moon
earth
sun
moon

oil on canvas  4″ x 6″

began April 2016 – completed June 2016

 

earth

oil on canvas  4″ x 6″

began April 2016 – completed June 2016

 

sun

oil on canvas  4″ x 6″

began April 2016 – completed June 2016

 

These three paintings were made as a gift for my grandparents. The luna moth and the spiral are representing the Moon, the hummingbird moth and labyrinth are representing the Earth, and the monarch butterfly and circles are representing the Sun.

 

More of an explanation into the meaning of each of these paintings is below.

 

* prints are available for purchase in the shop

moon

 

The Moon, especially in western beliefs and thoughts, is closely tied to women and the energies of the feminine. The spiral contained in the circle is suggestive of the way moths spiral toward an artificial light source as it, unfortunately, disrupts their natural navigation by the Moon. But putting aside the unnatural flying pattern of a spiral, I chose to use a spiral to represent the natural world, the form of growth and unfolding, a movement towards or away, and a symbol often identified with the feminine. I set it on a background of stars in the night, a time also associated with the feminine.

sun

 

Where the luna moth in the moon painting is representing the feminine, the painting with the monarch is representing the Sun and masculine energies. The circle for the Sun was begun with the image of the astrological symbol for the Sun in mind, a circle with a dot contained inside. I thought of an image of the light from the Sun as being like waves rippling out from its source, like dropping a stone in water. I chose to include seven ripples, seven being a number often used for spiritual reasons. Traditionally our visible light spectrum is divided into seven colours, there are seven notes in a traditional western music scale, seven days in a week, and classical astronomy and astrology contain seven heavenly bodies (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). The colours I’ve used are meant to mimic colours often occurring around both sunrise and sunset, transitioning times of the Sun.

earth

 

For the Earth I chose a hummingbird moth. Most moths are active by night, but the hummingbird moth is active by day. The daylight hours are often a symbol of the masculine and the night time hours of the feminine. I see the Earth as being both masculine and feminine, I know many are used to referring to the Earth as purely feminine, as in mother Earth, but some traditions have separate energies and a distinction between Earth and sky—mother Earth and father sky for instance. I see our sky as being also of our Earth and not distinctly separate, I think of the images of Earth from space and the blue glow of our atmosphere protecting our delicate planet. I won’t go into all of my reasoning and feelings here, but for me Earth is where masculine and feminine are joined together to form one. So by choosing a moth, an insect associated with the night and feminine, but choosing a moth active during the day, a time associated with the masculine, I have incorporated both energies into one.

Specifically, this hummingbird moth species is a clearwing, and one native to many parts of the US, including the state of Iowa. My grandmother had also at one time suggested she would like a painting of a hummingbird, so in some ways I’m also acknowledging that earlier request. This moth’s ability to mimic the behaviour of a hummingbird is also significant.

The larvae of this moth (the caterpillars) make their way to the ground before transforming into the next stage of development. The pupal phase is spent in a hard cocoon under leaves (for protection from the cold) while they transform over the winter before emerging in spring. This transformation, literally on the ground, also shows strong connections to the earth.

I chose to design a labyrinth for the circle in this painting. I wanted to incorporate the four colours that often are used to represent the four cardinal directions of the Earth and the four elements. Traditionally these colours are used by many Native American tribes, with many tribes having differing positions for the colours. I am not trying to emulate any particular tribe’s beliefs, but acknowledge where my initial idea for the colours have come from.

Over many years, I have given a great deal of thought, and have weighed my thoughts against my feelings, to come to my own conclusions about what these colours mean. For me the white stands for the north and for the element of air, red for the direction of east and the element of earth, yellow for the south and the element of fire, and black for the west and the element of water.

This labyrinth, like the symbolism of traditional labyrinths, is showing a journey and transformation. Many insects undergo metamorphosis, moths have a metamorphosis of four stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). I am making a correlation between the four colours, the four stages of life for a moth, and the stages of life we experience as humans.

I show one way of entry into—and the same, an exit out of—the labyrinth. On our journey to the centre we are changed and yet we exit from the same place we began. We are still us, yet we have changed. The labyrinth is embedded in the earth, a symbol that to be transformed (spiritually, metaphysically, mentally, or however one wishes to view it) we must travel deep within before we have developed our wings to fly. My intention of the white circle in the centre was to symbolise an egg, a place of incubation, where life begins, but it could also be taken to symbolise spiritual matters and perhaps for some a source of creation.

I have divided this painting into two parts, to again represent my view of the Earth being one of two. The green ground below the feminine and the blue sky above, masculine.

All three

The painting of the Moon, I positioned on the left, the left side representing the feminine side. The Sun on the right, representing the masculine side. And the Earth in the centre to show a balance and integration of both energies of feminine and masculine. Both circles on the moon and sun painting are positioned above the insects, reflecting that the Sun and Moon are above us. The circle for the earth painting is below, representing the earth beneath us, along with the other symbolic reasons I mentioned before.

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