Encaustic

Circling Back

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Circling Back."
Circling Back | encaustic (sold)

Circling back around

The end of 2015 has come and gone and we’re circling back around into a new year. Reflecting on last year, I saw various “Best of 2015” lists. What were the best movies, music and photos? Most compelling stories? Loveliest moments? Scariest events? What have we learned? What have we struggled with that needs more time to figure out?

On a personal level, I’ve felt a strong urge to sort through things, clean, rearrange, recycle what I no longer need, find new homes for reusable items, and discard what’s too worn to be useful. Some of this work is a sort of ending. And colder winter weather also keeps me inside more so it just feels like a great time to do these tasks.

Timing of new beginnings

Closing out an old year, while taking time with family and friends, allowed me to reflect on what is important. I’ve not been a big fan of New Year resolutions, but having a re-start date can be useful to focus on self improvements. This informative and humorous article by Elahe Izadi in The Washington Post points out why the new year starts on Jan. 1, noting it is a terrible time for renewal.

For me, though, the gradually increasing amount of daylight after the Winter Solstice on December 21st brings feelings of new growth. (Getting gardening seed catalogs in the mail help that along, too.) But I know the first of the year is not the only time for new growth.

Clean space for something new

With things I no longer need cleared out, I now have a blank space (or a blank canvas) to explore, create and fill. But what will I do and create? Something brings me back around to the words of the late Joseph Campbell, the famous American scholar of world mythology. His answer when asked this kind of question was “to follow your bliss.” The Painter’s Keys Art Quotes has this great list of Joseph Campbell quotes. I hope you enjoy them!

So I’m trying to stay aware and recognize what brings me happiness and joy so I can fill my space with more of that. Creating art and exploring my and others’ dream realms are a few of the blissful, energizing paths I am on.

About Circling Back Around

In this contemporary encaustic painting, I created roundish shapes and paths. Layering papers and colors reminded me of how I often repeat similar things, although no two times are identical. I chose a thin silver cord for skipping around, for a light feeling.

So here we go again, but with another year of experience under our collective belt. What changes need to be made… and can we muster the courage and energy to make them?

What blissful paths are you following?

  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 artwork, contact Janet Fox.

Dreams in Wax at Westfield Art Festival

Image of an encaustic 3-D painting by Janet Fox titled "Dreams in Wax."
Dreams in Wax | encaustic

The Wheaton Art Festival

I’m thrilled to be part of the Wheaton Art Festival, on Friday, November 13 at Chuck Levin’s Music Center (Performance Space), at 11151 Veirs Mill Road, in Wheaton, Maryland. This juried pop-up art event is part of the Wheaton Arts & Cultural Series.

My entry Dreams in Wax, is part of my series of 3-D art pieces incorporating dream journals.

Dream Study

I began studying my dreams about 20 years ago. About one third of my studies have been in dream group settings; the rest, a solo endeavor.

This practice helps me discover my authentic voice, the one from somewhere deep within. This voice speaks in a unique, rich inner language of symbols. I trust that these dreams come to help me become a whole person.

And while I’ve explored personal meaning in a group setting, I’ve also seen others use my dream themes and symbols as a sort of mirror to project their own ideas. This is similar to a group of people viewing one piece of art while each seeing different things and feeling different emotions. I find that dream study connects me to others in wonderful and inspiring ways, enlivening my life.

About Dreams in Wax

I began this piece with a journal from back when. I decided to fold in the pages, covering them in encaustic medium as a way to preserve the pages. I also sewed the pages together, perhaps to not reveal too much. The red tassels represent the “loud symbols” that can show up in a dream. These are the ones that are packed full of emotion, brightly colored, shocking or jump out at me in a way to require further reflection.

The rectangular window on the inside of each cover represent dreams as windows into an interior world. I mounted the journal on a rich brocade velvet, reminding me of the richness of dreams. The entire piece is inside a 4 inch frame, again a sort of window looking inside to find something beautiful.

How do You Relate to Your Dreams?

  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.

Bridging the Divide

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Bridging the Divide."
Bridging the Divide | encaustic

What is a bridge? What is a divide?

We have all experienced them in some form. According to Merriam Webster, a bridge is primarily “a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle,” and “a time, place, or means of connection or transition.” Some bridges go in one direction, while others allow movement both ways. I think of dreams as a bridge between the conscious and subconscious realms.

The divide is the area between either ends of the bridge. Some divides are starkly clear, while others are cloudy. Sometimes we know what to expect on the other side, while other times we are in for an unknown adventure.

Why cross the bridge?

To get to the other side, of course. To grow and experience new things, connect with others, and live life more fully, people are bridging all kinds of boundaries and obstacles every day. Some can help by building bridges so others can cross over in safety. Sometimes, we “burn bridges” after crossing them, making it impossible to go back the way we came.

When to cross the divide?

When we get there. Or when we are allowed to go, like after a drawbridge closes or after we have passed inspection by boundary guards. We must wait until we have built up the courage, energy and resources to make the trip. Or when despair, coupled with a glimmer of hope, drives us forward. We might need to wait for others to escort us. Sometimes, we decide not to take the journey. Sometimes, a part of us remains behind or dies in the crossing.

About Bridging the Divide

In this encaustic painting, I used my favorite turquoise and its complementary color to represent opposite sides of a divide. The figures on this misty bridge can pass back and forth, like travelers between the waking world and dreaming realm.

How are you bridging the divides in life?

  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, on exhibit at David’s Café Gallery, located in the Parkview Building at 1300 Spring Street in Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Janet Fox.

Comings and Goings aka Orbit Machine

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Orbit Machine #7."
Comings and Goings (aka Orbit Machine #7) | encaustic

Launching into orbit

Life is so busy. There’s much movement every day. I wake up and find the energy to launch from my home base, going to this place and then the next one. At the end of the day, I return home.

These paths feel like a sort of orbit, circling around my home but always returning to it.

Crossing paths

While traveling, I cross over streets and boundaries. My path intersects with many others. Sometimes our paths align and we travel together for a while. When we’re together, we interact in countless ways.

Moving around

The transportation machines of modern life, like bikes, cars, transit and planes, physically move us around.

Technology enables us travel even further, going to far-away countries, interacting with people around the globe, and connecting in online meeting spaces.

Spacecraft, like NASA’s New Horizons, take us to the far reaches of our known world, circling back to us through images sent through space.

Books transport the reader to real and imagined settings. Spiritual practices help us get to mystical, non-physical states.

About Comings and Goings (aka Orbit Machine #7)

This encaustic art, Comings and Goings (aka Orbit Machine #7), represents the motions of life moving around in a weekly cycle. First going here, then there, then over there, and circling back around to home. I layered colorful pastel-infused papers fused in encaustic media in this three-piece painting, cutting grooves to fill in more colors.

Where do your daily travels take you?

  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.

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Turn a Dream Journal Page

Image of a encaustic, mixed media 3-D journal art by Janet Fox titled "Turn the Page."
Turn the Page | encaustic, mixed media 3-D journal art

Dream energy in a journal

Looking around, I see countless things created by people. Everyday items, clothing, furnishings, vehicles, buildings, highways, technology and so much more… all human made. Starting with an idea or inspiration, people collaborate to develop the materials, tools and processes to translate ideas into physical objects. As a society, we invest much in our human creations.

Likewise on a personal level, I’ve worked hard and invested time, money and energy on the things that enliven my life, experiencing the creative process and learning along the way. For example, I’ve filled many a dream journal, capturing decades of dreamtime stories along with the wake-time reflections from my individual study and within dream groups.

When is it time to let go?

After I finish a creative project, I enjoy the fruits of my labor for some period of time. At some point, though, my focus drifts and shifts to something new. And after a while, I wonder what to do with all of the things I’ve accumulated, especially those things I no longer need?

Many items, like photos, school mementos and art I created back when, I’ve stored away. I rarely look at them but when I do, they help me remember special parts of my life journey. I suppose that is why I’ve found them valuable enough to keep.

With other accumulated things that don’t rise to that level of meaning, I feel that my closets and living space are too crowded. And, no, I don’t want to find a bigger space to grow into.

When I feel too crowded, I sometimes teeter back-and-forth thinking of how much I’ve invested in those things versus my desire to simplify. Do I have the time and energy now to sort through them? How do I prioritize my time? Do I procrastinate or fall into the mode of when something is out-of-sight, it is also out-of-mind.

In my art studio, when it’s too crowded, I have a hard time starting something new.

Cleaning, sorting, reusing, recycling, recreating

Growing up, my mom taught my siblings and me to clean out our dresser drawers, closets and desks several times a year. We often did these house-cleaning rituals over school breaks when seasons changed and as we outgrew our cloths. We didn’t have the luxury of a big house, so we learned to let go of outdated and outgrown things. It usually felt great after the clean-out, as we were also creating space for new things.

I also worked professionally for many years in the recycling field. I thought a lot about ways to reduce, reuse and recycle the materials of daily life. Whenever a new technology became popular, recyclers received the outdated discards to be reused or re-created into something else. Or if there wasn’t a market for the items, they were disposed of.

And how do I manage my personal things? Am I a pack-rack, sentimental, procrastinating or too busy to sort through things I no longer need (or all of the above)? I’ve invested much of my energy creating, but it also takes energy to hold onto things. In a desire to simplify, I know I need to let go of things.

I’ve found joy in giving items to friends and family. I’m thankful to live in a neighborhood with a very active list serve; people daily post items to give away or ask to borrow infrequently used things. I’m also thankful for the many charities that make it super easy to schedule donation pick-ups.

In my art studio, it’s time to go through my stash of dream journals. I’m revisiting especially vivid dreams. Other more ordinary dreams, I turn the page over.

About Turn the Page

My dreams represent a chunk of my life and a bit of my creative energy… first the dream, then the writing of it, then thoughts and discussion. I especially enjoy creating art inspired by my more vivid dreams.

Having studied my dreams for almost 20 years, I’ve accumulated a large shelf full of dream journals. In them, I’ve written many dreams and wake-time reflection from on my own or from others in a dream group.

This 3-dimensional art, Turn the Page, was once a dream journal covering 99 days of my life from back when. I re-read the pages and saved the ones I wanted to work on again. After, I folded in the remaining pages, inserted colorful papers with encaustic, and sewed the folded edges together using my favorite color of embroidery floss. This piece is the first in a series of dream journals I’m letting go of. Somehow, this feels really good to re-create.

How do you part with personal things you no longer need?

  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, on exhibit through February 21, 2017 in the new Gallery 209 in Artists & Makers Studios 2, located in Rockville, MD, contact Janet Fox.

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Bethesda Public Library July Featured Artist

Postcard image for Janet Fox's Featured Artist Exhibit at the Bethesda Public Library in Bethesda, MD.
Janet Fox is the Featured Artist for July 2015 at the Bethesda Public Library in Bethesda, MD.

I’m thrilled to be the Bethesda (MD) Public Library Featured Artist from July 1-31, 2015! I invite you to stop by to see a selection of 12 art pieces. In addition to the art, I have included companion text about each piece.

This solo exhibit “Dream Themes and Art Flows” focuses on four themes: water, crossings, balance and energy.

I chose these themes because I often dream or think about them. And while making art, I often find myself lost in the creative process, losing track of time in a sort of “art flow,” similar in many ways to what others describe while exercising or highly focused on other activities.

The 3-D piece shown above, Turn the Page, is part of a new series transforming some of my dream journals into art. My next post will explore more on this topic.

Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere, focuses on crossing over the boundary from waking consciousness into the realm of dreams. More about this art piece is in my post “Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere.”

Thanks for all your support and best wishes!

MAA’s May Featured Gallery Artist

Image of artist Janet Fox.
Artist Janet Fox

I’m thrilled to be the Montgomery Art Association‘s Featured Gallery Artist from May 5-31, 2015! I invite you to stop by to see a larger selection of my art and also come to the reception on Sunday, May 17 from 1 – 5 PM at MAA’s Gallery in Westfield Wheaton, in Wheaton, Maryland. I’ll also be at the Gallery several other times in May, so if you would like to meet, send me a message so we can coordinate a time. Hope to see you there and thanks for all your support and best wishes! Note that MAA’s previously announced Gallery closing has been reversed.

Flyer image for Janet Fox's Featured Artist Exhibit at Montgomery Art Association Gallery in Wheaton, MD.
Janet Fox is the Featured Artist for May 2015 at Montgomery Art Association’s Gallery in Wheaton, MD.

 

Gatherings Connect Us With Others

Image of an encaustic triptych painting by Janet Fox titled "Gatherings."
Gatherings | encaustic triptych

We are social beings

Gatherings come in many forms, presenting opportunities to connect with others. My favorites include shared meals, parties, meetings, workshops, concerts, walks, campfires and watching a sunset or moonrise with others. And although emotionally more difficult, gatherings due to an illness, death or significant loss can be especially important to express grief and offer support.

Staying present

To meaningfully connect, it is important to be present, focusing on the people physically there. But it can be hard not to think about work or other obligations. With today’s constant connections, it can be especially hard to turn off smart phones and other distracting “shiny things.” Here a great story of what the University of Maryland women’s basketball team discovered when they gave up their cellphones.

In addition to being present when in a group, paying attention when someone leaves a gathering and a hole forms is also fascinating. How is the void filled in? Does the group disband?

About Gatherings

I began this encaustic triptych with the middle panel, while recalling a curiously simple dream instructing me to darn socks. Although I began sewing as a young girl, I never darned socks. So I researched and learned how to weave threads together to fill a hole. This VideoJug video shows the simple darning process to make a sock whole again.

While creating this middle panel and seeing the design take shape, I started thinking about how our lives are woven together through shared experiences. Birthday parties, weddings and public gatherings often mark these occasions.

The top panel followed, inspired by other kinds of gatherings such as dining at tables or participating in a religious ceremony. Some of the most powerful gatherings are at the bedside of an ill loved one or sharing grief and tears at the funeral of a family member or friend.

The bottom panel focuses on outside gatherings, such as nature hikes or seaside walks to share a sunset or moonrise.

It continually amazes me how a simple thing, like this short dream, can guide me from thoughts to art!

Which gatherings are most significant to you?

  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.

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Balancing Act

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Balancing Act II."
Balancing Act | mixed media (sold)
 
Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Balancing Act."
Balancing Act II | encaustic (sold)

Running, jumping, balancing… yes!

Dreamscape… I’m in a fitness center, walking on a treadmill while a small group gathers on nearby mats for an aerobics class. The instructor begins class and everyone starts moving to the music. I like the music and find myself walking to the beat. I’m having fun and before I realize it, I’m running and jumping. I didn’t know I could move like this any more! So I keep going, dancing and elevating on my toes with perfect balance, thoroughly enjoying that I can, once again, move my body this way. 

Finding balance

When I’ve experienced awful things, it can feel like ages drag by as I move through the rawness. But through processing the situation, the intensity of the feelings and details often fade over time. Similar steps unfold for wonderful experiences, although I want the happiness and good feeling to last longer.

With faith, hope, perseverance, hard work and others’ support, I make it through. And at some point, I find a new balance point after integrating the “before” with the “after.”

Rediscovery

Sometimes, I rediscover a valuable something that I previously thought was lost forever. When this happens, my heart wants to dance and jump again, up on my toes with elation. But staying up there for even a few seconds requires immense focus and strength. As I come back down, I appreciate even more the mystery of life and its changes.

I hope you might also enjoy these related ideas from others:

  • As a child, I read “The Little Engine that Could,” by Watty Piper. It’s helpful to remember “I think I can, I think I can, repeat…” Here’s a history of this story by Roy E. Plotnick.
  • In a medical context, “The Anatomy of Hope” by Dr. Jerome Groopman, explores the role of hope in treating seriously ill people. This summary is in the NYU School of Medicine’s database.
  • The contemplative song, “Before and After,” by Carrie Newcomer, features Marin Chapin Carpenter.

About Balancing Act and Balancing Act II

I felt so great when I awoke from the dream above that I decided to paint it not once, but twice! I explored the different results I could achieve using mixed media or encaustic. I also turned on some happy dance music while I was painting, to help me capture the energy of sound and movement.

How do you regain balance?

  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 artwork, contact Janet Fox.