Portrait of a Crater

10-m crater at the foot of an 80-m fault scarp

Painting Completed 1992
9 x 18 inches, Acrylic on Aircraft Plywood

I was attracted to this crater and the undulating surface that surrounds it the first time I saw it on television. It represented perfectly the surface of the Moon as I remembered it at its most typical and interesting.

The rounded lip of the crater, the undulating lunar surface, no where flat or horizontal, and the scattering of rocks mostly ejected from the surrounding craters, to me was a strangely beautiful and otherworldly visual experience.

This is Ballet Crater, about 10 meters in diameter, named by the Apollo 17 astronauts whose footprints we can still see. In fact, these footprints will remain essentially unchanged from the moment they were made by Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt for the next 40 million years. Compare that with typical footprints made here on Earth.

We are in the Taurus-Littrow valley of the Moon. As an astronaut, I would observe that the rocks and surface material were dense aphanitic basalts ranging between a light and a dark gray, but as an artist I created a painting that is slightly warm green in the sun with cool colourful violet shadow. I feel that I am not an astronaut who paints, but rather an artist who was once an astronaut.

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