with helping others realize this dynamic flow where life can suddenly become art. I work with Andreas Mannal from Wisdom Point, teaching workshops and seminars designed to reveal the unique masterpiece that each one of us is creating through the ups and downs of our daily life. We are working with what we call the Soul Navigator. It is a beautiful tool for understanding and relating to the Sacred, opening a space for allowing, connecting, and exploring the capacities we have as human beings. We’ve done several workshops already and I’m amazed by the sea changes that are happening in my life as well as those who have attended. In our hearts, we all know that we have everything we need inside us. It’s all about what you put your attention on.

Is everything forever rosy? No. But paying attention to the presence of the Soul opens out a space where things aren’t so crowded together. The sense of overwhelm is gone because there is room to breathe, time to heal and more clarity than panic. Life becomes a meaningful work in progress.

There is nothing more beautiful than looking into the eyes of another person and seeing light and life there. Too often the windows to our Soul appear dull because we have lost sight of our own beauty. When the vision of our true self is restored, we can begin to consciously create a masterpiece; the work of our lifetime.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?

Traditionally it has been the artists and poets who have helped society reveal its highest truths and its most devastating lows. We need the clear vision provided by those who have cultivated their creative imagination. Can we see a world vision that honors cooperation, relationship and the sacredness of all life? As in each individual life, so it is for humanity. There are no wasted steps, no wasted moments. Everything matters. Everything is connected. For me it took some personal tragedies to see this, and the perspective that comes with getting older. It really is all about love. I love myself deeply, and that allows me to love others deeply. It’s hard learning to love yourself. To care for yourself. Love is the thread that weaves us into the tapestry of life. Without it, we have those lifeless eyes. With it, we become essentially, deliciously ourselves. I think our future depends on each one of us taking responsibility for our thoughts words and actions. We are all creators. If we create with love, well, I think the world would be lovely.

Contact Info:

 

Mary: work in progress

22 Feb

Art and Eternity

20 Feb

 

My friend Linda tells me that there is a palpable feeling that exists around the works of the old masters. She says standing in front of a Caravaggio she felt a presence, a feeling. Another friend gets the shivers from Gustav Klimt’s, The Kiss. How is this possible? Is it the recognition of a perfect composition? The exact placement of paint on a flat surface that gets us? After all, it is just paint, a surface and light that gives us the experience. The painter is long gone. Or is s/he?

Does something of the painter stay after all?

In an article in the Kyoto Journal, Gunter Nitschke speaks to Ma, the Japanese concept of Place. In a beautifully written article, he opens up an understanding of place that is missing in western thought. The idea that place is not just about architecture or forms, but is inseparable from the potential relationships, feelings, intuitions that might happen in the space. Place is a combination of structure and the opening the structure creates. It is an ebb and a flow. It is as much about what happens in the space as in the space itself. It is about time, space, fullness, emptiness, potential.

When Ma is consciously included, it can become a unifying bond between the creator and the viewer. Ma is inclusive, relational. What is created is created to include the viewer. The viewer is seen as part of the creation itself. To me this is magical and wonderful. It also puts a responsibility on me as the viewer. Rather than just being careless and unconscious in my experiencing, I am called to participate. To be present to my experience. ‘Toko-no-ma’ is a display alcove in the traditional Japanese sitting room. In it is a floral arrangement or object of beauty, arranged by the host. This action of creation on the part of the host becomes a unifying force, an active thing – when it is met with an act of appreciation on the part of the guest.

Participation. Relationship. A feeling-state.The original character for Ma was composed of the ideogram for moon, 月, under the sign for gate 門. Closing my eyes, I am transported to an unspecified evening,  the sight of moonlight framed, enclosed, held by a garden gate.  I feel, in my imagination, that transaction that happens when objective facts, a gate and moonlight, magically become something far more, through my conscious observation. I participate with the gate when I add my feelings and life experience – ‘I’ flow in along with the moonlight.

The character for the moon is open at the bottom – 月. My mind wants to close it – to finish the pattern, so as to not leave it broken, hanging open. In a way it becomes the gate that allows me to enter into the space, to merge with it, and in this way become more than either human or gate. I think this is the relationship between creator and viewer. The artist creates the gate, the structure, existing in time, that provides an opening for our timeless experience to flow into. We transcend ourselves and for a moment, participate in eternity.

Monet refuses the operation

26 Sep

Doctor, you say there are no halos 

around the streetlights in Paris 

and what I see is an aberration 

caused by old age, an affliction. 

I tell you it has taken me all my life 

to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels, 

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see, 

to learn that the line I called the horizon 

does not exist and sky and water, 

so long apart, are the same state of being. 

Fifty-four years before I could see 

Rouen cathedral is built 

of parallel shafts of sun, 

and now you want to restore 

my youthful errors:  fixed 

notions of top and bottom,  

the illusion of three-dimensional space,  

wisteria separate  

from the bridge it covers.  

What can I say to convince you  

the houses of Parliament dissolve  

night after night to become  

the fluid dream of the Thames? 

I will not return to a universe  

of objects that don’t know each other,   

as if islands were not the lost children  

of one great continent. The world  

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,  

becomes water, lilies on water,  

above and below water,  

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow 

and white and cerulean lamps,  

small fists passing sunlight  

so quickly to one another 

that it would take long, streaming hair 

inside my brush to catch it. 

To paint the speed of light! 

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,  

burn to mix with air  

and change our bones, skin, clothes   

to gases. Doctor,  

if only you could see  

how heaven pulls earth into its arms  

and how infinitely the heart expands  

to claim this world, blue vapor without end. 

Lisel Mueller  

Image

We are them.

24 Sep

The Moon Cycle. A gentler way of being

20 Sep

Here’s my contribution to the New Moon. I wanted something simple I could follow to help get back into a circular conception of time, balancing the usual linear timeline with something more organic. I couldn’t find anything – so I created it. Feel free to copy and print it- that’s what I’m doing with it. Carrying it as a reminder that there is a gentler way of being.

When Life happens – and a nod to Pope Joan.

6 Sep

The worst sin is ingratitude, which is a forgetting of the greatness, beauty, truth and goodness of the Source that is constantly creating us – in other terms, a forsaking of Being, and the Good.

My favorite Leloup quote today, from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

Today I had my day all planned out, my hours spoken for, so I sat down to my desk to focus on the geometries of the Josephine knot. Which I still haven’t grasped. I found a vesica, but that is a story for another day.

I was deeply in my head, probably frowning with confusion,  when all this carefully arranged bliss was loudly interrupted by Rosie, next door’s 11 week old beagle, escaping her yard,  Ellen and I chasing around like crazy people trying to corner her. Eventually, Rosie was found, the escape route blocked up, and I returned to the drawing table, my perspective blown wide open.

And this leads me to the legend of Pope Joan.  And really, just how often do things lead you there? Well, once upon a time (during the early Middle Ages to be precise), it is told that a woman, disguised as a man, rose through the church hierarchy and was eventually elected Pope. Life went along smoothly, more or less, until during one particularly solemn processional,  all hell broke loose as the Pope went into labor and produced a child on the spot. Whoops.

Forget wasting time arguing whether it’s true or just another urban legend. That’s not the point. It’s never the point.

For me, today, Joan happily reminded me that even with the best laid plans, the most carefully arranged rituals, Life still happens, unplanned, unannounced, unexpected and often showing up at the most inconvenient time.

When the Divine came crashing into my carefully constructed schedule,  disguised as an exuberant beagle wanting to play, I had the opportunity to allow everything-as-it-was to become Life-Happening-In-This-Moment. My attention, my intention, my blood, my body, unified in a way my habitual/’usual’ self has never been fully conscious of before; opening me to an idea of another way of being fully present. It’s like a huge breath of fresh air expanded into my complacent habits, my structured ideas of how things ‘should’ be and reminded me again, that I am alive.

So now when I am here typing, I am also being aware of being alive. Of being animated by a Mystery I will never understand, flowing through me with an agenda that I can only guess at, holding me closely in gratitude and delight.

The take away for me?

Life is not meant to be ‘convenient’, bent and warped to suit us and our crazy made-up lives.

Life is meant to be lived, to be wondered at, to be expressed through us. To be experienced consciously, as a tremendous gift. Life holds us tightly so that we may live wide open, allowing it to flow through us unrestricted, out into the world.

sketch for mary magdalene

 

 

sketches for mary magdalene

Research for Mary Magdalene

30 Aug

mary magdalene 828This August, I have read through piles of books, weird and not so weird, factual and conjectural, both fantastically and poorly researched.  Here’s my research for this picture so far:

 Jean-Yves Leloup’s Gospell of Mary Magdalene. (I was so wrong when I felt I hadn’t encountered Mary Magdalene before. She is all over my bookshelves already). I love Leloup. The French have a very different attitude and conception of The Magdalene than we do (here in the American Midwest) and it is refreshing and lovely to hear his passion for this woman shine thru his writing.

I had also forgot I read The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird at the same time I read Leloup. A great read, but she can be incredibly lax about footnotes and references.

Starbird’s Magdalene’s Lost Legacy and The Goddess in the Gospels. This gets deep into the gematria supposedly occurring in the greek bible. If you are willing to play along, this is a fascinating read. By playing along, I mean being able to be open minded when beliefs and opinions are challenged. I found it fascinating.

I learned Sacred Geometry from Lars Howlet and Richard Feather Anderson this summer at Veriditas. I added Sacred Geometry by Miranda Lundy. This is a really simple introduction that gets you up and drawing in seconds. Get a good compass! Robert Ferre’s Classical Labyrinths explains more of the feminine in sacred geometry as it applies to labyrinths.

Lauren Artress Walking a Sacred Path. I read this in ’96 gave that copy to my dad this summer, and received the fancy updated version from Lauren herself this summer. Lauren is a Episcopalian Priest, psychotherapist, and writer, and founder of Veriditas. If you need to start from a religious standpoint, this is an ideal place to begin your adventure.

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