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.
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!”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
On this day, and especially with June and a focus on Fathers Day ahead, I’m focusing on the ageless wise man. In my recent companion post about the Wise Woman, I noted that I often awaken in the morning, lie still for a few minutes, and try to set an intention for the day. So today, I’m thinking of and looking for the wise man. Where can I find him? If and when I find him, what questions will I ask?
Characteristics of the wise man
Who is this wise man? He is the one who knows all things from a masculine perspective. I don’t think there is such a being within one person, but I try to look for core characteristics in the many people, male and female, who I will meet today. When I think of male energy figures, I think he is a provider, protector, resourceful, a teacher. He knows how to work hard and work smart, and can show me how I can also do the same.
When I ask him to do something for me that I’m not quite sure of, he might ask me if I can spell the word “able.” When I spell it correctly, he might then say, “If you can spell it, you can do it!” In saying this, he is telling me he has confidence in me and I should try it myself. Or he might encourage me to reach for that apple out on the limb of the apple tree, giving me confidence to overcome my fear by allowing me stretch out while he stands below, ready to catch me in case I slip.
Other wise men I think of are steady in the midst of chaos. They don’t easily get rattled by insults and don’t get into fights… unless it is the last resort. He has a sort of power and knows how to use it to make the world a better place. I recently attended one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve every witnessed. The groom teared up during the ceremony as the emotions swelled… and it was quite moving and powerful!
You might like what a few others have to say about the wise man:
With June’s celebration of Fathers Day in mind, I created this encaustic mixed-media painting in honor of the many wise men in the world. Since it is a companion painting, I also used my favorite colors, but in the opposite way with rust color surrounding the male symbol (also the symbol of the planet Mars) with turquoise highlights. The wires originating from the center follow a path pouring outward through the arrow. The short poem encircling the symbol leads to the bigger note: “Today With the Ageless Wise Man.”
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork and/or its companion art, contact Janet Fox.
Today, I’m thinking of the ageless wise woman. When I wake up in the morning, I often spend a few minutes lying still, listening to my body and thankful that I’m alive for another day. Most days have a schedule. But on days that don’t, I like to choose an intention and see if I can work on it throughout the day. Some days, I think of who I might see and what question I might ask of them.
Characteristics of the wise woman
Who is this wise woman? She is the one who knows all things from a feminine perspective. I don’t think there is such a being within one person, but I try to look for core characteristics in the many people, female and male, who I will meet today.
Business woman, author and broadcaster Lynne Franks’ presents wise women traits in this TEDxWhitehallWomen video. In it, she notes traits of responsibility, connection, laughter, creativity, leadership, teaching, nurturing, confidence-building, mentoring, integrity, courage, and bridge-building to generations of the future. I’m also reminded of the Hindu goddess Kali, who is a creator but also known for being a destroyer of what is no longer helpful, especially the dark forces.
I’ve been fortunate to know many wise women. They show strength, vulnerability, compassion, humility, respect, love. They use their smarts, experience, and hearts to make the world a better place.
Hmmm. Is it laughter, creativity, leadership, mentoring, courage, letting go of something… or something else I need today? When the opportunity is here, will I serve as a mentor to another? How will I make the world a better place for the generations of the future? What can I contribute? How does my purpose today fit into the purpose for my life?
About Today with the Wise Woman
With May’s celebration of Mothers Day, I created this encaustic mixed-media painting in honor of the many wise women in the world. I used my favorite turquoise to surround the rust-colored feminine symbol, which also happens to be the sign and the color for the planet Venus. The tiny round glass beads fit nicely with the larger copper staff with the carved bead. The short poem encircling the symbol leads to the bigger note: “Today With the Ageless Wise Woman.” It’s companion painting is my next post.
⇒ For information about purchasing this artwork and/or its companion art, contact Janet Fox.
We have all experienced them in some form. According to Merriam Webster, a bridge is primarily “a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle,” and “a time, place, or means of connection or transition.” Some bridges go in one direction, while others allow movement both ways. I think of dreams as a bridge between the conscious and subconscious realms.
The divide is the area between either ends of the bridge. Some divides are starkly clear, while others are cloudy. Sometimes we know what to expect on the other side, while other times we are in for an unknown adventure.
Why cross the bridge?
To get to the other side, of course. To grow and experience new things, connect with others, and live life more fully, people are bridging all kinds of boundaries and obstacles every day. Some can help by building bridges so others can cross over in safety. Sometimes, we “burn bridges” after crossing them, making it impossible to go back the way we came.
When to cross the divide?
When we get there. Or when we are allowed to go, like after a drawbridge closes or after we have passed inspection by boundary guards. We must wait until we have built up the courage, energy and resources to make the trip. Or when despair, coupled with a glimmer of hope, drives us forward. We might need to wait for others to escort us. Sometimes, we decide not to take the journey. Sometimes, a part of us remains behind or dies in the crossing.
About Bridging the Divide
In this encaustic painting, I used my favorite turquoise and its complementary color to represent opposite sides of a divide. The figures on this misty bridge can pass back and forth, like travelers between the waking world and dreaming realm.
How are you bridging the divides in life?
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork, contactJanet Fox.
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.
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?
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.
In waking life, I often think about where I am going. I seek immediate and longer term answers. I equally think about sleep-time journeys. Dream settings, characters and actions can be so fantastical. While dreaming, I’ve been in structures and vehicles, on land and over mountains. I’ve flown above and through the treetops, leaped off cliffs and visited under water. I recognize some places, while others are unfamiliar. Sometimes I know who I’m with; other times I don’t.
Do I choose these travels?
Dreams take me on travels magical, heavenly, spiritual, mysterious, fantastic and scary. Sometimes the feeling is very calm; other times action-packed. Before falling asleep, I like to focus on a question or something that I need guidance about. If I remember a dream upon waking, I enjoy reflecting on both the dream story and the question. Over the years, I’ve learned my unique internal language. I continue to be intrigued and full of wonder by these night-time wanderings.
For this encaustic painting, I used some of my favorite colors… copper and aqua-marine or turquoise. I wanted to capture the idea that dreams are mini-journeys in the dark, guided by the reflected light of the moon, and often with a surprise on the other side. Somehow the saying, “All who wander are not lost,” seems to fit.
⇒For information about purchasing this artwork,contact Janet Fox.
When the cold, ice and snow of winter come, I sometimes daydream of being in a place where I can feel the sun’s warmth. The southwestern U.S. is such a place. From past travels, I recall open landscapes, layered canyons, desert sands, red rocks, turquoise and the dry heat of the sun.
I also recall a field of brightly flowering Goldenrod. The intense color overwhelmed me, calling me to stop right then and there. So I pulled over, got out of my car and walked slowly through the field. I touched the yellow blooms, breathing in the dry aroma and feeling the captivating energy of the place. These precious moments of connecting deeply with nature left a huge impression on me. I left with a greater appreciation of the natural world and its mystery.
I’ve walked by thick patches of Siberian Squill in the springtime, feeling similar energy. The vibrant blues were like shiny things pulling me in.
How do others encounter nature?
Many who are passionate about nature have their own personal encounters. You might like to explore this more in a TED talk by George Monbiot, titled “For more wonder, rewild the world,” part of his journey to re-engage with nature.
About Southwestern Sentiment
This encaustic painting is inspired by my southwestern travels and dreams of stacking different colored shapes, like a cairn on an important landmark. While painting, I was flooded by memories of the warmth of Arizona and New Mexico.
Where in nature have you found connection?
⇒ For information about commissioning a similar artwork, contact Janet Fox.