Sometimes I feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Other times, I feel like a square hole, seeking a round peg. In both situations, the fit just isn’t quite right. When I can stretch myself in the direction of something where I don’t usually fit, I feel like it also gives a little and meets me somewhere in between. And when the squound and rare come together, it feels like magic.
Finding “perfection” is often a matter of adjusting my expectations, attitude, and seeing a different point of view. Is that yellow dandelion in my yard a weed to uproot? Or is it a delicate yellow flower that will be in a child’s bouquet? Is the painting finished by a gut feeling, or does my brain tell me I need to add one more spot of paint? Is that pain in my back a curse that torments, or a gift reminding me that I can feel sensations? As in many things I’ve experienced, is it really some of both, rather than one or the other.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough. I’ve heard this many times before. Sometimes adding another small detail would be nice, but I need to stop to do other things. Prioritizing can help, so that I can do what is crucial first, then I can add less important items as time allows. I’ve found that practicing painting with a timer can also keep me from over-thinking things. I’m also practicing “listening to the painting,” letting it tell me when it’s finished.
About Squound Hole, Rare Peg
My encaustic painting, Squound Hole, Rare Peg is inspired by the same dream as was my Dreamers Orb painting, where molten iron was thrown over the edge of a roof, forming a square-round ingot as it rained down. I used my favorite complementary colors, turquoise and rust, highlighted in gold. And creating that perfect fit felt kind of magical!
On this day, and especially with June and a focus on Fathers Day ahead, I’m focusing on the ageless wise man. In my recent companion post about the Wise Woman, I noted that I often awaken in the morning, lie still for a few minutes, and try to set an intention for the day. So today, I’m thinking of and looking for the wise man. Where can I find him? If and when I find him, what questions will I ask?
Characteristics of the wise man
Who is this wise man? He is the one who knows all things from a masculine perspective. I don’t think there is such a being within one person, but I try to look for core characteristics in the many people, male and female, who I will meet today. When I think of male energy figures, I think he is a provider, protector, resourceful, a teacher. He knows how to work hard and work smart, and can show me how I can also do the same.
When I ask him to do something for me that I’m not quite sure of, he might ask me if I can spell the word “able.” When I spell it correctly, he might then say, “If you can spell it, you can do it!” In saying this, he is telling me he has confidence in me and I should try it myself. Or he might encourage me to reach for that apple out on the limb of the apple tree, giving me confidence to overcome my fear by allowing me stretch out while he stands below, ready to catch me in case I slip.
Other wise men I think of are steady in the midst of chaos. They don’t easily get rattled by insults and don’t get into fights… unless it is the last resort. He has a sort of power and knows how to use it to make the world a better place. I recently attended one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve every witnessed. The groom teared up during the ceremony as the emotions swelled… and it was quite moving and powerful!
You might like what a few others have to say about the wise man:
With June’s celebration of Fathers Day in mind, I created this encaustic mixed-media painting in honor of the many wise men in the world. Since it is a companion painting to Today With the Wise Woman, I also used my favorite colors, but in the opposite way with rust color surrounding the male symbol (also the symbol of the planet Mars) with turquoise highlights. The wires originating from the center follow a path pouring outward through the arrow. The short poem encircling the symbol leads to the bigger note: “Today With the Ageless Wise Man.”
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork and/or its companion art, contact Janet Fox.
Today, I’m thinking of the ageless wise woman. When I wake up in the morning, I often spend a few minutes lying still, listening to my body and thankful that I’m alive for another day. Most days have a schedule. But on days that don’t, I like to choose an intention and see if I can work on it throughout the day. Some days, I think of who I might see and what question I might ask of them.
Characteristics of the wise woman
Who is this wise woman? She is the one who knows all things from a feminine perspective. I don’t think there is such a being within one person, but I try to look for core characteristics in the many people, female and male, who I will meet today.
Business woman, author and broadcaster Lynne Franks’ presents wise women traits in this TEDxWhitehallWomen video. In it, she notes traits of responsibility, connection, laughter, creativity, leadership, teaching, nurturing, confidence-building, mentoring, integrity, courage, and bridge-building to generations of the future. I’m also reminded of the Hindu goddess Kali, who is a creator but also known for being a destroyer of what is no longer helpful, especially the dark forces.
I’ve been fortunate to know many wise women. They show strength, vulnerability, compassion, humility, respect, love. They use their smarts, experience, and hearts to make the world a better place.
Hmmm. Is it laughter, creativity, leadership, mentoring, courage, letting go of something… or something else I need today? When the opportunity is here, will I serve as a mentor to another? How will I make the world a better place for the generations of the future? What can I contribute? How does my purpose today fit into the purpose for my life?
About Today with the Wise Woman
With May’s celebration of Mothers Day, I created this encaustic mixed-media painting in honor of the many wise women in the world. I used my favorite turquoise to surround the rust-colored feminine symbol, which also happens to be the sign and the color for the planet Venus. The tiny round glass beads fit nicely with the larger copper staff with the carved bead. The short poem encircling the symbol leads to the bigger note: “Today With the Ageless Wise Woman.” It’s companion painting, Today With the Wise Man, is my next post.
⇒ For information about purchasing this artwork and/or its companion art, contact Janet Fox.
Many days when waking up, I marvel and am grateful that I’m alive and present for another day. While setting my intention, I often wonder what lies ahead and how I might respond. I pray for guidance that my actions and words will be a force for healing and for making the world a better place. A while back, I read a great book about healing. Peter Levine’s “Waking the Tiger,” focuses on trauma, its impacts, and how to find healing. He presents examples of how animals in the wild naturally release the energy of a trauma after the threat has passed. As humans, though, we’ve learned to hold that intense “tiger” energy inside, where it can wreak havoc and cause pain. Levine presents ways to revisit old traumas and to safely release the buried and stuck energy. In practicing many of these techniques, I’ve come to understand difficult experiences in a new light. It can also feel really great to growl like a tiger, feel the vibration in my throat, and hear the roar come from my own voice.
Tigers in the wild
How are tigers living in the world today? According to Wikipedia, tigers are generally solitary although social animals requiring large areas of territory to support their prey. But due to conflicts with humans, including reduced habitat and poaching, they are endangered with fewer than 4,000 in the wild. This beautiful National Geographic video gives a rare look into the lives of several wild tigers in India and their cubs. It’s fascinating to observe how they relate to each other. I’m also amazed that the videographer could get close enough for filming!
A tiger as a dream symbol
Dream images often inspire my art so I researched a tiger from a Jungian perspective. A Knoji.com article about lions and tigers in dreams describes how a person’s associations to these powerful animals is important to understanding the dream’s message. Is a dream tiger ferociously chasing? Or is it soft like a stuffed toy? Is it in a cage, in an effort to keep it safely contained? Am I engaging with it or watching from afar? I imagine running with a tiger kind of spirit requires speed, cautious fearlessness, and a sort of instinctual trusting that I have the ability to stand my ground, protect myself, or flee.
About Run With The Tiger
Reflecting on those morning questions, past traumas, dreamtime images and the glimpse of real tigers inspired me to write the poem. After building it into the painting’s foundation, I fused several layers of encaustic paint, while combing into the orange, yellow, light and dark fur areas. The music line fit perfectly out of my reflections. Although life’s traumas can feel all-consuming, going through them can result in a greater appreciation and counting my blessings of what remains.
Looking as honestly as possible at something traumatic takes courage. Courage to face fear, which is perhaps what it might feel like to look a tiger in the eye. Facing down danger. Facing down death. By facing death, I can perhaps experience life more fully.
How do you perceive the tiger?
⇒For information about purchasing a similar artwork, contact Janet Fox.
The dreamer’s dreamscape… I’m in a big city, sometime during the daylight. I’m positioned high enough to see onto the flat rooftops of multi-story buildings. On one in particular, I see a small group of burly men working with vats of molten iron. The first man, with dark hair and closest to the roof’s edge, takes a shovel full of the hot liquid iron and puts it into the second vat. The man at this second vat then does the same thing, shoveling it into a third vat. The third man does the same thing again, into a fourth vat.
Suddenly, my attention speeds back to the first man. As he toils away, a spec of the hot iron splashes on his arm and he thunders out a throaty roar as it burns him. Instantly angry, he throws a little blob of the molten metal from his shovel and over the edge of the roof.
Instantly, my perspective changes and I’m down in the beautiful cool green park below. I see that the hot blob raining down has formed a small ingot as it cooled off. This ingot is orb-shaped and simultaneously also forms a small rectangle, which slightly protrudes from one side of the orb. The rectangle has a company’s logo on it, although I don’t recognize it.
I’m far enough from the building and safely out of the way. I hope none of these flying blobs will hit anyone innocently walking by, as it would definitely hurt… or worse. I think I need to warn them, although I don’t see anyone else in the area. I’m also not sure how I would warn them…
The heat of raw energy
Exploring this dreamscape, I’m struck by the intense masculine energy on that flat roof. Big, burly men in repetitive, machine-like actions that no weak or refined person could, or would, do. This intense raw energy is a brute force to witness. But there’s not any particular end purpose, such as a molded metal object, for all of this doing. Or perhaps the purpose is to gradually cool off the hot metal.
Pain and anger instantly spark, though, when the heat burns. The instinctive masculine energy cries out, forcefully throwing the molten iron away after it has hurt him. And he does so without regard to what, or who, might be below.
Calling cool and calm energy
As my dreamer’s perspective changes, so does the feeling. It’s almost tranquil in the coolness and greenery of the park below. The energy in this space feels much more feminine and nurturing. But in this park space, which could easily be full of playing children and their adults, people could be at grave risk of being hurt from above. My dreamer is thinking ahead, but thankfully, no one is in immediate danger.
Dropping molten metal from a roof
Reflecting on the raining hot metal reminded me of historic “shot towers” in our country’s early days. In the 1800’s, men built and used these towers, such as the Philadephia’s Sparks Shot Tower, to more efficiently make lead bullets for muskets. They dropped molten lead (not iron) from the top of the tower into cooling water below, forming round bullets. Hopefully, nobody below was hit by any of the cooling bullets!
Iron is a curious part of this dream. Iron, by mass, is the most common element on Earth. We use iron, combined with other materials that strengthen it, for so many structures and objects. It’s also a critical component of our red blood cells, transporting oxygen throughout our bodies.
Mars, often associated with the masculine, is red due to high iron content. Iron’s atomic symbol is “Fe.” In the context of this dream, these two letters also start the word “fe”male. In past days, “ironing” clothing was often women’s work. And how many times have we had “too many irons in the fire?”
About The Dreamer’s Orb
While creating this dream-inspired encaustic painting, I focused on finding harmony between masculine and feminine energies. Choosing simple lines, shapes and color palette felt right. I’m enjoying exploring this dream imagery and with many other ideas swirling in my head, The Dreamer’s Orb will be the first in an eventual series.
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?
⇒For information about commissioning a similar artwork, contactJanet Fox.
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.
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?
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.
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?
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork, contactJanet Fox.
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.
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.
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?
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.Save
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?
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork, contactJanet Fox.
I’m thrilled to be theBethesda (MD) Public LibraryFeatured 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.”
Dreamscape… I’m in my apartment. Someone tells me to be very careful moving around because a scarlet boa constrictor has somehow gotten in. I creep slowly in a circular fashion through the living room, dining room and kitchen. I see it, coiled up in a corner next to a big basket. I know I must catch and remove it. For if it bites me, I will be poisoned and get extremely sick or die.
What is a scarlet boa?
With vivid and colorful dreams like this one, I enjoy researching the symbols and actions to explore connections that cross over into waking life. For example and to my amazement, I discovered there actually is a boa that’s partly red. Originally from tropical areas, the “boa constrictor constrictor” is also known as the red-tailed boa. Here’s a beautiful Wired photo of one and some interesting red-tailed boa facts from animals.mom.me. Many people have them as pets, as they are nonpoisonous. They can grow to more than 10 feet long, 50 pounds in weight and 30 years old in captivity.
As the name suggests, boas kill their prey by squeezing it to death. They are carnivores and eat small rodents, amphibians, snakes, and birds. They don’t eat people and are nonpoisonous. So within this dreamscape, what I thought I knew was not entirely correct and was, unnecessarily perhaps, causing me to be cautious and afraid. Nevertheless, I’m not a snake person and didn’t want to live with one in my space. But how on Earth did a boa, and a scarlet one at that, get inside my living space? Was it living in the blackberry patch outside and got lost?
The boa’s transformation
While previously working with this dream image, I created a painting of a large, coiled red snake. I placed it safely behind bars inside a cage. Recently, I cut apart this painting, transforming it into the three artworks in this post.
The first piece, at the top of this post, symbolizes the bridge from dream time to waking time.
The second painting symbolically moved the boa back outside. I put this one in a sunny blackberry patch, where I’ve seen other snakes.
Since it is springtime with new growth appearing everywhere, I recreated the boa in the third piece. This new bloom appeared. The blossom’s color reflects a glimmer of its scarlet past.
How would you make something scary safe?
⇒For information about commissioning similar artwork or, contactJanet Fox.