Apollo 11, The Beginning of the Beginning

Covered this Whole Valley

Painting Completed June 2014
16 1/2 x 24 3/4 inches, Textured Acrylic with Moondust on Aircraft Plywood

I was commissioned by a friend in San Francisco to create two paintings. They would be displayed together, but eventually one would go to his daughter and the other to his son. My friend wanted them to be stand-alone paintings, yet still relate to each other. We spent a considerable amount of time trying to come up with ideas we both thought might be interesting, important, and could make good paintings. It wasn't easy. We finally settled on showing how lunar exploration had changed from the first landing, Apollo 11, to the last, Apollo 17.

I began my research by studying the video of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on another world, the Moon, on July 20, 1969. There they both were, in all their black and white television glory, while most of us humans on our world, planet Earth, watched in amazement.

Neil comes down the ladder first and takes that, "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." He takes some pictures and then scoops up a quick soil sample, in case something goes wrong and he has to get back into the Lunar Module for an emergency lift-off and return to Mike Collins who is orbiting 60 nautical miles above them.

Buzz comes down next. They erect the American flag and talk with President Nixon. Buzz demonstrates various ways to move around on the moon. It looks like a lot of fun. Pete Conrad and I are watching, and we know we'll go next. Now Neil and Buzz get down to exploration. Buzz removes the seismometer and laser-reflector scientific experiments from the back of the Lunar Module. Neil uses some of this time to make an unscheduled investigation of a 110-foot-diameter crater some 180 feet behind the Lunar Module that he had seen during his landing approach to Tranquility Base.

Neil and Buzz have only been on the surface for 2 hours and 20 minutes when Mission Control in Houston begins prompting them to start packing up and getting back into the Lunar Module. Buzz goes over and retrieves the Solar Wind composition experiment. Neil makes a decision to use his remaining time on the lunar surface collecting additional rocks with his tongs. I have painted that moment here. It was the most historic Lunar mission, but the exploration was all completed within 200 feet of the landing point. Neil and Buzz were on the lunar surface for a total of 2 hours and 31 minutes, and collected 46 pounds of lunar soil and rocks. Not a bad day's work for the researchers back on planet Earth who were awaiting the return of those beautiful lunar samples.

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