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?
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.
The 2016 Kensington “Paint the Town” Labor Day Weekend Art Show is September 3-5, 2016. One of the requirements for artists participating in this annual show is to create a painting inspired by is Maryland town. The town co-sponsors the event with the Montgomery Art Association.
My 2016 “Paint the Town” entry is based loosely on a map view of the streets around the Kensington Town Hall / Armory, at 3710 Mitchell Street. I fused several layers of green and yellow shapes, in paper and encaustic representing street blocks in a map view. The green and yellow mirrors the colors on many of street markers and signs around town as well as the town clock.
This painting will be at the MAA’s “Paint the Town, 2016” Labor Day Weekend Art Show. If you’re in the area then, stop on by. I’m also showing 5 other encaustic paintings and many new pieces in my black art bin. Plus, you’ll find many other artworks by artists from the Montgomery County, Maryland region.w.
The end of 2015 has come and gone and we’re circling back around into a new year. Reflecting on last year, I saw various “Best of 2015” lists. What were the best movies, music and photos? Most compelling stories? Loveliest moments? Scariest events? What have we learned? What have we struggled with that needs more time to figure out?
On a personal level, I’ve felt a strong urge to sort through things, clean, rearrange, recycle what I no longer need, find new homes for reusable items, and discard what’s too worn to be useful. Some of this work is a sort of ending. And colder winter weather also keeps me inside more so it just feels like a great time to do these tasks.
Timing of new beginnings
Closing out an old year, while taking time with family and friends, allowed me to reflect on what is important. I’ve not been a big fan of New Year resolutions, but having a re-start date can be useful to focus on self improvements. This informative and humorous article by Elahe Izadi in The Washington Post points out why the new year starts on Jan. 1, noting it is a terrible time for renewal.
For me, though, the gradually increasing amount of daylight after the Winter Solstice on December 21st brings feelings of new growth. (Getting gardening seed catalogs in the mail help that along, too.) But I know the first of the year is not the only time for new growth.
Clean space for something new
With things I no longer need cleared out, I now have a blank space (or a blank canvas) to explore, create and fill. But what will I do and create? Something brings me back around to the words of the late Joseph Campbell, the famous American scholar of world mythology. His answer when asked this kind of question was “to follow your bliss.” The Painter’s Keys Art Quotes has this great list of Joseph Campbell quotes. I hope you enjoy them!
So I’m trying to stay aware and recognize what brings me happiness and joy so I can fill my space with more of that. Creating art and exploring my and others’ dream realms are a few of the blissful, energizing paths I am on.
About Circling Back Around
In this contemporary encaustic painting, I created roundish shapes and paths. Layering papers and colors reminded me of how I often repeat similar things, although no two times are identical. I chose a thin silver cord for skipping around, for a light feeling.
So here we go again, but with another year of experience under our collective belt. What changes need to be made… and can we muster the courage and energy to make them?
What blissful paths are you following?
⇒For information about commissioning a similar artwork, contactJanet Fox.
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.
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.
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
We all must do it to live. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.
From the moment we are born until the moment of death, we repeat this continuous cycle taking in air with the essential oxygen needed to break down food into energy. After, we exhale carbon dioxide and water as waste.
With breathing as a metaphor for life, we continuously take in new things, deciding which to integrate within us and letting go of the rest. What do you keep? What do you let go of?
Focusing on the breath
In many meditation practices, an important way to quiet the mind is to focus on breathing.
Focusing on my breath has helped me calm down and work through pain and difficulties. While belly breathing, I mentally focus on the points between the breaths, too. At the end of the inhale, I gently contract a painful muscle or hold a difficulty in my mind. I then focus on releasing it with the exhale. At the end of the exhale, I envision ratcheting down the original stimulus. After a few minutes, I usually feel better.
About Breathing Meditation
I chose a four-color scheme in this encaustic painting to represent the inhale, exhale and the points in-between. The red represents the inhale, focused on energized and raw pain or difficulty. The violet is the point of maximum inhalation and can be a point of remembering, contracting or holding. The green represents exhalation, letting out waste air and also releasing pain and difficulty. Finally, the white transitions back to the beginning of the breath, a bridge between the ending and a new beginning. The bottom section shows how the strength of each step can change over time.
How does it feel when you focus on your breath?
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.
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.
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.
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?
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⇒ For information about commissioning a similar artwork, contact Janet Fox.