dreamer

Seven Directions Mandala

An encaustic mandala painting "Seven Directions Mandala" by Janet Fox with rainbow colors
Seven Directions Mandala | encaustic mixed media

Seven Directions Mandala

Sometime in the 1990’s, I went to a workshop to learn how to make a seven-sided drum head. A Native American man led the workshop and shared a beautiful story of a quest. Each side of the drum head represented one day in the story. Although I no longer recall his story exactly, it influenced my version…

Once upon a dreamtime, a very curious girl was outside, dancing freely and twirling around in her secret garden. She spent many hours there, tending to the flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruit, and all the creatures living there. The girl loved to bathe in the aroma of the sweet flowers, run through the basil, dill and thyme, and gently crumple the rich soil between her fingers before planting seeds.

She did not know it, but she was about to set out to find a great treasure.

On the first day, she heard an infant cooing, so she followed her sound to the east, all the way to the sea. But she did not find the treasure.

Next, on the second day, she followed a little girl to the west, over the farthest and highest mountains. But the treasure was not there, either.

Then on the third day, she met a fierce maiden, and together, they went to the north, over the frozen tundra and icy glaciers. Once again, they did not find the treasure.

Now on the fourth day, she saw a great commotion and in the middle, found a bride. Together, they went south and through the great tropical forests. They looked and looked, but they did not find the treasure there.

On the fifth day, she came upon a mother. Together, they flew up, through the clouds, past the moon and the sun and stars and back. No matter how far they went, they could not find the treasure.

But she would not give up. On the sixth day, she met an old grandmother in the shadow of a tree by the seaside. They went down, under the sea and to the bottom of the deepest ocean canyons and caves. But after all of the swimming and searching, they still did not find the treasure.

The seventh dawned and the girl was very discouraged. She had gone in every direction she knew of to find the treasure and didn’t know where else to turn. Then in the middle of the garden, in the tall grasses, she noticed a Scarlet Boa. She had seen it before from afar, but during all her time exploring in the garden, she had not found the courage to look at it up close. Mustering all of her energy, the girl gazed at it and soon noticed its beautiful skin of smooth scales in all shades of red, rose, and burgundy.

While the girl did not know it, the Scarlet Boa had been with her on all of her travels, watching over her for her safety. She began to understand that it was her spirit animal, her friend and protector. As the girl watched, the scarlet boa began dancing and twisting around in circles. She was mesmerized and lost track of its tail… and then she realized that was because it was swallowing it!

Suddenly, she knew exactly where to turn to find her treasure. There was one more direction yet to go, one that she hadn’t even thought of to explore.

The girl closed her eyes, quieted her mind, and began counting her breaths in and out. At first, it was quiet and dark but as her eyes adjusted, she began to see the tiniest pinpoint of light coming from a place deep within. As she ventured toward it, the light very gradually grew in size, beckoning her to come closer. As the girl did so, she was overcome by a loving warmth, the greatest peacefulness she had ever experienced. For she had discovered her treasure; it was inside of her all along. At last, she had discovered her center, and she was at home.

Finding the peaceful home within

Does this story resonate with you? In my experience, I’ve had many times when I didn’t know what to do, so I looked outward for guidance. I spent many days, months, and years looking. But somewhere along the way, someone asked me to hold up my hand and point to the place where I’d look next. And then, as my index finger pointed outward, they asked me what my other three fingers were doing.

Those other three fingers pointed back at me, directly towards my own center. Ah-ha!

Looking internally, I began to discover the wondrous, mysterious world of my dreams. That was a long time ago and my dream explorations have been so lively and rich, with many ah-ha moments, especially when sharing with a friend or within a trusted dream group. I’ve also enjoyed dialoging with and honoring my dreams, especially through making art (many examples which are on this site). And although my dreams have personal meanings and significance, I’ve also learned that others taking on one of my dreams-as if it were there own-can find their own ah-ha’s. And I’ve discovered my own ah-ha’s when I’ve taken on their dreams, too. I feel so alive when this happens!

What is a mandala?

According to Wikipedia, in common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe. It’s easy to get absorbed in making a mandala – figuring out symmetry, adding symbols, filling in shapes with colors and details.

Besides thinking of the story above, my art is loosely inspired by the amazing detailed temple murals by Shashi Dhoj Tulachan at the Bowers Museum in Anaheim, California. If you’re in the area, stop by to see the ongoing exhibit, Sacred Realms: Temple Murals by Shashi Dhoj Tulachan From the Gayle and Edward P. Roski Collection.

About Seven Directions Mandala

Seven Directions Mandala is an original encaustic painting, with pastel, shellac, and ink. I enjoy the garden, flowers, and energy in this story. The seven sections are for each direction, and the colors represent the energy chakra regions of a human. Somehow, all of these ideas came together for me in this painting. What do you see in it? Enjoy!

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

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Shedding Fear

Shedding Fear | encaustic mixed media

Shedding Fear

Shedding Fear is an original encaustic mixed media painting inspired by a series of vivid dreams which began many years ago. In each of the dreams, a bright red snake takes center stage. Most often, it is a scarlet boa constrictor. In the following dream, however, a scarlet cobra is the main character…

Once upon a dreamscape, a woman discovers a giant cobra in her house. It is about 10 feet long and if she startles it, the cobra puffs up its cobra neck, hisses, and scares the bejeebers out of the woman.

She loses sight of the cobra. The woman and her male companion now crouch on the top of a tall bookcase, hunched into a ball because they are close to the ceiling. They want to be sure they are as far away from the cobra as possible. Then the woman takes a peek at the bookcase shelf right under them and realizes the cobra is right there, all coiled up, too! Now what?

The woman and her companion have now magically moved around the room and then around the house in and out of various rooms. Scarlet cobra is always close by and after a while, it doesn’t seem to mind us, and we don’t mind it either. We get used to each other, and Scarlet only hisses if I get too close. I marvel at Scarlet’s bright color; the red is so vivid and energized. I realize I’ve seen a bright red snake, but a boa constrictor, in my dreams before. So I realize I am in a lucid state. I’m no longer afraid of Scarlet and realize she’s not really poisonous, after all. I awaken with a feeling that something important has shifted.

A colorful dream character calls out

This dreamscape especially grabbed my attention because I was aware that I was dreaming and in a lucid state. I only occasionally have lucid dreams, so I definitely pay attention when I do. Within the dream, I remembered encountering scarlet boas before, but the only places were within past dreams. And having previously explored and created art based on those earlier dreams, I have an idea what this colorful character means – for me. Some examples and art inspired by those previous dreams are Transformation of a Scarlet Boa.

Curiously, when I’ve shared this dream with others, they’ve responded generally in two ways. If they have a fear of snakes, they react by stepping back and saying how much snakes scare them. Others are fascinated by snakes, leading them to take a very close look. Both can lead to lively conversations!

While researching this topic, I came across, “Snake Dreams and their Hidden Meanings,” by author Amy E. Brucker on The Dream Tribe. In it, Ms. Brucker explores various snake imagery throughout history. I was intrigued further by her focus on the healing aspects of the snake.

So in this episode in my scarlet snake dream series, I had a healthy fear of its danger. But, somehow, I also learned to live with this it in my space. When I shift my perception from fear to healing, the dream takes on a whole new feeling and ah-ha! Perhaps in my own shift, my companion learns to live with the healing snake energy, too.

What do we fear?

This is an intriguing question with as many different answers as there are people. There are so many things to be afraid of… being terribly sick, having a horrible accident, losing someone close, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc. We each have our own fears to face. And how can we go about shedding fear?

  • From the Cut, here are Quotes from 25 Famous Women on Fear, and overcoming it. Very inspirational!
  • One of my favorite quotes by author Marianne Williamson, in “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” (1992). I’ve also seen this quote mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

  • And here’s a fun take on snakes – Bela Fleck’s Snakes Alive musical creation.

About Shedding Fear

This 15″ x 15″ encaustic art piece is also inspired by an actual snake skin, one that I found in my garden compost bin. I assume the snake that molted was either hiding really well or long gone. Looking at this snake skin up close, it was very thin and fragile. With rectangular, oblong, and smaller oval segments, I marveled at its construction and form. The head portion had space for the snake’s eyes and mouth. I had to hold it very carefully, very gingerly. Which also got me to thinking about fear. Could fear be thin and fragile, too? If I could just let it go, would it shrivel up and crumble?

Next, after creating the main painting of the shed skin up close, I created the miniature snake from paper clay, then painted it to resemble a Scarlet Boa, but with a bit more red.

Then to finish it, the miniature Scarlet Boa needed to be resting on, wait for it… a bright red feather from a fluffy scarlet feather boa!

 For information about viewing or purchasing this or related artwork, contact Janet Fox. Check out my Encaustic Portfolio for several smaller companion pieces.

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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

She 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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The Little Girl’s Dream

A sneak peek of "The Little Girl's Dream," an encaustic artwork (sold)
The Little Girl’s Dream | encaustic mixed media on wood (sold)

The Little Girl’s Dream is an encaustic painting reflecting on the earliest dream I recall ever having. The image above is a sneak peek at part of it.

I’ll present about both at DREAM ART: Connecting to the Dream World through Art, Annilee Oppenheimer and Janet Fox, at the Jung Society of Washington on Friday evening, October 13th. Ms. Oppenheimer will begin introducing the topic of dreams and dream circles. I’ll follow with a recounting of my first dream and my process of creating this artwork. I’m looking forward to lively conversation.

One thing I can reveal now is that while creating this painting, I came upon stories of Vasilisa and her trek to find Baba Yaga.

Which also led me to this wonderful performance of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, including Baba Yaga.

This is so much fun already… dream on!

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Dreamer’s Orb Cooling Irons in the Fire

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "The Dreamer's Orb."
The Dreamer’s Orb | encaustic (sold)

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’s symbolism

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.

This painting was also selected as the cover art for the spring 2016 issue of The Rose In The World.

How do you “too many irons in the fire?”

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

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