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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?

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

 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.

  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 and/or its companion art, both on exhibit at David’s Café Gallery, located in the Parkview Building at 1300 Spring Street in Silver Spring, Maryland, 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?

  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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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?

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

  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?

  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.

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?

  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.

Seaside Dancer

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Seaside Dancer."
Seaside Dancer | encaustic

Relaxing at the seaside

Like many people, I’ve taken a beautiful trip to a sunny and warm seaside. I walked on the beach, scoured the sand to find shells and other tidbits, watched the birds in search for food, and felt the warmth of the sun and rhythms of the waves. I walked in the shallow water with family and friends, touching the refreshing coolness on a warm afternoon. I played in the fine sand building castles and covering up feet. And I watched countless others also enjoying the same beach.

The sunny seaside can be so relaxing, rejuvenating and fun. But don’t take my word for it. This article about a new book by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols offers scientific explanations why looking at, being around, in or under the water can make us feel better in many ways.

Are you a dancer by the sea?

Here’s a challenge… can you try to NOT get caught up in the movement of this upbeat beach dance video? Of course the seaside also has days of cold, howling winds, rain, ice and deadly storms. But it is so much fun to dance at the water’s edge on a beautiful day.

Like many of my other paintings, I found inspiration for this piece at the water’s edge. This encaustic painting, “Seaside Dancer” captures a somewhat reflective tone of a solo dancer with a flowing aqua-marine scarf blowing in the breeze. It is one of several artworks in a seaside-themed grouping.

What do you like to do at the seaside?

 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 in Gallery 209 (located in the Artists & Makers Studios 2, at 12276 Wilkins Ave., Rockville, Maryland 20852) through July 4, 2017, contact Janet Fox.

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Holding It All Together

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Holding It All Together."
Holding It All Together | encaustic

What are the ties that connect and hold us together?

Recent conversations with a family member have got me to thinking about my grandparents, great-grandparents and the many relatives in the generations that came before. Where did they come from? What kinds of lives did they have? What were they like?

Shared genes, names, homes, experiences and memories held them together. Why did some drift apart or let go of what they had to start new lives in distant lands? When they went elsewhere, how did they create new connections and families? Might I discover distant connections if I explored histories of my current friends whose ancestors also came from similar places?

Families come in many different forms

According to Merriam Webster, family definitions include a group of people who are related to each other, a person’s children or people with common ancestors. Many also consider their closest friends as chosen family, since they often grow together through significant shared experiences.

In honor of all families, here’s an upbeat little musical clip that I think you will enjoy!

Piecing things together through art

My family includes many quilters who cut shapes, sewing them together in various designs. They find fabric in thrift stores, usually pieces recovered in someone’s attic. They use outgrown children’s clothes, dad’s ugly ties or a son’s t-shirts. Some pieces are new from a fabric store. With imagination, these quilt artists sew something beautiful and lasting.

I was thinking about my family’s quilters as I pieced together small scraps of my mixed media paintings for this mini art quilt. After selecting the pieces, I carefully cut out and stitched around each block with gold thread and then joined these blocks together over a thin paper backing. The result is this 3-D artwork, fused in encaustic over a wood base, with several pieces spilling over the wax edge.

What things and what threads do you hold together?

  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.