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.




Dreamtime Journey

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere."
Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere | encaustic | Honorable Mention Award,  Montgomery Art Association’s “Paint the Town 2015”

Where do I journey while dreaming?

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.

I started this practice years ago because I was curious about these dreamtime journeys. At that time, I happened upon a flyer announcing a dream exploration group, hanging on the bulletin board of a book store. I decided to sign up. Of all places where the group could have met, this one met one evening a week in a meeting room at – I kid you not – a local cemetery!

The group was utterly fascinating! We learned of important dreams throughout history, those in epics and religious texts, and songs and inventions inspired by dreams. We learned about Carl Jung’s ideas of psychology – the psyche, ego, self, Self, archetypes, shadow, anima, animus, the collective unconscious, individuation, and more. We learned how Jung worked with his own dreams and helped his clients through theirs.

We also incorporated dream exploration techniques pioneered by Jeremy Taylor, where we considered the dream presented “as if it were our own dream.” In this way, each group member could find something meaningful to themselves. Both dreamer and group members often expressed “ah-haaa!” moments, when something resonated within.

But mostly, we enjoyed sharing our dreamtime journeys with each other. The experience enlivened and helped me grow, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

To continue these travels when I’m awake, one way that I “honor my dreams” is through art making. Over the years, I’ve learned my unique internal language. Sometimes dream characters will appear in a series of dreams, and I find it fascinating to see how they’ve changed over time. I continue to be intrigued and full of wonder by these night-time wanderings!

Others’ ideas about dream journeys

Curious about your dream journeys and want to learn more?

  • Local Jung Societies and groups are a great way to connect with others interested in dreamwork. For example, the Jung Society of Washington has a wide range of programs, workshops, events, newsletters, videos – perhaps something to pique your interest.
  • This Jungian Life podcast is another fascinating – and entertaining – way to learn more about these concepts. Three Jungian analysts discuss important topics of the day, and then close each episode exploring a dream that a listener has submitted.
  • The lifetime work of Jeremy Taylor focused on dreams, myth, and social change. He also wrote many excellent books to check out.
  • The International Association for the Study of Dreams is another great resource offering conferences on many topics, dream art exhibitions and more.
  • And here’s some beautiful music from NiGHTS – Journey of Dreams.

About Dreamtime Journey to Somewhere

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. Wishing you wonder-ful dream journeys!

 For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

Last Updated August 15, 2019






Southwestern Sentiment


Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Southwestern Sentiment."
Southwestern Sentiment | encaustic (sold)

Traveling to the Southwest

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.

Southwestern flowers

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.