Coming Home (encaustic)

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Coming Home."
Coming Home | encaustic (sold)

Is Home a Place, a State of Being or Both?

After finding themselves in a new place to live, generally far away from where they grew up, I’ve often heard people say, “When I go back home…” with a longing in their voices and a sentimental look in their eyes remembering back to earlier days. This often continues until relationships and connections form in the new place. But ultimately, many people want to end up back where they came from, for example to be buried near to where parents or other family are or will be buried.

Having moved and lived in a variety of locations myself, each place adds a little bit to my unique compilation of home. There are the buildings and towns where I grew up as baby, a child, an adolescent and a young adult. There are my first place on my own, the apartments with my spouse and the places where my children grew up. There is the house where I grow older and welcome my grown children, families and friends. And there are the future places where I trust I will be cared for when I can’t take care of myself any more. These are my physical homes.

But home also feels like something less physical and more spiritual. I recall bits from a Native American story heard years ago about a girl (or boy) who was looking for a special treasure. She (or he) looked far to the east, west, north, south, over the mountain and under the sea. But the treasure was nowhere out there to be found. Finally, having nowhere else to look, the girl (or boy) turned the search in the only direction remaining: inward. There, the treasure was waiting in the most quiet and protected place. Deep inside was the special treasure only the girl (or boy) could every truly know.

In meditation, such as that described in this recording on Meditation by Alan Watts, one often repeats a mantra, such as “Om.” I find it intriguing that the sound of “Om” and “home” are very similar.

In my encaustic painting shown here, the circular shapes represent the spirit or self coming to (or going to) that multifaceted place or state of being called “home.”

Here are some “home” ideas and songs from others that you might like:

Where or what is your home? Are you seeking it? Are you already there?

 Feel free to add your note about this post or view others’ thoughts by clicking “Leave a Comment / Comments,” below.

 For information about commissioning a similar piece, contact Janet Fox.

Healing from Within (encaustic)

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Healing from Within."
Healing from Within | encaustic

Healing. What is it? Where is it from?

Unlike some of my other work, this painting was not inspired by a dream. One reason I enjoy creating art is that I can drift into a focused realm that is “in the moment of doing.” During this process, I somehow turn down the volume of outside distractions and on-going mind chatter and enter a sort of creative, healing meditation.

I painted this encaustic image on top of an earlier painting on canvas that I had also previously collaged over with bits of incomplete paintings and writing snippets. While building up the layers, including the top ones of melted pigmented wax, I decided to let the title words poke through. Do you see them?

Other words on the under paintings, which I blurred or covered over, can be forgotten. I felt enlightened by the words that poked through clearly; they looked right and made me feel good.

In a literal sense, “healing” means to “make whole.” My energy and intentions while painting come from somewhere inside. Perhaps painting this art allowed me to become more whole. The words poked through from a deeper source of knowledge, like writing myself a reminder note so I wouldn’t forget.

The multiple layers also remind me of the complexity of life and how the experiences of today layer on top of those from many yesterdays. In some way, my life IS my artwork, since I add new layers of experiences every day while deciding what to focus on or forget.

After I finished this painting, I photographed and exhibited it at the Montgomery Art Association Gallery. Several months later, I decided to scrape off all of the wax and other layers, down to the base canvas surface. As a result, the painting no longer exists in its original physical form. Now, it exists only as a combination of zeros and ones in the digital realm. I make prints of it for art greeting cards.

Through this painting, I explored how healing energy is present deep within. I can help it break through the layers of time to the awareness of daily life. Now that I know this, I can not un-know it.

Contemplation: Have you found healing energy from somewhere deep within? Did you do something intentional to release it?

  Feel free to add your note about this post or view others’ thoughts by clicking “Leave a Comment / Comments,” below.

 For information about purchasing art cards, contact Janet Fox.

Power Surge (encaustic)

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Power Surge (aka Hot Flash)."
Power Surge (aka Hot Flash) | encaustic

Power Birthing, the Latest Hot Flash

With Mothers’ Day nearing, here’s a timely dream and painting to explore. Enjoy!

Dreamscape… I’m visiting the labor and delivery wing of a state-of-the-art hospital. After nine months, a twenty-something female friend is in labor and having a baby! There’s much excitement and anticipation. After a few hours of labor, the baby is born and the doctors and nurses check her/him over. They give the baby to the mother to hold and after, they weigh the baby and make sure she/he is properly developed. After (and I gasp loudly at this part) they proceed to re-insert the baby back into the mother, head first. To my amazement, performing this latest “power birthing” procedure (which will last another month or so) is proven to give the baby a big advantage in its development. While still in shock at this newest of modern medical procedures, I think to myself, “Now I’ve seen a lot of medical advances and new baby things in my lifetime, like in utero surgeries, high-tech strollers, monitoring systems, and advanced gadgets of all kinds, but this new way to “power birth” takes the cake and is absolutely, no-doubt-about-it ludicrous! After going through nine months of pregnancy, hours of labor, and delivery, how on Earth could or would any mother voluntarily do this?” I am bewildered by this situation…

After awakening from this vivid dream, marveling about this surprising story, and laughing about its absurdity, I wondered why this particular sequence of images flowed through my sleep time. So I went into my studio and painted while contemplating this dream.

I decided to tap into my “mother” energy and birth my own “art baby.” Do you see it, there in the middle of this painting? This smaller rectangular section was a mixed media painting I had begun a while ago, but it had not felt quite finished. So I placed it in the middle of a larger blank, wooden board. I then added more artistic elements, taking about another month until I decided it was finished enough to sign. I assembled and mounted the piece in a handmade wooden frame, using my arm-powered saw and drill. While painting, I also explored the idea of what comes after being a mother, thus generating the painting’s name.

Who Has the Power to Decide When A Creation is Finished?

Creating this piece brought up some interesting questions and ideas for reflection.

  • What are the characteristics of the symbolic mother archetype? Here’s what Wikipedia’s says about Jungian archetypes and mother.
  • What symbolic “baby” is ready to be born, although a schooled part of me wants to keep working on it for another month?
  • When is a painting (or any creative endeavor) really finished? I’ve asked other artists this question and almost all replied that they work and rework their art until it feels “finished enough.”
  • Is finishing a painting (or other project) the end of the creative process? Perhaps it is. But I, and other artists I’ve asked, often revisit a previously completed painting and work another layer on top or incorporate it into a new piece. Some art remains in the form of an idea for years while others hibernate in drawers as “works in progress.” Some creations get gifted, donated, recycled, or thrown away.
  • What is power? Wikipedia offers this definition, involving the balance of both constraint and enablement.
  • Who has the power to say when my creative project is finished? The symbolic medical people? The mother? The baby? Some or all of the above?

As an artist and as a contributor to collaborative projects with others, this issue always comes up. How complete, detailed, or perfect does something need to be? How much time and energy do I have to focus on the task? Where is the balance?

For me, I’ve learned to find a point that feels complete enough. Then I sign my name and move on. But sometimes, I go back for a revisit like I did for “Power Surge aka Hot Flash.”

Here are some words of wisdom from others:

  • “Art is a birth, and you can’t go to a teacher and find out how to be born… you have to struggle… until that image, the one that comes out of your need to create, emerges.” – Malcah Zeldis, 1978 (at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, District of Columbia)
  • “The job isn’t finished until the floor is swept, the tools cleaned and put away in their place, and the shop lights turned off.” – Leonard Fox (my father)

How do  you know when your creation is finished?

 Feel free to add your note about this post or view others’ thoughts by clicking “Leave a Comment / Comments,” below.

  For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.