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Interviews

Learning to See the World in New Ways

An Interview with Valentina Luna

by Ashley Hajimirsadeghi, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Mud Season Review

I try to see color for what it really is, like a detective finding out all the details that come from a unique mixture. I experiment with mixing colors to evoke certain feelings and emotions. It’s not all about recreating what we see, but about capturing the energy around us. After all, the world we live in is in fact – a world full of color. 

–Valentina Luna

Tell us a little bit about the creative process when making these pieces, from idea to conception.

My creative process unfolds with each step guided by intuition and an exploration of color. It typically starts when I see an irregular color at a museum or gallery, a color that isn’t just one, its many colors and you can’t really define the name of it. I try to mix it in my mind asking myself what colors actually went into that final color. This initial spark serves as the foundation for work. From there on, I allow myself to freely mix different colors that make sense together.

As the series developed, I noticed myself becoming more and more controlling. I began adding lines, creating what I call “golden cages,” which came from a sense of rigidity within, adding a new layer of complexity showing this new side of me in the work. 

Ultimately, my goal is to create artwork that invites the viewer to experience the joy of color, a vibrant new world.

In your submission cover letter, you wrote about being inspired by Colombia—which is where you’re from. How has being Colombian, and in a broader sense Latin American, shaped your work as an artist? 

My Colombian background has deeply influenced and shaped my vision. Colombia’s diverse landscapes, that come with intense greenery and vibrant flowers, have given me endless inspiration for my work. The richness of the environment has instilled in me a profound appreciation for color and – I grew up with it, I was surrounded by it, it is all encompassing. I always saw the color.

In terms of themes, my background has infused my work with a sense of liveliness. As the series developed, I noticed myself becoming more and more controlling, adding flat lines to the work. These additions reflect my growing fascination with the interplay between freedom and constraint, mirroring the complex political history of Colombia and Latin America.

Being multidisciplinary is always something fascinating to talk about and discuss. When did you begin to experiment with the intersections between mediums, and how has it changed throughout your artistic life? 

I started experimenting with various mediums without fear, embracing the philosophy that by experimenting we are always learning  and nothing really went wrong if you learned something from it. Regardless of the medium—whether it was charcoal, acrylic, oil paint, or even unconventional materials like gasoline—I approach everything with an open mind and a willingness to let the medium teach me the way. I just have to try it because I will never know. I usually learn by making mistakes, but I have to do it myself to actually see. I learn by doing. 

I was never afraid to use different mediums, knowing that at the end of the day, I could always restart and repaint the work. This adventurous attitude allowed me to discover new techniques, textures, and effects that have shaped my work.

As my journey has progressed, I have found myself refining my approach to selecting specific mediums for specific pieces. I learned to listen to the voice of the artwork itself, allowing it to guide me in choosing what it wants and needs. 

When you began the first piece in this portfolio, did you ever expect to turn it into a series? 

When I began the first piece in this series, I didn’t have any expectations. I was simply allowing myself to play, following my intuition and letting go. As I continued painting, I found myself creating flower-like figures playing with texture and light—an exploration of the beauty.

As I went deeper into the exploration, I became more aware of the feelings of control I felt like I had to exert on the work. This struggle manifested in my work as I began to be more exact with the paint handling, creating flat straight shapes within the composition. Encapsulating the free flowers within a colorful cage of perfectly symmetrical lines. These pieces served as a visual representation of my internal conflict between external perfection and internal freedom.

Ultimately, this series evolved into a reflection on the question: “Are we really free?” Through my work, I explore the tension between what we want to do versus what we feel everyone else wants us to do, inviting viewers to reflect on their own experiences of navigating these opposing ideas.

What struck me when I looked at these pieces for the first time was this concept I’ve always returned to as a writer and artist myself: make the ordinary beautiful. How else have you been inspired by everyday objects, sights, and surroundings?

I draw my inspiration from the beauty of everyday life, particularly from the thousands of colors that surround us. Have you ever taken a moment to observe a tree and noticed that it’s not just green? You’ll see hints of orange, blue, or even red mixed in. I’m fascinated by how nature effortlessly creates these colors. That is the spark, the beginning. 

I try to see color for what it really is, like a detective finding out all the details that come from a unique mixture. I experiment with mixing colors to evoke certain feelings and emotions. It’s not all about recreating what we see, but about capturing the energy around us. After all, the world we live in is in fact – a world full of color. 

What other artists have you been enjoying and looking at lately for inspiration (or admiration)? 

For my flower exploration series, I drew inspiration from the impressionist movement for their particular mastery of color. I also looked at artists Klimt and Monet, but the Colombian Carlos Jacanamijoy took the lead because of his expressive and vibrant style of painting. 

Lately, as I’ve been developing a new series, I’ve been studying the compositions of color field painters and abstract artists such as Kenneth Noland, Fanny Sanín, Omar Rayo, and Carmen Herrera. Their use of flat geometric shapes and bold colors has captivated me into creating new and controlled geometric compositions. Their exploration of color as a means of expression connects with me me and has shaped my practice.

Follow Valentina’s new series on Instagram and recent works here.

By Ashley Hajimirsadeghi

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is an Iranian-American multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Passages North, The Cortland Review, DIALOGIST, RHINOSalt Hill, and The Shore, among others. She is the co-editor-in-chief at Mud Season Review and a contributing writer and critic at MovieWeb. She is a six-time Best of the Net nominee, two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and runner-up for the Arthur Flowers Flash Fiction Prize. Her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com.