Stunning Earth Murals Showcase the Beauty of Nature While Respecting Its Fragility

David Popa Mural of a Woman on Floating Ice

Finland-based artist David Popa takes an unusual approach to his street art. While he was raised in New York City with a father who was a graffiti writer, Popa doesn't use spray paint to create his murals. In fact, he doesn't even use walls, trains, or other typical surfaces. Instead, he is drawn to nature and blends his evocative art into the landscape by creating earth murals.

At the outset, deciding how to create artwork that wouldn't harm the environment took some careful planning. And to get inspired, Popa had to turn to the past. “I asked myself at the inception of creating work in nature what did the cave painters use? Cave painters would go to great lengths to find earth pigments as well as use chalks and charcoal to make their work,” the artist tells My Modern Met. “My materials are the same, by using earth pigments—also known as ocres or iron oxide—as well as charcoal and chalk.”

Popa mixes natural pigments, charcoal, and chalk with water and has a wide array of tones to execute his work. Incredibly, he is able to achieve incredible detail and depth even using these limited materials. And while the final pieces are ephemeral, he photographs each mural as a way to provide lasting documentation of the piece.

From portraits painted on ice as it breaks apart to faces appearing where glaciers once were, it's clear that Popa is meticulous in selecting the locations for his artwork. “I am looking for locations that are stunning from above and appear to be latent with buried life—waiting to be uncovered. Working near the water, on fractured ice floes and generally in locations where nature can interact with the piece in unexpected ways is the goal.”

While Popa's work is impressive from a technical and emotional standpoint, it also stands apart for the environmental message that it sends.  His pieces are reminders to take pride in the beauty of nature, while at the same time, respecting its fragility.

To see how Popa puts together these pieces, check out his Instagram, where he often posts videos of his creative process.

David Popa uses natural pigments to create large-scale earth murals.

Portrait of a Woman Painted on the Earth by David Popa

Earth Painting Using Natural Pigments by David Popa

Earth Murals by David Popa

His ephemeral land art pushes him to work with the elements and the unexpected—like ice breaking apart.

David Popa Mural of a Woman on Ice

David Popa Mural of a Woman on Floating Ice

David Popa Mural of a Man on Floating Ice

“The main goal of my work is to draw my viewer to the miracle and mystery of our existence here on earth.”

Earth Mural of an Eagle by David Popa

Earth Mural by David Popa

Portrait of a Woman Painted on the Earth by David Popa

On his Instagram, Popa often posts videos that give insight into his creative process.


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A post shared by D A V I D P O P A (@david_popa_art)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by D A V I D P O P A (@david_popa_art)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by D A V I D P O P A (@david_popa_art)

David Popa: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by David Popa.

Related Articles:

Artist Paints Haunting Portrait on Melting Ice in Canadian Arctic

Artist Paints 55,000 Square Feet of Grass Using Biodegradable Paint

Artist Spreads Positivity Across the Globe With His Eco-Friendly Street Art

Artist Paints Stunning Murals of Women in Water All While On a Paddle Board

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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