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Posts Tagged ‘Apollo’

Space Artist Alan Bean Radio Interview

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Astronaut Glory II digital painting
Cropped version of Astronaut Glory II digital painting

Last night an interview with space artist and Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean aired on WBEZ here in Chicago. The interview, conducted on the PRI program The World opened with Alan Bean discussing one of his favorite paintings – a self portrait titled That’s How It Felt To Walk On The Moon and the emotions he felt walking on the Moon: "It’s an incredible moment. It’s a moment where you feel like you’re the luckiest guy on Earth. It’s a moment where your life is at stake and the people that got you there had better have built that suit right…"

Bean went on to discuss how he went about incorporating moon dust into each of his paintings. The key is a realization that Bean had regarding emblems that had been cut from his Apollo and Skylab spacesuits and presented to him by NASA upon his retirement from NASA.

"One day I was sitting down … and looking up at these emblems from Apollo 12… You know those things are dirty with moon dust. I had wanted moon dust to put in my paintings but didn’t have them and never thought of it being in those patches… If I would be willing to cut them up I could put them in the paintings. And then I would have pieces of my spacesuit in there and dirt from the Ocean of Storms… I hated to cut them up… but I’m using the rest of my life to make these paintings. I think it would be appropriate to cut them up and include them in the paintings."

Responding to a question about moon dust and posterity: "I believe in doing what you can because I’ll be gone in 10 or 15 years but your listeners need to think about this: they’re only going to be here once. Sometimes we think there’s other people around that will make up for what we don’t do. Sure they can, they can mow a lawn, they can drive a car, they can take a job and write an article or something but they can not do what’s in the heart of each of your listeners. And if they don’t do it, it will never be done again until time ends."

The radio interview lasted 8 minutes and audio of the interview is available at Moon Artist – PRI’s The World.

The interview was apparently timed to coincide with the July 16 2009 opening of an Alan Bean art exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum titled Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World.

To learn more about Alan Bean and his brand of space art, you can read an interview I had with Alan Bean many years ago and visit Alan Bean’s web site. There is also a brand new book of Alan’s space art: Alan Bean: Painting Apollo by Alan Bean I have not yet seen the book but am looking forward to getting a copy.

Check out this new youtube video of Alan Bean talking about his space art.

The Illustration: Astronaut Glory II

The picture used to illustrate this post is a cropped version of a digital painting I created a few months ago as my way of commemorating the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. A small quantity of signed limited edition versions are available on my web site at Astronaut Glory II Space Art Print.

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Remembering Apollo

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Remembering Apollo digital painting
A section of the Remembering Apollo digital painting

I was recently reading about the NASA pull back on its plan to send humans back to the Moon (see NASA may abandon plans for moon base) and could only shake my head in dismay.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to speak to the high school students from three high schools all of whom were members of the Space Exploration Club. My presentation was about what it takes to design and build a lunar base. As a parallel, I used the Army’s experiences with planning, building, and maintaining Camp Century. Camp Century is/was the fabled nuclear powered city under the ice. Today the name Camp Century is probably best known for its ice core samples which have played a prominent role in helping us to understand the Earth’s climate record. Camp Century was abandoned in 1966 due to the shifting movement of the glacial ice cap. This city was eventually crushed by that slow, steady movement.

I spoke to this group of 50 high school students about Camp Century and lunar bases for a solid hour and then answered questions for maybe another half hour. For me, it was a very enjoyable experience seeing how interested these students were in space exploration, science, and energy.

And then I read that NASA may not build a lunar outpost. That plus the news that Orion will be sized to carry only 4 instead of 6 astronauts is a clear indication that NASA’s fortunes have taken a turn for the worse. I find it hard to understand how the political leaders who spend so much time and effort telling us that we must be graduating more engineers and scientists can simultaneously scale back the one program that is such a source of inspiration to students wanting to become engineers and scientists. Does the left brain know what the right brain is up to in Washington?

This got me to thinking about the Apollo missions and the large influence that they had on my life from a philosophical perspective. The quest to understand and know the universe combined with our efforts to grow humanity so that it can exist beyond the confines of Planet Earth is a noble adventure that should be emphasized rather than trivialized. It was the contrast between what is and what could be that led me to create Remembering Apollo because right now memories of man on the Moon is all we have. I wonder just how long we can survive living off memories.

For me Remembering Apollo captures the most important features of the Apollo missions. There is the barren lunar landscape so aptly described as "magnificient desolation" by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. There is the Lunar Module – the machine that made it possible for the astronauts to land on and return from the Moon. Then there is the Astronaut – the most important element that made the Apollo missions distinct from all the other space exploration missions, mostly forgotten robotic missions to the Moon. In the book Robots in Space: Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel, an unnamed NASA official is quoted as saying “We don’t give ticker tape parades for robots.” We remember Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, but who remembers Ranger, Lunar Orbiter, or Surveyor? The last element is the United States flag, the symbol of the nation that went to the Moon in peace "for all mankind." I must say how fortunate I consider myself to be in being a witness to this, humanity’s first small step into the wider cosmos.

Creating the Remembering Apollo digital painting

The Remembering Apollo digital painting is 5580 pixels wide by 3412 pixels tall and was digitally painted using the same technique that I developed for Quantum Moon. The digital tools that I used were a Wacom tablet, Adobe Photoshop, and a digital painter program of my own design. For other details on the picture, as well as to see both the complete picture and a full size section of the art, see the Remembering Apollo gallery page.

Ad Astra, Jim

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