Judging the NASA Life and Work on the Moon Art Contest

Earthrise Over the Moon
Earthrise Over the Moon

Yesterday I finished up my part in the judging of entries in the NASA Life and Work on the Moon student art contest. The theme of the contest was portrayals of people living and working on the Moon. There were some interesting submissions to the contest. There were a few submissions that ignored the fact that this was an “art” contest and instead submitted presentations, pamphlets, etc. While these were outside the bounds of the contest, it was a pleasure to read through these and learn about what these persons considered to be the benefits of humans living on the Moon. For more contest details, visit the NASA art contest site The Moon: Back to the Future.

We judges were to grade the artist's submissions based on four different criteria: artist statement; artistic elements; creativity; validity. Scoring was 20 points for the artist statement, 30 points for artistic elements, 30 points for creativity, and 20 points for validity.

Artist Statement
The artist statement was a written explanation of the submitteed art. Unfortunately some artists failed to provide a statement. I'm not sure why someone would spend a substantial amount of time creating an artwork to submit to the contest and then not take the comparatively small amount of time to explain the nature of their submission. The artist statements spanned a wide gamut from simple explanations of the image to complex explanations of the artist's thinking and planning process.
Artistic Elements
Judging the artistic elements involved evaluating the artist's use of line, shape, color, texture, etc. For me this represented the most difficult component to judge because such components are highly dependent on the observer's values.
Being creative while adhering to the contest's rules for validity can be a challenge. One of the more creative submissions was an art deco style advertisement for tangtini – a drink composed of Tang and vodka. Unfortunately the connection between the piece and theme of living and working on the Moon was rather tenuous.
As the theme of the contest was living and working on the Moon, the submitted artwork was expected to be realistic in its depiction of the nature of the lunar environment and what living there would be like. Artists had to balance being creative while staying within the bounds of reality. Judging the validity of some submitted art was challenging in this category. For example, there was a very nicely done terraformed moon. But just how valid is that? Unfortunately that piece did not depict any human presence on the Moon.

I must say I enjoyed the experience of being a judge in the contest. The last contest I had an opportunity to judge was the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest which ended in January. Every artist should take a crack at being a judge in an art contest. It is one thing to look at a picture and say “Oh I like that” and quite another thing to analyze the picture's composition and artistic elements with the goal of assigning a grade to the picture. The process can be very instructive.

About Earthrise Over the Moon

I created Earthrise Over Moon to illustrate this blog entry. As a source I used one of the HDTV images from the JAXA Selene (aka Kaguya) mission to the Moon. I then brought the picture into Adobe Photoshop and used the “Find Edges” filter to create an outline map of the areas of contrast change in the source image. I then used several custom brushes of my own creation to digitally paint the picture. For my Photoshop brushes, I used custom brush tip shapes and activated the Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Texture, and Color Dynamics options. These brush controls were set to be sensitive to pen pressure as I was using a Wacom stylus to paint the picture.

Ad Astra, Jim

| Return to the Blog Index | This entry was posted on Saturday, April 19th, 2008 at 6:51 pm and is filed under Photoshop, Space Art, Space Exploration.