I just completed a very special painting that warms my heart just to look at it. Lately I’ve been enthralled with painting goddess-type figures who demonstrate embracing their truth, grounding in peace and radiating their power from the inside out. Shanti is a Sanskrit word meaning peace or bliss. Luna, in many languages, refers to the moon.
The radiance and mystery of the moon has always intrigued me. And beyond that, I am mystified by the inner radiance that lives as potential in every person, awaiting activation. This piece is a reminder of the light and power available in our own bodies and souls when we tune in deeply.
The painting originally began over a year ago as a small moon at the very top with a tree that came in below it. But over time it morphed into a huge full moon with a figure, and eventually the tree came back. About midway through the painting, I created a small collaged b&w sketch of how I thought the image might proceed. (image on left)
Watch the entire evolution of the painting in the time-lapse video below:
For me, art-making is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. That means I’m not afraid to make big changes midway through a piece, allowing the painting tell me what it wants to be. It’s a slow revealing process… a discovery. This is a skillful approach for me, as my perfectionistic inner critic would otherwise prevent me from even beginning. I find that it’s important for one’s attitude of curiosity to always remain one step ahead of the critical mind that can easily sabotage creative discovery. A painter does not need to know the final image when they begin…They only need to know the next brushstroke in each moment. The same can be said of our individual lives: We are each a work of art, dynamically unfolding, growing and defining ourselves, moment to moment. I trust that something bigger than me is moving through my life, providing dynamic guidance in each moment. I don’t have to control it or know the end result… I simply tune in, listen and allow what wants to be, to be. I trust the process.
Original painting and fine art prints of Shanti Luna available: shop here>
“You are the universe expressing… What worlds do you wish to create?”
It was a winter evening as I sat cross-legged on the floor in the middle of a room full of fellow yogis, just a few short months ago. We had shared many hours of silent meditation as part of a New Years retreat, and our instructor began to close out the day by leading us in a metta practice (“metta” is a Pali word meaning “loving-kindness”, and refers to a meditation on compassion.) He used guided imagery, painting a cosmic picture in our minds. With a gentle voice he suggested that the big bang was powered by love, and that we were each created by that love. He suggested that within the “cosmic body” we each wear, that another big bang occurs every time our heart beats. Our heart is the center of our own inner universe.
I recalled a painting I did back in 2010 titled Innerverse, and suddenly I had a flash of a new painting so clear it was as if it already existed. Similar to Innerverse, the painting in my mind had a vibrantly glowing spiral galaxy at the heart center of a body, but this body had more definition as a female and she existed within the swirling darkness of the cosmos, bringing together the darkness and the light in a sensual body.
“Cosmic being of light, you are the love of the universe expressing as you.” These words are scribbled in my journal, along with a rough sketch of what I saw during that meditation. I already had a fascination with the colors of outer space, with vibrant nebulas and glowing galaxies.
True to my creative approach, I began with loose color and form and allowed the image to emerge slowly over time without pre-planning how the end would arrive. The process of creation took around 4 months of devoted attention and curiosity. The result: A depiction of the Divine Feminine as powerful creatrix ~ grounded in her own body ~ blooming open ~ holding the creative power of the universe and allowing it to emerge from her own body, from within out.
As women, our power to create is not limited to the womb and new life within… it imbues every intention we hold, every desire we bring to fruition, every idea we birth into the world. It is my hope that this piece inspires every woman (and every person) to tap their own inner power and creativity. It is inherent within each of us and originates from the heart, blooming outward through the cosmic body we each wear.
People often ask me what inspires my paintings. I usually answer that the images come from within, guided by my own meditation practice and the impressions that arise from inward contemplation. In fact, the very act of painting is itself a meditation for me that requires deep listening, surrendering and trusting the process.
But that’s not the end of the story. I am inspired outwardly by the world of nature and the colors that I perceive through her magnificence. The purple undertones of distant mountains, the golden fuchsia of a bold sunset, the warm siennas of canyon rock … color feeds my soul.
I’ve had the privilege over these last couple years to do some cross-country travel to lead painting workshops. Road trips are my favorite way to travel. From the road I can witness the changing terrain and the the sun’s position across the open sky. I can squeal in excitement when the moon begins to rise big and orange on the horizon, or when I spot a wild animal grazing on the side of the highway. From the Smoky Mountains to the canyons of Utah, from the Rockies to the Cascades of the Pacific NW … a return to Mother Nature is a return to balance — guided by cycles, seasons and splendor.
My absolute favorite time of the day is the “Golden Hour” before the sun goes below the horizon — that magical time that artists have chased for ages. The beauty of dusk, with its radiant hues and shadows, was part of what inspired the piece at the bottom of this post titled “Majesty.” And there will be many more pieces to come.
While I do not identify as landscape painter, I do love to incorporate aspects of nature into nearly every piece I create — even into the figure itself. This is why it’s important to study nature and to paint from life whenever possible. When we travel we have the chance to step out of our regular day-to-day routine and see the world with fresh eyes. And to allow new ideas to enter our consciousness. Sometimes they’ll even end up in a painting 🙂
An inside look at a painting that reflects life’s transformations
‘Becoming’ is a process of growth… of coming into being. It is more than a superficial word of flattery (that suit is very ‘becoming’ on you…) It is a recognition of something new being born. Often the process of becoming is slow and is not without pain or loss… we must let go of what we were in order to become who we are becoming.
I recently completed a commissioned piece for a dear friend who has been a long-time supporter. As I worked on the painting and allowed the image to unfold in a very slow and deliberate way, it was as if I were intently listening to a subtle voice who was giving me clues about this friend’s soul direction. He and I had talked previously and I took notes about his life path. I learned about his difficult childhood in which he was bullied for his lack of confidence, and how he grew up in a place that couldn’t fully accept his for who he was. I learned how, many years later, he found teachings that made more sense to him and how in recent years he has been called to walk the path toward leadership–serving and making a difference for others.
From fear and shame to courage and commitment, this friend is living a transformed life. In his words: “The moment I say yes, I allow transformation. It happens in an instant.” He shared with me how he’ll take anything on now. On the court of life he is playing the game full out.
In this painting, the themes of life and transformation shine boldly in vibrant hues of orange and golden pink. What was previously held down now bursts forth with vitality in a supported way. Whatever darkness was previously holding us back can become the launching pad when the time is right. But it’s a process.
As the painting morphed and changed along the way, the following phrases popped up for me at various stages and I jotted them down…
A diamond in the rough
A sweet boy
A tulip on fire
Rising & blooming
Bloom of becoming
Prints of this piece are now available! (Multiple media options and wall preview tool available)