Tag Archives: Tree of Life

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

Anam Cara

16 Oct Janet Balboa Anam Cara 2014

 

Janet Balboa Anam Cara 2014

Janet Balboa 2014_Anam Cara 19″x24″

Anam Cara. Prismacolor markers, pencils. a few copics too! on marker paper. 19 x 24…Finished!!!

Anam Cara – the beautiful Irish soul mate, the sacred friendship of the heart. I imagine this sacred friendship extended to include earth and sky, the intimate, glorious connection we share with all life. Filled with ‘symbology’ to help meditation and contemplation practice, this piece encourages the heart chakra to flow openly, lighting the world around you. Ygdrasil, the world-tree of Norse Mythology connects land and sky in an intimate bond of ancient kinship. The triple Goddess of Mother, Maiden and Wise Woman (a symbol for the feminine side of the Divine) Sophia encompasses all life with her wisdom, compassion and nurturing. Telephoros, with his lantern, encourages dreams and illumination of the unconscious. We are loved. Unconditionally…

What would it be like to feel this divine connection with the earth? What would life be like if we saw our life and our beautiful earth as divine gifts? What if we believed that we were entirely supported and loved unconditionally and always encouraged to evolve into constantly better versions of our self? What if we believed that the world is for us, instead of against us? What if the way we choose to look at our life and our world – as gifts – could help us live with our fear and terror? What if we accepted our self as we are, exactly as we are, light and dark? And let that be ok for now. See it as a good place to start to practice unconditional love.

It is my prayer today, that all of us who are suffering because we feel not good enough, that we are not needed, that we aren’t worthy of love – my prayer is that we come to know our self in a way that not only accepts, but delights in our differences, recognizes our fears as friends who bring lessons and gifts, and see that our incredible, one of a kind beauty  is present precisely because of our darkness. Our broken bits are what make us beautiful. They are part of the prism that scatters the pure light of love at the center of our being.  Our greatest gifts are often wrapped lovingly and snuggly in our greatest fears, waiting for us to mature enough so that we can understand what is needed to heal our wounded parts.

We struggle to manifest our gifts. We struggle to come to terms with our self. We struggle to bring our light to the world.  Slowly and with the passing of years, we begin to accept our selves. We begin to recognize, appreciate and take responsibility for our own life. We realize that we are complete. We stop the outer projection when we realize that our judging of the behaviors and actions of others is a manifestation of our unrecognized shadow. Our wounds – the dark inner places calling out to us for healing and attention. We begin to make friends with our interior darkness. This place of chaos and unformed things is also our place of potential, of creation. Our womb.  As we heal, we are ‘re-born’ , transformed into bringers of compassion, love and acceptance. We become whole and holy. We become lights for the world, living out our Divine connection to our beautiful earth and the beings on it. We can finally recognize and delight in our bond of ancient kinship. We have not been lost at all. We merely lost our way. We have always been known and loved dearly, for exactly who we are at this moment. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…

drawing the neolithic way

9 Jun janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014
janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

 

These things always start off poorly. At this point I’m a bit panicky, because it looks more like a dessert rather than rock.  I stay with it, knowing that if I throw enough color at it, it will be fine. If in doubt, add more. (color, coffee, nutella…)

 

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

Getting the lines of ochre and sepia in, and the grey speckles. So far, everything in marker. The inner lines are outlined in black, so the point of this  is softening  up the black indentations and flattening them out visually. Nevermind the resemblance to  intestines. Or worse.

 

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

 

Now. Cover over the whole thing with a white pencil. rub most of the pencil off with a piece of kleenex. (beware the kleenex with the lotion!) then go back over the lightest bits with cream pencil. burnish again: if the kleenex isn’t ratty by now, push harder.

 

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

 

More colored pencil: Add in all those little veins with french grey 90%. Sienna, Light Umber. I speckled the entire thing with warm grey 90%. popped up the white with chinese white. I also added Rust(colored pencil) haphazardly across the top – partly because it gives a look of granite but mostly because I’m never really sure when something is done.

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

And there it is. A spiral cut into rock. Just like they did it in 10,000 BCE. ;)

Here it is in the overall picture:

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

janet balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, c. 20014

 

a rainy day with prismacolors

2 Jun Janet Balboa,Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2013
Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

 

A rainy day put to good use. I’m headed out for coffee…and some friendly faces. Bought a new burnisher, colorless. Don’t know if I like it as much as burnishing with a pencil itself, seems to leave   a lot of wax.

New project and…marker paper!

29 May
Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

Here’s my new project. I love, love, line drawings! I always intend to complete the entire image in ink before I color…but that never happens. I grab the markers and pencils. I suppose I can’t wait for it to begin to ‘come alive’. (forgive my photography – the darkness- took it with my phone)

download

canson marker paper

This picture is 19 x 24 inches, one of the largest I’ve done recently. I drew it out  out in pencil on marker paper. If you’ve never tried marker paper – try it. Get a small pad…  Initially, I was scared to death to use it. After using Bristol for 30 years, marker paper seems incredibly thin and flimsy, but actually, it’s not. It wrinkles and loses that pristine smooth look very quickly but then  begins to adapt itself to the drawing – much like working on vellum. I think the Irish Monks would have used marker paper if they could have got their hands on it. No skinning of animals necessary either. The markers hold their brightness and colored pencils float over the top making for some amazing effects. Marker paper holds up fairly well to erasing, but I usually retrace my entire drawing from an original piece of marker paper or vellum where I’ve done  my initial sketches. I keep a folder full of the sketches and drawings that eventually get transferred to the final  piece of paper.

 

solar medallion

solar medallion – Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

lunar medallion

lunar medallion – Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014


 I got this great copper look on the solar medallion  (found on the right hand side of the ink drawing above). Mainly done with prismacolor markers.  The Lunar medallion(left side of larger drawing) looks more like shell;  burnishing with a white pencil gave that effect.  ;)

 

death…and life.

17 Dec

The Tree of LifeI just completed this picture for Agnes, an Irish woman who recently passed. I never knew her, but the words of her son and his wife were enough to inspire this drawing. We decided loosely to include a Tree of Life and Celtic knot work. Those were my only directions. . .

I thought of Agnes a lot while I drew. What was she like? What would she think about this picture if she could see it?

The Tree of Life, with its mystery and its commonality to all peoples throughout human history represents in this picture, the connection between heaven and earth and also the life force that sustains and surrounds all forms of creation. Knot work can also symbolize this inclusiveness and interconnectedness of all things.

A couple of days before I finished, the words came to me -I like to think they were helped along by Agnes-and all I can say is ‘thank you’. Agnes’ spirit is here, she is alive in the stories her children tell and in the fond memories she inspires.

This was a very special commission and I am honored to be a part of this beautiful woman’s legacy.

The original image is 12 x 36. I have to thank Jen Emery for inspiring the green knot work which I rendered into pencil.

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