My mixed-media painting entitled Luna gets its name from the lifecycle of the luna moth, which exists in its adult life for only one week. The luna moth reminds us that we are only on this planet for a limited time. We need to use our time wisely because, before we know it, our time will be no longer.
By nature, the luna moth does not eat at all during its life, and so this element of hunger for life is very significant to the symbolic meaning of this particular moth in the painting. The name Luna comes from the word lunar, which translate to moon. Behind the figure is a crescent moon, which means to grow, increase or develop.
In regards to the costuming of the figure featured in the painting, I used the coloring as well as the patterning of the luna moth throughout. In the predominantly green headpiece, the design has lots of little oval and circular patterns outlined by red. The center part of her headpiece as well as the amulet that she wears on her dress are each abstractions of the luna moth design. The amulet, known to ward off evil, has three circular components at the top of it where each represents a stage of life: birth, life and death. Her green cloak is also made of oval shapes outlined by red. The gold that sparkles and emanates from her essence adds a magical, yet fleeting element to the piece.
The mixed-media painting is created on a custom cradled panel. To add dense texture to the piece, I applied a heavy layer of handmade papers onto the surface using collage, sealing it with acrylic matte medium. The papers had elements from nature embedded into them, adding a nice touch to the concept. The highly textural surface of heavy collage symbolizes an accelerated progression of time through decay.
Acrylic gesso was applied over the collaged paper surface to unify the tonal range. I chose to employ a monochromatic underpainting to create a solid value structure for what was to come. Molding paste and crackle paste were later applied in areas to further build the surface and reveal the layers beneath in an organic way. The same tactile look and feel is carried onto the sides of the piece to unite it with the surface.
Acrylic paint, thinned down with water, was applied with an eye dropper at the top of the piece, allowing it to drip down the panel. I just love how dripping paint runs down the surface, bringing out the details of the forest in a visually provocative way.
To even out the texture in the face, I added gesso. For certain parts of the face, I had to do some sanding to smooth out the texture a bit, as it was very heavy. It was probably one of the most challenging pieces because of that. I was constantly having to counteract the dimensional aspects and the way they play with the light. Although I like the results of the texture, it was a real challenge to work around. Graphite pencil was used to pull the figurative element out of the piece.
To complete the underpainting, I used Burnt Umber and Payne’s Gray in the areas of shadow and midtone. Once the under structure was established, I began washing in the local color in layers of thinned down acrylic, blocking in color, in and around and through the headpiece as well as the background of the figure.
Using a palette knife, I added gold, emanating from the figure. Next, I laid in the cloak, defining the edges with a deep purplish red. A white Conte pencil was used to delineate the area where the cloak would lay across the chest of the figure. Sponging was done in gold, turquoise and copper to play down the red lines once the cloak was fully blocked-in.
As I continued to work, I further rendered the details of the figure as well as the costuming. Her red dress is accented by a magical amulet, which is as an abstract representation of the luna moth. To finish off the piece, I added a crescent moon in gold, later sponging on top to push it back in space.
There is a dichotomy of metaphors going on in this painting, representing the struggle that we all have inside. We are easily drawn into all of the chaos that is currently going on in the world, losing our way in the process. Yet, we all long so deeply to find meaning, purpose and connection to ourselves, our work and others.
Today, all one has to do is turn on the TV, watch the news, look at our cell phone social media, (and the list goes on) to be so bombarded with distractions, eating away, bit by bit, a piece of our precious time on this planet. We are not gaining from this information overload. We are actually becoming more isolated, more depressed and no longer fully present in our own lives. Opportunities for people to socially interact on a one-on-one basis are now being overshadowed by personal engaged with technology, eliminating the opportunity to learn, share and grow from each other in real time and in person.
Let’s take a lesson from the luna moth and take hold of our time. Live every day to the fullest, hungering for life and purpose.
copyright 2022 Lisa L. Cyr, Cyr Studio LLC