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Two Fish in the Pool

Close-up image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Two Fish in the Pool."
Two Fish in the Pool | encaustic and pastel

Two Fish in the Pool

Sleep-time dreams have fascinated me since I was a child. Often, I wake up with an adventure of some kind to write down in my dream journal. But when I awoke on a late February morning, I had no memory of a dream. Instead, I learned that I had been talking in my sleep. Intrigued, I created Two Fish in the Pool. In my slumber, I had said these words: “I put two fish in the pool. In the POOL!”

Sleep Talking

Why two fish? What kind of pool? Why did I put them there? Did it remind me of anything or any place where I’ve been before?

I remembered a former home where we built a small fish pond with a waterfall in the back yard. We filled the little pond with a few beautiful koi and also some feeder goldfish rescued from the bait and tackle shop. It was very relaxing to sit by the pond, watching the fish swim around and come to the surface when we dropped food pellets into the water and sometimes chase each other. It was also a fantastic “in the moment” meditation spot: listening to the sounds of the water, the birds chirping, and the road in the distance. Combined with sweet aromas of water lilies and other garden plant, I would sometimes gently tap on my drum. If conditions were right, at a certain point it all melded together, like being in a symphony with the surroundings. It was such a refreshing experience and warm memory.

Pisces

I also went googling to see what text, images, or ideas would strike my fancy. Searching for “two fish” led to me Pisces, the zodiac sign for people born between February 18th – March 20th. Since this experience occurred during this period, I decided to continue exploring this idea in my art studio:

Close-up image of an encaustic and watercolor painting by Janet Fox titled "From the Sea."
From the Sea | encaustic and watercolor
  • The images of Pisces showed two fish swimming in opposite directions. But as I created some mock-up pieces, what I painted was less direction-ally defined. For although the two fish are going in opposite directions, they could just as easily turn and chase each other in a playful or frantic circle.
  • I’ve often dreamt of water, either being close to the shore, walking in the waves, or completely submerged and in a different underwater realm. This painting focused on the narrow space, just below the surface of the crystal clear water.
  • A few of my other water-themed encaustic or mixed paintings include: From the Sea (shown), which has a similar vibe, Submerged, Seaside Dancer, Rain Drip, and Cool Water.
  • I also have two acrylic paintings, one of the beautiful southern Oregon shore and one of the Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island.

About Two Fish in the Pool

I used my favorite turquoise and copper orange family of colors in this 12″ x 12″ encaustic painting on a cradled board. After carving the scales, fins, and other marks into the encaustic, I filled in with more color. The finishing touches were those sleep-spoken words and, for good measure, a Pisces symbol ♓.

 For information about viewing or purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

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She Chi

Close-up image of an encaustic mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "She Chi."
She Chi (focal panel) | encaustic mixed media

Shi Chi or feminine energy

She Chi is an original, 7-panel, encaustic mixed media painting inspired by an amazing springtime dream that went something like this…

Once upon a dreamscape, a woman was spending a quiet spring evening in a peaceful secluded park at the edge of a forest. Positioned up a bit on a hillside, she sees train tracks over yonder with a very unusual train. The train’s cars were open face, with flat beds and many cozy spaces.

One of the cars, toward the back, is humming with a lot of motion. As she zooms her eyes and focuses in, she realizes the car is full of something living. It is full of all kinds of incredible talking ovaries!” They are fully alive and chattering amongst themselves, but only about what they know best…every and all kind of egg thing imaginable! Some were quiet and in serious conversations, while others were joking and laughing. This was a surprising and curious sight, indeed!

The next car toward the front on the train is similar, except it is full of stomachs! They were busy talking about what they know best… all kinds of stomach things! And so it went like that all the way up to the front of the train, to where the brains were driving the engine.

Now on the track in front of this women’s train, a big, dark and hollow train was barely moving, all tuckered out with only a tiny spark of energy.

About now, “HER” voice from another realm is heard all around, filling every sound space. “SHE” directs the women’s train to approach the hollow train and to “drive through” it to fill it out from within. Once inside, the women’s train engine carefully makes its way through to the hollow train’s engine space, where it begins to settle down and fill it out.

Finally, as this union is complete, “SHE” declares the plan a success!…

A dream calls out to be painted

This dreamscape absolutely caught my attention; I was especially intrigued by the talking ovaries. The feminine voices must be heard: they were animated, energized, and speaking their truth in so many ways. This vivid dream was bound to inspire a painting, plus some interesting conversations and insight, too.

While working on some initial ideas and sketches, I researched to learn more about this area of the female body:

  • The Female Pelvis, Anatomy and Exercises,” by Blandine Calais-Germain, is filled with easy-to-understand text and illustrations showing the pelvic bones, how they are shaped, and how they move and work together. Separate chapters focus on the muscles, tendons, and organs. See how amazing this area is – able to dramatically expand and transform during pregnancy, childbirth, and then in later years. The book also shows targeted exercises to help keep this area healthy. While reading this book, I realized how much about this area I had not known before!
  • Turning to the emotional, psychological, and spiritual realms, “The Creation of Health” by Dr. C. Norman Shealy and intuitive Caroline M. Myss explores the flow – and blockages – of energy, or chi, in this second sacral chakra region.
  • And in the outer world, so many female voices are courageously speaking out, demanding to be heard and inspired by the #MeToo movement.

About She Chi

Seven panel image of an encaustic mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "She Chi."
She Chi | encaustic mixed media

This complete art piece includes 7 squares, each representing one of the chakra regions of a human being.

I emphasized the orange, second chakra area, with thin o-shaped coils of handwritten, egg and ovary-themed notepaper embedded in multiple layers of pigmented encaustic. A variety of round or egg-shaped beads fill many, but not all of the coils. Finally, the feminine charm in the painting’s center, perhaps symbolizing a sort of kundalini experience, provides the energy to push forth its truth.

 For information about viewing or purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

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CityScape Escape

Image of an encaustic and ink painting by Janet Fox titled "CityScape."
CityScape | encaustic and paper (sold)

Escaping in a Cityscape

I recently took a trip to Brooklyn, New York, to relax, see some art, and enjoy the cityscape. While there, I visited the awesome artworks in the Brooklyn Museum. Here’s a bit of how my rejuvenating day went…

First of all, imagine having a yummy brekky and a spiced chai concoction in a gluten-free friendly cafe on a lazy, sunny Saturday morning. Next, we meander along the city sidewalks, gazing at this and that in an assortment of interesting stop windows. Along the way, we discover it’s also an open art studio weekend.

Walking half-way down the block, we see an open studio. So we climb the steps and enter artist Doug Beube‘s studio and gallery. We are absolutely WOWed by his beautiful bookwork, collage and mixed media art! After spending an hour exploring and enjoying his work and chatting, we decide to buy his book, Breaking the Codex. (Mr. Beube’s website has a fantastic variety of his art; I think you’ll be amazed, too!)

As a result of our visit, we have a renewed sense of creative energy and continue our journey to the museum.

Almost to the Museum now, we see lots of people in motion, moving this way and that. Some are sitting, soaking up the sunshine. As we sit for a bit at the Museum front plaza, imagine looking down from the sky and seeing all the others arriving from different directions.

Discovering ancient encaustic paintings

Imagine now, entering the Museum and roaming lazily through the exhibits. Suddenly to my surprise and delight, I discover the famous ancient Fayum Mummy portraits on display on a wall across the room! I recognized them immediately but didn’t realize they were in the Museum. These paintings are some of the earliest known pieces using encaustic paint, which has become my favorite medium. As a result, photos of them are in many books about encaustic painting.

My favorites include Noblewoman and Mummy Portrait of a Man. I stand mesmerized and study them for what felt like a very long time. So many questions swirl in my head. Who, specifically, painted them? What techniques did she or he use? Finally, did the painters back then have any inkling that many, many generations later, half-way around the world, people in Brooklyn would be viewing and appreciating their art with awe?

About Cityscape

I set out creating Cityscape by starting with one of my earlier paintings, Unwinding. After heating and scraping away the paint, I added new layers of paper shapes and encaustic paint and medium. The rainbow of colors and shapes the diversity of people, structures, green spaces and energy. Going to the city to unwind and discover somethings old and new can be quite rejuvenating!

How do you unwind in the city?

 For information about purchasing a similar artwork, contact Janet Fox.

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Wise Woman

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Today With The Wise Woman."
Today With The Wise Woman | encaustic | 12″ h X 12″ w | 1st Place, Abstract & 3-D, Montgomery Art Association’s 2016 Creative Expressions

 

Seeking the ageless wise woman

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.

Here are a few other ideas about the wise woman:

Which energies do I need most today?

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

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Today With The Wise Man."
Today With The Wise Man | encaustic | 12″ h X 12″ w

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 is my next post.

For information about purchasing this artwork and/or its companion art, contact Janet Fox.

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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?

  For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.Save

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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?

  For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

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Transformation of a Scarlet Boa

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Crossing Over 2."
Crossing Over 2 | mixed media (sold)

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.

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Sun Kissed Blackberries."
Sun Kissed Blackberries | mixed media (sold)

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.

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Scarlet Bloom."
Scarlet Bloom | mixed media (sold)

How would you make something scary safe?

  For information about commissioning similar artwork or, contact Janet Fox.

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?

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

Art Cathedral Glass

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Art Cathedral Glass No. 1."
Art Cathedral Glass No. 1 | mixed media

Beautiful cathedral glass

Traveling is a great way to pull out of routine, learn about other places and people, explore questions, and expand one’s views. It’s also a great way to find inspiration.

I recently traveled to Switzerland. While there, I happened into the Grossmünster cathedral in Zürich, where I discovered the most beautiful stained glass windows. One of them, the Achatfenster (translated to “Agate Window”) by Sigmar Polke, captured my imagination. It appears as slices of agate melded together, very earthy yet opaque. I haven’t seen anything like it.

Why do so many cathedrals, churches and other iconic buildings have stained glass? The beautiful windows are purposely placed where many can appreciate and be inspired by them. Did you know that stained glass windows have been described as ‘illuminated wall decorations?’ Wikipedia has a wealth of information about stained glass.

Creativity in infinite forms

I think of creativity as a sacred gift. People are creative in a tremendous variety of ways including visual arts, music, writing, poetry and dance. Creativity is also required to invent tools and products, design and build structures and communities, grow and prepare food, practice medicine, solve complex computer engineering problems, and more. Parenting and relationships with others and our environment require creativity, too.

I practice my creativity, in part, by making art. I enjoy the sense of peaceful meditative energy while in my studio.

How do I view and care for my art?

How do I view the fruits of my creativity? As my interests, subjects and techniques change, what do I do with earlier work? How do I present my art to others? Do I try to ensure my art finds a good home?

For “Art Cathedral Glass No. 1,” my goal was to celebrate the mysteriousness of dreams. I cut shapes from several paintings containing thoughts penned after dreaming and chose colors to unify them.

After setting the art “glass” in the cathedral wall, I enhanced the window with a a bit of fluorescent paint. If viewing the painting with color LED or ultraviolet lights–such as those designed by SaikoLED–the viewer can see another perspective.

This painting celebrates my creativity, both from dream inspiration and my art studio, displayed as an art cathedral glass.

How do you practice and care for your creativity?

  For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.