Copyright: All artwork/content protected under ©2007-2011 Lynne Ciacco

All content herein copyright © Lynne Ciacco

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Memento Mori

I neglected to get a picture of the "bare bones" fabric collage before I went at it with paint but this is the first "finished" version.

It seemed too stark, though...there was not enough depth to it and something was missing...

On my desk was a photo transfer on muslin that I had intended for another project. The image is of a graveside photo from Tropea. I kept having this urge to include it in the black & white painting I was working on but continued to resist the idea. Finally I thought, "What the heck--if it doesn't work out I can just paint over her."

So I cut out her face and glued it just below the window, sketched in a body shape with black paint and applied other effects to make her blend in with the rest of the composition.

And this is the final result.
-click on the image to see it larger-

(yes, that is a skull in the upper right hand corner! I didn't make it up. It was in a shrine in Pizzo and I have the photo to prove it!)

(16 x 20" mixed media on canvas)


  1. What is a graveside photo?

  2. This is amazing, I love it even tho' it isn't red! That photo works so well. You've earned yourself first sip from the champers bottle! Wonderful.

  3. Its a amazing piece of art :)
    I love the colors,
    beautiful !!

  4. Hi Susan,
    I don't know the proper name for these images but it's an old tradition in some European countries to place a framed photo of the deceased on their gravestone, mausoleum wall, crypt, wherever their remains are interred. For some haunting (no pun intended)images of these tributes to the dead see Owen's posting at his Magic Lantern blog:

    I guess the equivalent in N.America these days would be people having pictures of their Faux Neo-Colonial houses or Mac trucks etched onto their headstones.

  5. Hey Saj!
    It's still early here so I've mixed the champers with some orange juice. A "mimosa" isn't it?
    I'm glad you can appreciate this "darker" painting. But then, black goes so well with red.

    Careful not to step in the paint I slopped on the floor. We wouldn't want you to get any on your hot black boots! I can lend you those camo Birkenstocks if you like.

  6. Hi Anya,
    I'm glad you like the colours. I was concerned that viewers might be put off by the darkness of the tones, though I did try to warm things up with that rusty colour. It was a good challenge, working with black and white...but I cheated with blues, and off-whites, and siennas. A girl's gotta have fun somehow!

    Give Kareltje a pat from me!

  7. I think the photo adds an extra bit of depth and interest, also kind of makes it a bit more personal and focused on momento mori.

  8. Hi J,
    Good to hear your opinions about the added photo. I was more focused on filling in something at the bottom of the canvas to bring the eye downward. However, adding depth, interest, and a more personal feeling to the whole sound like much better reasons! They must have been my subconscious motivations. Clever you to read my mind like that! haha ;-D

  9. Yes, Lynne, that's it! That makes all the difference. She's leaving deep in thought after making her devotions. She has lit a candle. She put her fingers in the basin of Holy Water. All the imagery is there: the ornate crosses, the Italian writing on the wall, and the skull. Magnifica! xx

  10. Another masterpiece!!!
    ♪If I had a million dollars♪♪♪
    I'd buy me the whole series♪♪♪
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful artwork with us.

  11. Ah, Margaret, I do love how you've created a whole story to go with the painting--none of which occured to me, either while I was making it or after it was declared complete. Mille grazie!

  12. Chère Jacqueline, Never mind about buying the whole series--I don't think you have any more room in your house anyway!

  13. Anonymous9/12/2009

    These are full of depth. Love the textures and colours.
    If you have an high res scanner the image could almost if yes go to the large size your art looks in the art gallery in your last post. Mmmmm! Just printing it now,lol!

  14. That's funny! Nothing like standing in front of a real painting, though. Though I've seen some very good giclée prints.

  15. Hey Lynne! I love to see the worlds you create, and the addition of the Tropea graveside photo at the bottom is just perfect...
    What attracts me to these photo/cloth/paint creations is the multi-dimension of them... metaphorically, materially, in color, contrast, from different dimensions of space and time, and not only visual, but tactile as well... can they be touched repeatedly without the surface being compromised? I love the windows and doors... what is it about these elements? Maybe the metaphor works subconsciously for me... I'm stepping into your mind... like Spock's mind-meld... and your painting of these windows and doors makes them even more dreamy and intriguing.
    Love these...
    David (((((*)))))

  16. Anonymous9/13/2009

    To me, the green overlay represents everything eventually turning to mould and all that is left are fading memories.

  17. Wow, David, that was some mind-meld! I think I need a little visit with Jack Daniels now to sort myself out.

    Have you ever considered being an art critic? I think I'll quote you in my future press releases!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a detailed critique. Doors and windows are certainly excellent metaphors on all the levels you've mentioned. Mixed media provides a wonderful means of creating the illusion of depth and layers, something quite new to me in my painting technique as I used to work very "flat."

    And yes, due to the many layers of acrylic paints and mediums on the work, they are absolutely touchable! So, no red ropes in front of my paintings--touchy feely is de rigeur!

  18. Hello Anonymous,
    Yes, everything turns to mould and eventually rots away. That's why I've never understood the "ashes to ashes" thing. Life is so much more juicier than that!

    Your comment "...all that is left are fading memories" is beautifully poetic. I'm glad you scraped enough mould away from the surface of the work to find inspiration for that lovely metaphor.