Closest Relative

Painting Completed October 2012
15 3/4 x 15 3/4 inches, Textured Acrylic With Moondust On Aircraft Plywood

Several months ago, a young German woman commissioned me to create a painting of the Earth rising above the Moon in which the Earth was turned so her home country would be visible. She said, "My grandmother died when I was just a young girl. She was my closest relative in my childhood and I loved her very much. Often in my sleep I dreamed she was on the Moon. I still think of her every time I look at the Moon at night." I told her I would do some research and see if that ever actually occurred during any of the Apollo missions.

I often consult with five of my friends in an effort to make my paintings (and the stories that accompany them) as accurate as they can possibly be. They are: well known author and space journalist, Andrew Chaikin; astronomer and creator of the Lunar Surface Journal, Eric Jones; co-editor of the Lunar Surface Journal and a man who knows English grammar much better than I, Ken Glover; professor of dentistry and a man who seems to know a lot about everything space related, Ulli Lotzmann; and lunar visualization wizard, Michael Marcus.

For this painting, using complex astronomy computer software, Andy, Eric and Michael determined that Germany was indeed visible from lunar orbit at times on the Apollo 10 and Apollo 11 missions.

As I began painting I wanted this to be the best painting of Earth I have ever done. This was not an unusual thought, as right from my first painting long ago, my goal for every single painting has been to create the best painting possible with my knowledge and skills.

As I painted along, a new thought entered my head: I want this painting of our planet Earth to be the most beautiful that can ever be painted. As the centuries unfold, long after I'm gone, other artists will venture far enough into space to see the Earth as I have seen it, and they, too, will be inspired to paint it.

Can I do it? Can I make this painting -- and those that follow -- the most beautiful planetscapes of Earth that can ever be painted, like Monet's water lilies, or Degas' ballerinas? I do not know, but I will give it my very best shot. You and future humans will be the judges.

My client and I also began to search our minds for a title for this painting. I believe the title is a most important artistic element of any painting, as it suggests the viewer direct their thoughts in the way the artist hopes they will go.

Since the Moon is our closest relative in the universe, this title seemed just right.