Once In A Blue Moon
I'm back on my Valentine's theme featuring paintings involving love, love lost, and wishing for love. This one has always been a favorite of mine. I had heard the expression 'blue moon' before and I thought to myself, what if the moon was actually a blue rose and someone was gazing at it from afar, thinking of possibilities.
February 12, 2022
Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says: 'I need you because I love you."
― Erich Fromm, “The Art of Loving”
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I think it’s time to discuss one of art’s oldest and most universal themes: love. The most wonderful and terrifying of human emotions, love is our greatest avenue to bliss and, accordingly, sadness. Few things, if any at all, affirm life and bring joy as much as love, and, by virtue of its emotional power, love can cause the sort of heartbreak that makes you want to avoid it like the plague. I believe Thomas Blood’s Once In A Blue Moon is the perfect painting to investigate the pleasure and pain of our most sought-after feeling (or, more precisely, state of being).
Blue is an interesting chromatic choice for a painting about love. We usually associate red with passion and blue with sadness, so let's start there (don't despair, I promise I'll get to the happy part in a moment!). Once In A Blue Moon's faceless protagonist has not found love, but she yearns for it, or she's tormented by one of life’s most painful feelings: unrequited love. Many emotions can feel like love, but once in a blue moon, the real thing is achieved. I say achieved and not found because a healthy and mature love takes more work than simply receiving one of cupid's arrows to the heart.
Without a doubt, we fall in love (from experience, I know that even if you try to push it away, you cannot stop the momentum of your descent), but we cannot expect the fall to drop us where we need to be. The fall is only the start, and to get to the finish we need, we need to work on ourselves and our cultural prejudices. Throughout history, and particularly in modern times, love has become commodified. After we fall into it, the motivations behind love are all too often predicated on mutual exchange and not one of mutual respect. Love is a balm for loneliness, but if we do not find social satisfaction outside of our relationships, our love becomes muddled with need and anxiety. If we do not find happiness outside of our relationships, how can we ever know if we love the person for who they are and not what they give us? The solutions for these problems are far more complex than I am capable of expressing (if you want to read a far more intelligent person than me on the subject, I highly recommend Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving), but I will do my best.
We cannot truly love someone unless we love ourselves. If our partner is the sole supplier of our happiness and self-worth, then our relationship becomes as much a business transaction as a joyous union of souls. When you love someone because they give you meaning, purpose, and safety, you love them for what they give you and not who they are. Likewise, if you love someone for who you want them to be or what society has taught you they should be, then you will make them miserable with control and jealousy and drive yourself crazy with ultimately meaningless concerns. Love without respect is simply ownership. And respect is loving someone for who they are without succumbing to the prejudices we develop and with which we have been raised. Of course, I am not suggesting we dismiss everything about a person that displeases us (certainly another route to a toxic relationship), but I think we all know what really matters.
A love based entirely on love and not a mutual exchange of services is hard to achieve and perhaps has never been achieved, but it is the love we should all aspire to. If we do not need our partner to love ourselves and others, self-worth, meaning, and purpose, then all we are left with is pure love.
An ocean may separate you from true love, and the waves me be rough, and your journey arduous, but that flowery moon is glowing brightly in the night sky, and we have to take the plunge and work our way towards it.
- Surrealism, Symbolic
- Painting - Unframed
- Acrylic, Canvas
30.00 inches wide
40.00 inches tall
2.00 inches deep
- 8.00 lbs
- St. Louis, MO, US