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What I love most about teaching

15 Sep

Tools of the TradeWhen my student is beyond excited. When they have that look in their eyes. When I know that something clicked, an alignment occurred with their soul. We are together for an instant in this blissed out moment that feels like the entire universe exhaled an immense and satisfied ‘YES!’

Last week, Jim asked if he could take his picture home to work on. He was so excited to show his parents his work in progress. He’s been in class close to 16 weeks, developing his style; drawing, painting, penciling what he loves- reptiles, lizards and snakes. He is a walking encyclopedia on everything reptile. He is also a connoisseur of morning glories. His enthusiasm is contagious.

Recently, he’s adopted a new tool- Derwent Inktense Ink pencils. He uses an easel, inventing his style of working as he goes- experimenting with different papers, pencils, techniques…and last Thursday- BOOM! Lightning struck and he was hooked. The muse had him by the tail and it was just the coolest thing to witness. He grew exponentially, expanded beyond his old story of his ability and I was able to see THAT MOMENT.

‘Oh wow’ he said to himself, looking at his picture, his hands full of pencils and paintbrushes, ‘I love this. I love this.’

When class was over, as he’s walking out the door, I saw that he also had the case of the studio’s Derwent pencils. Around $150 worth of these amazing things, cradled to his chest.

So I’m like, ‘Er…you’re taking the pencils too?’ A bit hesitant to let these things walk out the door.

His face was absolutely shining, as he said so seriously – “Yes! I promise I’ll be careful with them. I promise! Is it ok if I borrow them, since no one else is using them?’

In that moment, I could see the monetary value of those pencils was absolutely nothing compared to the value that they had to him, this gifted 13-year-old artist who had just discovered an entire world of wonder and awe in a case of pencils. We had discussed the price of him buying the exact set earlier in class that day, so he knew what he was asking.

‘Yes.’ I said.

He didn’t even say thank you or goodbye, (which he does every time, because he’s a polite and gracious kid) he instead just turned and floated toward his mom, clutching the pencils and his drawing.

Is that not connection we’re all longing for? A direct pipeline to joy? This is what is sustainable. Find the things that expand you, that inspire you to become more of who you are. It’s not about ‘Am I ‘good’ at this or any other external marker. It’s about what fulfills you. And that is always an inside job. How do you find a way to let the radiance out? What is it that tickles your fancy, that you do just for the sheer delight of exploration and creativity?

‘Oh wow’ (you overhear your soul say), ‘I love this. I love this.’

And honestly, it feels exactly like the entire universe is exhaling an immense and satisfied ‘YES!’ -through you.

I love prismacolor faces!

23 Mar

I think she’s here. Have another layer of white pencil to do- that’s it for her face, I think. It for now anyway.

Excited for background- purples, fuschias, lime greens…

Have these gorgeous tapestry scarves- I photographed them in the airport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. So some inspiration for the foliage on black background.

class ideas

26 Oct

Ahhh! Haven’t posted for AGES….

But, life has been percolating away as always, just undocumented.

I’ve been teaching an amazing variety of students, and classes. Exploring ways and methods of communicating and understanding.

For art instruction, I’ve settled on colored pencil and drawing techniques ’cause they are my absolute favorite to do therefore to some degree, to teach.

I teach  Colored Pencil I (beginners) and  Colored Pencil II (advanced) from 1 – 4 on Fridays. Since most of the students stay for both classes, my husband Rob asked if that makes all the students ‘average’. Which makes me laugh – then I wonder- if anyone of us stands up during class,  are we automatically above average? We discussed this in class last week and laughed our asses off as usual. The average age is 65 – so we share a lot of stories from vastly different paths and journeys. I love it. I love the dynamics of ‘group’ – the participation and delight that emerges. Also sad stuff, like death, sickness and other challenges that we encompass in our little accidental art family.

I’m also teaching Chakra classes, Celtic Art and this semester, trying out:

Exploring Being  
Explore meditation, consciousness and being. An open discussion class of self discovery.  Meditative coloring available.  –Inst. Janet Balboa
MON 5:30-7pm  Age 18 & up (this IS what’s on the site- but the actual time is 7-8:30)

That’s the official description right off the school’s website! How about that for just diving in and trusting! I’ll tell you how it goes. I’m so excited about it, I have so much ‘stuff’ and this is forcing me to unwrap it and get it written down in an easily explainable format. And I love the trust of my students who are signing up for God-knows-what.

Some class topics: The Moon Cycle: moon board final

I’ve had this idea in my head for ages, and posted this moon graphic on Instagram last year some time. Not a following of the Moon as such, but a resonance with a cycle- something we forget in our hard-pressed linear existence. there is comfort in repeat-ability, in a turning, a re-volving that is predictable, knowable. Using a cycle to evolve rather than being stuck in countless repetition- rather like bad habits, outworn beliefs…a cycle gives us a platform for change, which ultimately is growth. and that dark part of the moon cycle…used to be called The Shaman’s Rest…a bit of wisdom there right? Maybe resting, reflecting, re-orienting would calm our frazzled nerves and give our body a much needed chance to just BE instead of BEing driven relentlessly. I digress…

So there’s going to be a lot of meat here, and discussion. Other stuff I want to do: Burkhard Heim, how he established the placement of archetypes and the God dimension- fascinated by this. A expansive discussion. mentally challenging. and best of all, no conclusions, just creating an opening.

Meditation – not so much a new technique, but a different method for relating to the outcome- approaching meditation as an interval in eternity- accessible from the present moment.

The Feminine. Where, exactly is the Mother? Is it the Goddess returning? has she left? Are we to be content with the concept that ‘Father’ as Jesus uses it- also includes Mother? The beyond-duality concept of the creative principle? Is this a moot point? These kind of discussions.

Then there’s a weird little ‘story’ that has caught my interest and imagination that runs through the playing cards and therefore the minor arcana of the Tarot. Not using these cards for divination, but for a teaching/ reflection, which I’m guessing was the original purpose, Albigensian in origin or not. Exploring and opening this up a little- why has the protector of woman, the fight for my ladies honor, the holder of ‘woman as ideal’ rather than ‘woman as object’ (much like Mary, but highly individualized, think Dante’s Beatrice…) the Knight – gone missing from our playing cards… the when is interesting in itself.

So. That is where I find myself right now. Creating openings, holding space and excited to see who and what show up. I’ll be posting my class notes and teachings here too. So I also welcome you to the labyrinth of our meanderings.

Bon voyage!!!

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.

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.

Sacred Marriage

4 Jan

mother divine sketch

Winter Solstice Meanderings. Exploring the feminine proclivity towards a holistic, simultaneous, synthetic and concrete view of the world. Essentially balancing the linear, sequential, reductionist and abstract way of the masculine worldview.

Neither is better. Like the ancient Taoist circle, taoist-integration-symmetry-symbolsymbol of symmetry and integration, both are equally present in creative tension.

We honor one over the other to our collective detriment.

How do we restore the life of our interior feminine?

This Sacred Marriage of our inner masculine and feminine, the Divinely arranged marriage, happens every day, every moment, all across the world.  Individually we find our way, men and women, over long distances, at great cost, to finally arrive at this Sacrament, conscious and aware. We greet our Beloved Opposite; Our Self, with surprised, delighted, joyful re-cognition. We feel the almost unimaginable impossibility of our separation. And we discover that our finding each other was actually, appallingly, the easier part of our journey. The difficult, unaccustomed, awkwardness of holding our precious union as we walk back into our polarized world is our overwhelming challenge.

How do we re-integrate with a world that is still desperately, addictively searching for…something? How can we say ‘Here, see – this is it!’ when we have no new light around us, no fancy words, no marketing technique that will translate? When we have seen the beauty of who we are, and yet feel that something hasn’t quite caught up, that part of me is still working hard at becoming who I am – lagging behind, fearful of change, untrusting. Pissed at myself that I still search, addictively, for that thing out there, that magic pill that will make me whole. My habitually dis-eased body a direct manifestation of my habitually dis-eased spirit. Shocker. I am uneasy with my inner masculine. He is uneasy with me.  We are re-learning the dance.

New Dance. Old partners, new steps. Practice. Over and over again. oh yes, two left feet.  We are now Lovers, the Sacred Two-in-One, Holy, learning to receive rather than consume, to love without controlling, to recognize the absoluteness of our interdependence. To celebrate, wonder at, and honor our differences. To truly see each other, and each in the other.  One step, one breath, one moment at a time.

 

Mother Divine Image

Thanking: Leonard Shlain, for the descriptions of the feminine and masculine worldviews. Many have postulated on this, I appreciate his word/image choices.

Art Show in Crystal Lake

13 Aug

I have a new show called “Keep Making Love” going on for the month of August at Le Petit Marche in downtown Crystal Lake. If you’re around, stop in and say hello!August Art Show

August Art Show

August Art Show

Work for this month

25 Apr

image

Dawning of Aquarius. Marker and colored pencil on marker paper. 11 x 14
So much color. Love it. Getting ready for a show in July.

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