gold

She and Her Shadows

encaustic painting of woman wearing a turquoise and copper headband with red feather with her dark and golden shadows
She and Her Shadows | encaustic mixed media

She and Her Shadows

One of the fascinating concepts I learned about over the years in dream study is that of the shadow. The negative or dark shadow, according to psychologist Carl Jung, holds those unconscious aspects of ourselves that we don’t want anyone, and most often not even ourselves, to acknowledge. These aspects are typically unconscious and something we judge as “unacceptable”, so we stuff them way in the back of our metaphorical closets.

As the concept goes, if someone really annoys me or gets on my nerves, there is something of that person’s traits that trigger my own dark shadow. Although I will deny this until I’m blue in the face, the heat or emotional reaction is the clue that this may be the case. If I find the courage and curiosity to explore and own up to this, I can grow into a more psychologically whole person.

In the opposite vein, if I really admire, am drawn to, or respect someone, there is something of that person’s “exceptional” traits that are part of my golden shadow. Again, the emotional reaction is the clue and exploring these traits can help me to own those parts of myself, too.

Honoring Shadow Energies

I’ve found shadow energy in so many dreams, as well as in waking life. This encaustic painting, She and Her Shadows, is my attempt to honor the discovery and doing of this internal work. The painting is 11.5″ wide X 18.5″ tall.

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

Merci Mère Thanks Mother

Image of an encaustic mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Merci Mère Thanks Mother."
Merci Mère Thanks Mother | encaustic mixed media

Merci Mère Thanks Mother

Merci Mère (Thanks Mother) is an original, encaustic mixed media painting. With aqua, gold and ivory paint and papers, as well as shellac burn technique, it includes these simple words from a French storybook dictionary.

Creating something new, without a specific outcome in mind, can be a wonderfully relaxing process. In this painting, I began by collecting and gathering the various elements: art papers in my favorite colors, with some incorporating leaves.

Next, I arranged and re-arranged these elements, until I found a design I found pleasing. Layering the papers added depth. Carved hexagon shapes, of various sizes, as well as a shellac burn and text, adds interest and intricacy. The finished artwork is 12 inches by 12 inches.

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

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Squound Hole, Rare Peg

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Squound Hole, Rare Peg."
Squound Hole, Rare Peg | encaustic

Squound seeking rare

Sometimes I feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Other times, I feel like a square hole, seeking a round peg. In both situations, the fit just isn’t quite right. When I can stretch myself in the direction of something where I don’t usually fit, I feel like it also gives a little and meets me somewhere in between. And when the squound and rare come together, it feels like magic.

Perfection

Finding “perfection” is often a matter of adjusting my expectations, attitude, and seeing a different point of view. Is that yellow dandelion in my yard a weed to uproot? Or is it a delicate yellow flower that will be in a child’s bouquet? Is the painting finished by a gut feeling, or does my brain tell me I need to add one more spot of paint? Is that pain in my back a curse that torments, or a gift reminding me that I can feel sensations? As in many things I’ve experienced, is it really some of both, rather than one or the other.

Good enough

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough. I’ve heard this many times before. Sometimes adding another small detail would be nice, but I need to stop to do other things. Prioritizing can help, so that I can do what is crucial first, then I can add less important items as time allows. I’ve found that practicing painting with a timer can also keep me from over-thinking things. I’m also practicing “listening to the painting,” letting it tell me when it’s finished.

Now for fun, try saying “squound hole, rare peg” five times fast – it doesn’t have to be perfect!

About Squound Hole, Rare Peg

My encaustic painting, Squound Hole, Rare Peg is inspired by the same dream as was my Dreamers Orb painting, where molten iron was thrown over the edge of a roof, forming a square-round ingot as it rained down. I used my favorite complementary colors, turquoise and rust, highlighted in gold. And creating that perfect fit felt kind of magical!

  See this painting in Gallery 209, located upstairs in the large, third floor gallery at the award-winning Artists & Makers 2 complex, at 12276 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, MD 20852. The exhibit runs from February 28 – March 27, 2018.

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

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Gatherings Connect Us With Others

Image of an encaustic triptych painting by Janet Fox titled "Gatherings."
Gatherings | encaustic triptych

We are social beings

Gatherings come in many forms, presenting opportunities to connect with others. My favorites include shared meals, parties, meetings, workshops, concerts, walks, campfires and watching a sunset or moonrise with others. And although emotionally more difficult, gatherings due to an illness, death or significant loss can be especially important to express grief and offer support.

Staying present

To meaningfully connect, it is important to be present, focusing on the people physically there. But it can be hard not to think about work or other obligations. With today’s constant connections, it can be especially hard to turn off smart phones and other distracting “shiny things.” Here a great story of what the University of Maryland women’s basketball team discovered when they gave up their cellphones.

In addition to being present when in a group, paying attention when someone leaves a gathering and a hole forms is also fascinating. How is the void filled in? Does the group disband?

About Gatherings

I began this encaustic triptych with the middle panel, while recalling a curiously simple dream instructing me to darn socks. Although I began sewing as a young girl, I never darned socks. So I researched and learned how to weave threads together to fill a hole. This VideoJug video shows the simple darning process to make a sock whole again.

While creating this middle panel and seeing the design take shape, I started thinking about how our lives are woven together through shared experiences. Birthday parties, weddings and public gatherings often mark these occasions.

The top panel followed, inspired by other kinds of gatherings such as dining at tables or participating in a religious ceremony. Some of the most powerful gatherings are at the bedside of an ill loved one or sharing grief and tears at the funeral of a family member or friend.

The bottom panel focuses on outside gatherings, such as nature hikes or seaside walks to share a sunset or moonrise.

It continually amazes me how a simple thing, like this short dream, can guide me from thoughts to art!

Which gatherings are most significant to you?

  For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

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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.

Holding It All Together

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

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 commissioning a similar artwork, contact Janet Fox.