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Circling Back

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Circling Back."
Circling Back | encaustic (sold)

Circling back around

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, contact Janet Fox.

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?

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Breathing Meditation

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Breathing Meditation - Revised."
Breathing Meditation (revised) | encaustic

Focus on breathing

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. If you’d like to explore more, here are a few resources you might enjoy.

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.

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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?

  For information about purchasing this 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 families of all configurations, 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 from someone’s closet. They use outgrown children’s clothes, dad’s ties, or a child’s special t-shirts. Some pieces are new from a fabric store. Some print cherished photos on fabric, then add them to the quilt. 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?

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