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Two Fish in the Pool

Close-up image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Two Fish in the Pool."
Two Fish in the Pool | encaustic and pastel

Two Fish in the Pool

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!”

Sleep Talking

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.

Pisces

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:

Close-up image of an encaustic and watercolor painting by Janet Fox titled "From the Sea."
From the Sea | encaustic and watercolor
  • 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.
  • A few of my other water-themed encaustic or mixed paintings include: From the Sea (shown), which has a similar vibe, Submerged, Seaside Dancer, Rain Drip, and Cool Water.
  • I also have two acrylic paintings, one of the beautiful southern Oregon shore and one of the Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island.

About Two Fish in the Pool

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.

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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

Shi 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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CityScape Escape

Image of an encaustic and ink painting by Janet Fox titled "CityScape."
CityScape | encaustic and paper (sold)

Escaping in a Cityscape

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?

About Cityscape

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.

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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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Hoppin’ Around Kensington

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Hoppin' Around Kensington."
Hoppin’ Around Kensington | encaustic

Hoppin’ Around Kensington

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.

In recent years, I painted the town clock across from the Kensington train station, the carved wooden eagle statue in Veterans Memorial Park and the old millstone in Flynn Park. I used encaustic for each of these paintings, realistically portraying the subject. This year, however, I decided to take a more abstract path.

About Hoppin’ Around Kensington

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.

 For information about purchasing this artwork, on exhibit in the Kensington Town Hall Chamber Room, contact Janet Fox.

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Run With the Tiger

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Run With The Tiger."
Run With The Tiger | encaustic | 12″h X 12w” (sold)

Connecting with tiger energy

Many days when waking up, I marvel and am grateful that I’m alive and present for another day. While setting my intention, I often wonder what lies ahead and how I might respond. I pray for guidance that my actions and words will be a force for healing and for making the world a better place. A while back, I read a great book about healing. Peter Levine’s “Waking the Tiger,” focuses on trauma, its impacts, and how to find healing. He presents examples of how animals in the wild naturally release the energy of a trauma after the threat has passed. As humans, though, we’ve learned to hold that intense “tiger” energy inside, where it can wreak havoc and cause pain. Levine presents ways to revisit old traumas and to safely release the buried and stuck energy. In practicing many of these techniques, I’ve come to understand difficult experiences in a new light. It can also feel really great to growl like a tiger, feel the vibration in my throat, and hear the roar come from my own voice.

Tigers in the wild

How are tigers living in the world today? According to Wikipedia, tigers are generally solitary although social animals requiring large areas of territory to support their prey. But due to conflicts with humans, including reduced habitat and poaching, they are endangered with fewer than 4,000 in the wild. This beautiful National Geographic video gives a rare look into the lives of several wild tigers in India and their cubs. It’s fascinating to observe how they relate to each other. I’m also amazed that the videographer could get close enough for filming!

A tiger as a dream symbol

Dream images often inspire my art so I researched a tiger from a Jungian perspective. A Knoji.com article about lions and tigers in dreams describes how a person’s associations to these powerful animals is important to understanding the dream’s message. Is a dream tiger ferociously chasing? Or is it soft like a stuffed toy? Is it in a cage, in an effort to keep it safely contained? Am I engaging with it or watching from afar? I imagine running with a tiger kind of spirit requires speed, cautious fearlessness, and a sort of instinctual trusting that I have the ability to stand my ground, protect myself, or flee.

About Run With The Tiger

Reflecting on those morning questions, past traumas, dreamtime images and the glimpse of real tigers inspired me to write the poem. After building it into the painting’s foundation, I fused several layers of encaustic paint, while combing into the orange, yellow, light and dark fur areas. The music line fit perfectly out of my reflections. Although life’s traumas can feel all-consuming, going through them can result in a greater appreciation and counting my blessings of what remains.

Looking as honestly as possible at something traumatic takes courage. Courage to face fear, which is perhaps what it might feel like to look a tiger in the eye. Facing down danger. Facing down death. By facing death, I can perhaps experience life more fully.

How do you perceive the tiger?

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

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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?

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

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Transformation of a Scarlet Boa

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Crossing Over 2."
Crossing Over 2 | mixed media (sold)

Dreamscape… I’m in my apartment. Someone tells me to be very careful moving around because a scarlet boa constrictor has somehow gotten in. I creep slowly in a circular fashion through the living room, dining room and kitchen. I see it, coiled up in a corner next to a big basket. I know I must catch and remove it. For if it bites me, I will be poisoned and get extremely sick or die.

What is a scarlet boa?

With vivid and colorful dreams like this one, I enjoy researching the symbols and actions to explore connections that cross over into waking life. For example and to my amazement, I discovered there actually is a boa that’s partly red. Originally from tropical areas, the “boa constrictor constrictor” is also known as the red-tailed boa. Here’s a beautiful Wired photo of one and some interesting red-tailed boa facts from animals.mom.me. Many people have them as pets, as they are nonpoisonous. They can grow to more than 10 feet long, 50 pounds in weight and 30 years old in captivity.

As the name suggests, boas kill their prey by squeezing it to death. They are carnivores and eat small rodents, amphibians, snakes, and birds. They don’t eat people and are nonpoisonous. So within this dreamscape, what I thought I knew was not entirely correct and was, unnecessarily perhaps, causing me to be cautious and afraid. Nevertheless, I’m not a snake person and didn’t want to live with one in my space. But how on Earth did a boa, and a scarlet one at that, get inside my living space? Was it living in the blackberry patch outside and got lost?

The boa’s transformation

While previously working with this dream image, I created a painting of a large, coiled red snake. I placed it safely behind bars inside a cage. Recently, I cut apart this painting, transforming it into the three artworks in this post.

The first piece, at the top of this post, symbolizes the bridge from dream time to waking time.

The second painting symbolically moved the boa back outside. I put this one in a sunny blackberry patch, where I’ve seen other snakes.

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Sun Kissed Blackberries."
Sun Kissed Blackberries | mixed media (sold)

Since it is springtime with new growth appearing everywhere, I recreated the boa in the third piece. This new bloom appeared. The blossom’s color reflects a glimmer of its scarlet past.

Image of a mixed media painting by Janet Fox titled "Scarlet Bloom."
Scarlet Bloom | mixed media (sold)

How would you make something scary safe?

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

Seeking My Path

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Seeking My Path."
Seeking My Path | encaustic (sold)

Which path to take?

These are two primal questions… Where did I come from? Where am I going? Answers are infinitely varied but could be here or there; forward or backward; up, down, right or left; north, south, east or west. I could go on, but what if, instead of going a specific direction in the external world, we turned things around 180 degrees and head inward? How do “the seeking” and “the path” depend on each other?

A clear or foggy path?

Whether traveling from the inside out or the outside in, the path can be clearly marked, foggy with low visibility or somewhere in-between. When the external world is overwhelming, turning inward can bring relief and calm. If the internal world is chaotic, turning outward can bring connection with others and help to see new perspectives.

Some others’ thoughts you might enjoy:

About Seeking My Path

This encaustic painting simultaneously shows a path in and a path out. While the yellow bricks can go in many different directions, the undefined area exemplifies the realm of the unknown. Which direction to go? North, south, east, west, up, down, forward, backward, inside? Are multiple directions possible at the same time?

In which direction(s) are you going?

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