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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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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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Encaustic Fedora

"Hatless Fedora," an encaustic fedora artwork by Janet Fox
Hatless Fedora | encaustic, paper and antique lace

Encaustic Fedora

My challenge was to create a 3-D encaustic fedora for “The Wearable Hat Show,” curated by DC art collector Steven Krensky and a mystery juror. The show offered artists in the metro DC area a unique opportunity to make a statement through the art of the hat.

Since encaustic medium works the best for me when on a solid base, I built a plaster cast from a fedora. After the plaster cast dried and cured, I primed it with encaustic gesso and again let it dry several days. Then I applied a base layer of clear encaustic medium, then added colorful papers, encaustic paint, oil paint stick, and finished it with a few “hatless” lines of text from a French dictionary. I found a piece of grandma’s antique lace that was just right for a brim wrap, added my signature and voila, the “Hatless Fedora” was finished.

"Hatless Fedora," an encaustic fedora artwork by Janet Fox
Hatless Encaustic Fedora | encaustic, paper and antique lace

“The Wearable Hat Show,” with 49 funky hats from regional artists, is on exhibit at the Artists & Makers Studios 1 and 2. My encaustic fedora is at A&M 2 location, at 12276 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, MD. The show opened Friday, September 8th, and continues through Wednesday, September 27th, 2017. Viewing hours are 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Saturdays, and Sundays/Mondays by chance or appointment.

 

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

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Connections: lines, circles, spaces between

Image of an encaustic and ink painting by Janet Fox titled "Connections."
Connections | encaustic, watercolor, ink

Connections hold us together

With so much us-vs-them energy in the external world, I needed a reminder of our many complicated, beautiful and often unseen connections. Whether I like it or not, I’m part of a fantastic web and an action in one spot ripples throughout in mysterious ways.

When I am upset, I can unwittingly pass the upset energy to someone else through my attitude. Or with acts of kindness, I can hopefully pass on some brightness and light. Not only can I pass along my energy, I must also be mindful of what kind of energy I receive or pick up from others.

Fascia connections under our skin

Under our skin is another internal web. According to AnatomyTrains, “Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together, the connective tissue network. You are about 70 trillion cells – neurons, muscle cells, epithelia – all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that binds them all together in their proper placement.” Read more about this amazing system in this intriguing AnatomyTrains’ article describing our fascia system. There’s also an awesome descriptive video, “Tom Myers – Fascia like Non-Newtonian Fluid.”

About Connections

September is traditional “back to school” time and I’ve been exploring some new materials to use in my encaustic paintings. In this piece, I started with watercolor paint and waterproof ink on watercolor paper. After the media dried, I mounted the paper on a rigid board. Then, I added encaustic medium, embellished the painting with more ink, and fused.

I really like how the painting turned out. The underlying pigments interact and flow into each other, creating lots of interesting tones while the encaustic medium intensifies the colors with a smooth finish. The circular spots… hmm, what are those about?

How do you experience connections?

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

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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.

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