Tag Archives: women

good books

13 Jan

2016-01-13 06.42.03

One of my favorite books. If I get stuck, it becomes the voice of my muse- a quick way to connect myself back to that inner place where things are not always as they seem.

p.231 – He’s been talking of women, in their traditional/ancient roles of courtesan (proficient in arts, literature and talk) housewife and the lovely, astonishing “Amazon” as he calls her:

‘There is a story about the daughter of the King of France, who’s been kidnapped by the Muslims. After she and a Muslim fall infinitely in love, she is rescued by her family and brought back from Islam. Her Muslim lover follows, recaptures her, and now, as they are running to escape from this military group of brothers who are trying to take her back, she says to him, ‘How good are you with your sword?’ He says, ‘No good. I’m just good in bed.’ ‘Well, she replies, ‘you go on then, and I will take care of this bunch.’ It’s a wonderful story, one of the best in the world, and it’s worth looking for in the Arabian Nights’

Crazy goodness. We are so smart, so bright, so capable. I’m thankful to live in a time where we are able to be educated, heard and treated as human beings rather than property…women have a vast, collective, repressed shit ton of wisdom to discover consciously. We have a lot to get out, and put into the collective. Joseph Campbell certainly recognized this. His sister was a sculptor and he hung out with a lot of artists over his life time. Teaching at Sarah Lawrence College allowed him to explain to hundreds of women how to have their own adventure, come to terms with their own wisdom:

 Women will have their families, marriage, daily chores, work, and then, when they are fifty, and their families have been launched, there they’ll be. And it was my intention to give them this spiritual message of how to read the world in the second half of life’s journey.’

This book does just that. Not for the faint-hearted or close-minded. Only for the adventurous, who aren’t afraid of picking up that sword now and again.

Taken from my Tumblr post this morning: janetbalboa.tumblr.com


10 Oct Banished janetbalboa
Banished janetbalboa

Banished c.janetbalboa2015

Roberto (my darling husband) posted my finished picture ‘Banished’ -on FB last night. Which has prompted me to write about it a bit sooner than I had intended.

I usually take time to sit with my work after it’s done. In a way, I meet my picture for the first time in this way. Before, it has always showed up to our meetings in a state of incompleteness. This in-the-process-of-being-finished stage of my art always has a lovely feeling of potentiality and possibility. Things can still creep into the drawing, it is still very much in process and dynamic. When I see my work framed and behind glass, it is finished. Complete. An object now, something I can observe in its final state.

I form opinions, observations, see it differently than when it was a work-in-progress. My work starts with a curiosity, a wondering about something and then over the course of months, I literally draw out my answer. It unfolds and reveals itself to me in the forms and colors and images that present themselves while I work. So I never start with a complete picture- I always have an image to get me started. Then I watch it unfold. I suppose it is similar to when characters begin to perform actions and demand scenes that surprise and delight their parent writers.

It’s because of this that I reflect after the picture is done- what was the answer to that question I had so many months ago? Have I changed to accommodate this answer? I believe with Rilke that we must be able to live our answers – and until we can, be content with loving the questions themselves. Often times the answer comes slowly as understanding born of research, insight and conversations are composted and turned over in my mind.

I am often asked what my pictures mean. And as you now know, they are personal answers to my personal questions. My experience and work with the symbols and images gives them meaning. But because my questions are similar to questions that many of us have, they also have a universal answer – and therefore we share meaning. The meaning resides in you, in how active the same symbols and archetypes that activate my questions, are present in you. Your life experience will bring different interpretations – are these any less valid? Anything that stirs the heart, moves the soul, causes us to wonder is a healing balm in our world of concretized dogma and instant answers.

Learning to trust ourselves fully and allowing our hearts to soar, far out on their strings – or on our sleeves –is letting our vulnerability touch and be touched by the world. We are big enough, encompassing enough, wise enough to enfold ourselves in our own healing embrace. Internally strong we come from our center; our unbreakable connection with the Mystery of our Being as it moves through time and space in the intricate and lovely vehicle called ‘me’.  You. Us. One of a kind magic.

This is what I wrote this morning on the information card I include with all my work. Each card relates to a specific picture. This is the card for ‘Banished’.

banished info card

It says:

banished As a culture, our inner masculine has devoured the action oriented Hero archetype- forgetting that the journey finishes with a return if it is to be a true journey. After the deeds are done, the lessons learned, the actions taken, the hero puts down his weapons, leaves the field of action and returns home- ideally giving back to the world the hard won truths. If everyone is off on this hero quest- who is keeping the metaphorical home fires burning? Who is there to welcome us as we return? We have overlooked- banished- the feminine; the receiving aspect of ourselves. Our inner feminine; the receptive, intuitive, inclusive and mother (an entire half of ourselves) has not been allowed a conscious or empowered place in our bodies or minds for thousands of years. The goal of the hero’s journey is the return – to society, integration, relationship – the world of feminine nature. The achievement of balance between both aspects of our nature allows us to become fully, beautifully, incredibly human.


31 Jan
triple goddess

this is the very center of an 11 x 17 work in progress.

I have two works in progress right now; one is a celebration of us women who are fast approaching the other half of their lives- the half where wisdom is more appropriate than stiletto’s. It’s relatively easy to see the shoes go- all I have to do is look at my 17 and 19 year old daughters as they raid my closet and try on shoes that they themselves aren’t even ready to wear yet- but I can see as they stand there, towering over me in my beloved high heels, that the day is not so far off after all. They are beautiful and young, with so much life and adventure ahead of them. The passing of the baton is not difficult for me, I look at the two of them with so much wonder and excitement for the possibilities ahead of them, which, I am sure will eventually go far, far beyond and much deeper than their adolescent love of external beauty and fashion. They are beautiful inside as well as out. How do you tell them that ‘this’, this fixation on ones’ looks and accomplishment is temporary. fleeting? At twenty it seemed to me too, that I had a whole life in front of me- that youth would last forever and beauty was, well, just a new face cream or wrinkle remover away.

There isn’t much in this culture to tell our youth otherwise. And this is where the crone, the ‘old’ wise women comes in…we women have to start cultivating our wisdom now, not wait until we are indeed old in spirit as well as body. We need to open our hearts so that our spirit will grow younger, full of insight and knowledge cultivated from an honest assessment of the lessons life has brought to us. We need to understand our purpose – that our incredible value goes much further than raising children, holding a job or giving to charities. We are desperately needed to become a wellspring for those following- for every woman who doesn’t do the work necessary to bring her story to fruition, there are girls and boys who will miss the wisdom only she could have provided.

How do we do this work? By loving ourselves. By taking an honest assessment of our lives, accepting and allowing all of our rich experiences, not judging ourselves, but seeing our lives with love and compassion for who we are now, and for who we will choose to become.

By simply allowing our lives to  matter, our experiences will translate into worth and meaning for others. Our culture does not support this. It is difficult work. It will not be accomplished by any cream, surgery or vitamin…the results, however, are guaranteed to be truly life changing and affirming. You may never know the far-reaching results of your hard-learned lessons. But if you begin to look out over your life at this moment and start to recognize patterns of joy and suffering, of bliss and despair- out of this close looking will come wisdom. The beautiful, unique person that you are has so much to offer to the world, and the older we get the richer and more fascinating the story. Mine your treasure for all that it is worth. Be willing to give birth to your story. It will be silent at first and only carried deep inside of you. That is the beginning.

Paris, Pandora and paranoia

15 May

See how I jump around? Honestly. But I love this mermaid…I’ve wanted to do a picture of my oldest daughter Zoe, forever-and this is the one. So in between the Zinnia girl and the Green man popped this. I started her somewhere last week and am ready to color her in.

This pen and ink part is easy – just draw and outline like a coloring book. First in pencil, then a .25 and .35 rapidograph pen.  I had a Google image search for ‘reef fish’ on my computer screen for reference, and Pandora playing. Pandora is fabulous. A music genome project…google it. Welcome to a new addiction. Usually I draw to French café music- (I prefer background music where I do not get distracted by the lyrics, in this case, because I do not understand them.) I think French chanson also makes me feel very, well, un-Mid-western. Somehow it imparts a subtle aura of coolness which is not always present to the degree I’d like in suburban Illinois…add to this, in the afternoon, a glass of wine? Well, decadent…french coffee houses, art, Paris in the 1920’s….understandably, my Muse just binges on this. However, for reasons that I do not understand, this mermaid piece needed the support of ‘Upside Down radio’ which is a Pandora station based on the song by Jack Johnson. Hootie and the Blowfish, The Postal Service, Bob Marley- that kind of music. So that is what I’m listening to, and since it’s only 9am, no wine- I’m caffeinating however.

I am also stalling. Where it gets scary for me is now, when I begin to color in the portrait/face part. This always scares the hell out of me. Every time. Although I’ve done a million faces, it’s like I have no idea what I am doing. I have to look at other pictures I’ve done to convince myself that yes, I am capable of it. So I sit here now, very hesitant to start. I suppose it’s this excitement; the danger of messing up,  that makes me adore it and fear it so much. Eustress. What if I mess up? I will have to start again (with my microscopic attention span, this is a BIG deal) What if it looks nothing like her? What if …

Nike comes to mind as the only possible solution.

Just do it.

I pick up a marker.

zinnia-almost done

9 May


This is today’s work-almost done. I had always intended for her dress to be pink….but after all my tangerine tango, well, orange it is. I like it. This is a photo from my phone – not the best, but what I have with me. Made some tea and am about ready to call it a day. I have a show coming up at the beginning of June- which is great motivation. Not that I need any these days. The Muse is present, she and I have struck an agreement I think. I try to remain calm, meditate and open myself to quiet-and she shows up regularly. Much easier said than done.

I even ran this morning, which I do not do, but got the coolest app for my phone (it has to do something well, because photos aren’t its thing apparently) which promises to get me from couch to 5k. Well. We shall see about that.

today’s portrait in the works

3 May

I love zinnias. And portraits. I have three or four pieces that I’m working on right now. I used to stick to one piece from start to finish, in fear of the dreaded

‘Why don’t you ever finish what you start?”

My husband, who is the reason everything in our lives runs so smoothly, has never actually said this to me, but I know he worries a little about my non-linear process, where nothing has a clear beginning or end. I used to worry about this too. Not so much anymore.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable with myself and my work style- plus, I get too many new ideas and too easily BORED to stick to one thing. This picture though is my favorite today. I love to do portraits with a unexpected backgrounds. More fun to create.

Wow – I just realized a blog perk! Accountability. I feel as though I have to get moving on this now that you have seen it. Hmmm…could also be seen as pressure…I love it!

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