Apollo, an Explorer-Artist's Vision
Painting Completed 1994, Repainted about 2003
|The Moon was a stark and other worldly place. Perhaps it was best described by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin when he stood on the Sea of Tranquility and observed "magnificent desolation". I agree with Buzz, the Moon is that, and less. It was gray soil, gray rocks, and black sky as far as I could see in all directions. Not much raw material for an artist.
Astronauts, engineers, and all the scientists I worked with deserve art that illustrates the glorious accomplishment of the Apollo program. I want my art to be worthy of the Apollo tradition, of what we worked so hard to do. Apollo made an age old impossible dream come true. All of us who were alive on planet Earth at that time are part of one of humankind's greatest adventures.
But how to paint the Moon? A literal record of this black and white world just wouldn't do. Fortunately artists are not charged with recording nature. We astronauts took wonderful photographs and movies and television as we explored the Moon to do that. We artists are valuable only in so far as we interpret reality in interesting and beautiful ways, and help the viewer see and feel in ways he or she would not otherwise experience. But how do I do that?
My search for ways to share my remembrances of the Moon has not been easy or straightforward. I wanted to paint beautiful color harmonies. I wanted to create paintings that Claude Monet might appreciate, because I love to look at his work. In fact, I often wish he would show up and give me suggestions, but alas, he never has...at least so far.
This painting is of Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan at work in the Taurus-Littrow region of the Moon. It is one in a series that explores ways that I can paint my and my fellow astronautsŐ adventures exploring the Moon. I believe it is not only accurate but beautiful as well.
Editor's Note: This canvas was originally the third in a series of four color studies entitled "Cernan, Gnomon, and Crater". Alan repainted it in about 2003.