dream

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!

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.

Dreamtime Journey

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere."
Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere | encaustic | Honorable Mention Award,  Montgomery Art Association’s “Paint the Town 2015”

Where do I journey while dreaming?

In waking life, I often think about where I am going. I seek immediate and longer term answers. I equally think about sleep-time journeys. Dream settings, characters and actions can be so fantastical. While dreaming, I’ve been in structures and vehicles, on land and over mountains. I’ve flown above and through the treetops, leaped off cliffs and visited under water. I recognize some places, while others are unfamiliar. Sometimes I know who I’m with; other times I don’t.

Do I choose these travels?

Dreams take me on travels magical, heavenly, spiritual, mysterious, fantastic and scary. Sometimes the feeling is very calm; other times action-packed. Before falling asleep, I like to focus on a question or something that I need guidance about. If I remember a dream upon waking, I enjoy reflecting on both the dream story and the question. Over the years, I’ve learned my unique internal language. I continue to be intrigued and full of wonder by these night-time wanderings.

Others’ ideas about dream journeys

About Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere

For this encaustic painting, I used some of my favorite colors… copper and aqua-marine or turquoise. I wanted to capture the idea that dreams are mini-journeys in the dark, guided by the reflected light of the moon, and often with a surprise on the other side. Somehow the saying, “All who wander are not lost,” seems to fit.

 For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

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Power Surge (encaustic)

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

Power Birthing, the Latest Hot Flash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some words of wisdom from others:

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

How do  you know when your creation is finished?

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

  For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

Water and a Cool Wave (mixed media)

Image of an encaustic mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Cool Wave."
Cool Wave | mixed media

Splash in the Cool Waves; Visit the Peaceful Water Spirits

Once upon a dream, a girl-woman strolled next to a stream. Or maybe it was a river, lake or ocean. The water was calm now, although sometimes it was not.

When calm, she clearly saw the fishes and plants below the surface; other times, all was a mucky blur. She liked walking in the shallow water, floating, swimming and splashing in the cool waves. There was much to explore on the shoreline while gently uncovering rocks and shells, too.

Mostly she went to these places alone, but one time her father spirit came to meet her. He invited her to go to the depths with him to visit the beautiful, peaceful blue flame spirits residing in the underwater realm.

She then returned to the surface, alone but with the kind of knowing that can’t be unknown.

Water

Probably like you, I have had many dreams of being around, in or under the water. Especially when a dream is vivid or intense, it captures my attention. These are the dreams I most enjoy exploring in more depth, primarily through my art; an example is “Cool Wave.”

There are many ideas and articles about the significance of water in dreams. Psychotherapist and author Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., M.T.S., L.C.P.C.’s blog is a good place to start.

In addition to the symbolism of water, it is a significant part of what we are made of. It amounts to an estimated 53 to 75 percent of an average human adult’s body weight.

Like different water bodies, life’s challenges and transitions can be calm or not… or somewhere in-between. Sometimes in life, paths are clear. But other times, the path is unknown with no directional signs and requiring a leap of faith to go down a chosen path. Often paths have many intersections, side streets, diversions, detours, forks. Some paths are beautiful with roses to stop and smell. Others not so much. Most are unfamiliar yet ordinary.

In the dreamscape above, the father spirit appeared as a kind, strong and protective guardian accompanying the girl-woman into an unknown realm. Had she gone alone, she may not have found the spirits gathered there nor understood what they were. This dream experience was quite peaceful, both then and now.

If you have had dreams of water, what did they feel like?

 For information about purchasing this art, contact Janet Fox.

Innocence (mixed media art)

Image of a mixed media art painting by Janet Fox titled "Innocence."
Innocence | mixed media (nfs)

Dreams of Art. Art of Dreams. Sometimes one appears first. Other times, both appear together.

What is a Dream? What is Art?

Welcome to my website created to share my art and provoke thought and conversation. What is a dream? A dream can play out while sleeping; sometimes, I think about an especially vivid dream while I paint. But a dream can also be what I want to do or achieve, people or places to visit, or a vision or purpose for my life. So with this meaning, my dream has also been to create art.

I collaged this mixed media art, Innocence, while reflecting on when I was a young girl who loved making things with fabrics. Sewing was not only a practical craft, but it was a fun creative outlet using woven or knit solids or prints plus thread, zippers, buttons, elastic, and other notions. I also learned the language and process of sewing with tissue patterns and how to operate a sewing machine, fortunately without sewing through my fingers!

Going to the fabric store with my mom and getting lost in the dreamy yards of smooth, rough, silky, and sheer colors and textures was heaven. I spent hours paging through pattern catalogs, often with sisters or friends, trying to envision wearing the garments pictured in the fabrics I liked or designing my own styles.

One of my first wearable creations was a simple dress, made from red cotton with bright blue and white flowers. I felt wonderful in it because it poofed out when I spun around fast and I had made it mostly by myself. I also loved the creative feeling I had while wearing that dress.

Although I have shifted away from wearable art, my media today continues a process of combining materials. I now layer wax, paper, paint, fabric, and other materials to create contemporary art paintings. I am inspired by nature or other topics of the day that capture my attention, in addition to the curious content of dreams. Having spent more than a decade exploring my and others’ sleep-time dreams, I find visual representations of themes, characters, and settings to be an energizing way to interact with this dream imagery.

Much like pursuing a dream has twists and turns, so does the path for my art. I enjoy where the creative process takes me and I usually like the resulting painting, too.

I hope you enjoy my website and blog as much as I’ve enjoyed and learned by creating it.

Thanks for visiting. I look forward to your comments.

How are you pursuing your dream? If you are not, is there something holding you back?

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