Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Illusion of Balance - Story Behind the Painting

When we were asked to reflect on "balance", my first thought was it doesn't exist.  And yet I (we) understand the concept.  We all at least intuitively know what someone means when they say they are looking to find more balance in their lives.  So what is this illusive concept?

After a lot of reflective journaling & a few odd dreams, this is what I scribbled:

Balance.  It doesn't truly exist outside of the state of pure divinity,
in the largest broadest view possible,
where perfect stillness exists.


I have come to a belief that we can never truly be balanced in our lives.
And yet, we always possess a bit of it within.  Divinity is balance.
Humanity is unbalance.
Neither is good nor bad; neither is a state we would want to stay in permanently.


I am coming to understand true balance as that divine stillness that resides within.  While we may tap into that from time to time - in meditation, during intense periods of creative immersion, or perhaps during a long run (ok, for some people...) - it is not a state of being that is able to be maintained.  Trying to achieve balance and hold onto it is trying to escape this life.

One way to look at this is that we are here, in this life, to experience unbalance.  We are here to play with the ups and downs, the fears and delights of being alive.  Admittedly, a life with only these ups and downs would be like being strapped into a roller coaster with no off switch.  (I love roller coasters and all, but Ugh.)

Recognizing this stillness within - the balance, the divinity - allows us respite and a way to see that this state of being is impermanent.  We can delve into the intricacies of humanity and play with this life while respecting that this life (these days, these sorrows, even these joys) are not all that there is.  The stillness allows us to connect - if only briefly - with the larger, mysterious Self.


We play with our unbalanced humanity while maintaining awareness of our balanced divinity.


The process.

The Illusion of Balance started off in uncertain waters.  I had absolutely no idea where it was going.  As I mentioned in the video it was truly making me uneasy.  I was trying to allow the painting to flow...but I wasn't connected to the part of me from which that happens.  I was still on the surface trying to force images onto the paper.  I knew even then that if I am going to go deeper in my art - to truly find and express my Song - that I need to step back and pause.  I need to tap into that stillness and then let it flow.


The shapes and lines I'd drawn took form after a few days as human images.  I tried to add more realistic looking hair to the top girls but again - it felt forced.  Only when I let the shapes merge into one another, only when I stopped trying to make it look technically right, is when the painting started speaking to me.

I felt the different bodies start to emerge through color and line and just kept the paint flowing ever so softly into itself.  It was starting to take form; however, it was as if I could only hear a faint drum beat to paint to - not the entire song.

One evening, after looking at various paintings and art online, I suddenly felt a pull inside that said, GO. NOW.  MOVE DAMN IT.  (Demanding li'l b.....)  But I listen.  She knows what she's talking about.

I grabbed oil pastels, turned on music (Deep Forest), and just started dancing with my painting.  It was truly an awesome experience.  There was no thinking, no delay, just movement of my body and expression onto the page.  The final music was put into the painting through this session.  Lines, definition, expressions on the faces...beautiful, sensual flow.

The Stories of the Painting.

The meaning both existed before the painting and simultaneously emerged because of it.

I knew that I wanted to capture the feeling of "off-balance", somehow illuminating the overall feeling of balance yet the unattainable nature of sustained balance.  (Yep. I like to challenge myself.)  Beyond that, the true meaning of the painting did not appear to me until the end part of the process.

The figures are meant to represent the different forms we move into while trying to achieve balance.  They represent physical changes (hair color, clothes, weight) and life changes (trying different perspectives, reaching, moving, twisting...).  They are all individually You, they are all Me, and they are all of humanity.  They are concurrent states of existence (roles we must maintain simultaneously such as parent/worker/artist/runner) as well as different states we move into throughout our lives as we shed others.

The line towards the bottom is the teeter-totter that constantly moves back and forth, keeping us forever moving.  It is not meant to be tortuous - rather, as children ride up and down on the board, a playful way to experience.

The colors, balanced in a sense; cool river, earthy/moon colors on the bottom... warm, fiery sun colors on the top.  A yin-yang sort of harmony - and yet, even those aren't equally balanced throughout the painting.

The figures flow into one another, meld into existence and then out again as the gaze shifts around the painting.  It is impermanence.  It is the self that exists only while recognized, the creation with which we can play and then merge back into the whole.

There are so many more details (the gold triangle on top, the silver on bottom), but I love to encourage people to bring their own stories into the art.  Enough of my story.

I always want my art to be experienced, not just viewed; felt, not just analyzed.

I'd love to know what stories this brings forth for you - either the art or the discussion of balance.