Red Moon

Nov 8, 2022

It’s a little before four in the morning and I’m awake. Not an entirely unusual situation. I’ve heard of late that insomnia is going around.

But perhaps all is not lost; one of the things that kept me from sleeping was the enticement of a lunar eclipse to come within the hour. I remember the first one I saw. I was a child living in the Los Angeles area and the storied Brentwood fires burned miles away. The cool moon burned angry, a deep red.

Reds. In retrospect the color has dogged my existence. I still have the little red table I colored on as a toddler. All childhood birthdays prominently featured the color as my birthday is close to Valentine’s Day. My mother decorated my teenage bedroom with deep red bedspreads. All of my homes sported red front doors (except for one random pink). I am drawn to red like Earth’s shadow will be drawn across the moon this morning.

At a show a couple of years ago someone gasped, “red is such a difficult color to work with.” I’d never known that. Good thing I didn’t, I might never have attempted to use it if I had. 

The nasturtiums in my garden had a hard time surviving the drought and warmer than normal summer. Thirsty chipmunks nibbled the succulent seedlings just as they emerged from the ground. The few that did survive were planted in the soft soil in the deck pots. For some reason the heartiest were the reds. They’ve been the subject of my last few paintings and surly will be for several more to come.

Red is the color of passion. It’s associated with conflict, heat, war, embers and gore. 

Red is considered a volatile pigment. In other words, it fades easily. Anyone who has placed a red sofa in front of a window will eventually learn that lesson. Like burning anger it just can’t sustain itself forever. Passions fade, wars end, embers cool, as does their banner color. 

It’s November and soon the earth will cool. A little more than a quarter of the moon has fallen under shadow. Now a third. Now even more. It cannot escape and in short order it will be transformed. It will cast a red eye down over those of us who cannot sleep. And then it will emerge again, cool and white. 

Everything in life changes. Nothing is sustained. Even red hot anger. Even red.

Painting: Red Moon © Lissa Banks 2022