Twelve people have walked on the moon. Only one was an explorer artist, Alan BeanApollo XII astronaut, commander of Skylab II and artist. Born in 1932 in Wheeler,Texas, Alan was selected for an NROTC scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin in 1950. Alan was commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy in 1955. Holder of eleven world records in space and astronautics,Alan Bean has had a most distinguished peacetime career. His awards include two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, the Yuri Gagarin Gold Medal and the Robert J. Collier Trophy.As part of the Apollo XII crew, he became the fourth of only twelve men ever to walk on the Moon. As the spacecraft commander of Skylab Mission II, he set a world record: 24,400,000 miles traveled during the 59-day flight.
When he wasn´t flying, Bean always enjoyed painting as a hobby. Attending night classes at St. Mary´s College in Maryland in 1962, Alan experimented with landscapes. During training and between missions as a test pilot and astronaut, he continued private art lessons. On space voyages, his artist´s eye and talent enabled him to document impressions of the Moon and space to be preserved later on canvas.A voracious student, Alan began to immerse himself in polishing his talent with the same intensity he gave to his astronaut training. Inspired by the impressionists and studying under contemporary masters, he is a first-rate artist who is as comfortable rendering sharp realism as he is with portraying subtle emotions through a faceless spacesuit—but there´s a bonus: as the only artist who has visited another world, Bean paints with an authenticity and insight completely unique in the entire history of art by creating a palette mirroring his artistic eye. His is a personal portfolio of the golden era of space exploration as viewed by the only artist who has BEEN there. His art reflects the attention to detail of the aeronautical engineer, the respect for the unknown of the astronaut and the unabashed appreciation of a skilled explorer artist. The space program has seen unprecedented achievements and Bean realized that most of those who participated actively in this adventure would be gone in forty years. He knew that if any credible artistic impressions were to remain for future generations, he must paint them now. »My decision to resign from NASA in 1981 was based on the fact that I am fortunate enough to have seen sights no other artist ever has,« Bean said, »and I hope to communicate these experiences through art.« He is pursuing this dream at his home and studio in Houston.
Bean´s book, Apollo:An Eyewitness Account, which chronicles his first-person experience as an Apollo astronaut and explorer artist in words and paintings, was received with critical and popular acclaim upon its publication in 1998.
“The Falcon is on the Plain at Hadley.” These were the first words heard back on Earth when Dave Scott and Jim Irwin made their landing in July 1971. Falcon had alighted them on a scientific bonanza.As Dave looked around from Falcon’s overhead hatch, he thought, “No place on Earth has such a concentration of features.”There were mountains taller than Everest (relative to their surroundings) and a meandering
gorge a mile across, a thousand feet deep and seventy miles long.
Lunar exploration had come a long way since Neil and Buzz made their first moonwalk just two years earlier. Dave and Jim had the lunar rover, a moon car that would make possible five times the total
surface exploration of the three previous missions combined; and they had improved space suit backpacks which allowed them to stay outside their spacecraft nearly twice as long as any of us who had flown earlier.
I have painted Dave Scott, a good friend and skilled explorer, at the pinnacle of his astronaut career. In his own words, “We went to the Moon as trained observers in order to gather data, not only with our instruments on board, but also with our minds. Plutarch, a wise man who lived a long time ago, expressed the feelings of the crew of Apollo 15 when he wrote ‘the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted.’”
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
John F Kennedy, September 12, 1962
Astronaut and artist Alan Bean is not only the first artist to paint a world other than our Earth who actually went there, he is the first in history to paint our Earth after viewing it from space. His art’s significance as the original human interpretative record of man’s first off-world experience will only increase in its importance and value over time.
Those of us who were lucky enough to be alive during the Apollo program look at Bean’s art and share the stirring of emotion, pride, and the sense of awe that we experienced as we lived through the fulfillment of President Kennedy’s challenge. The whole world (the artist’s “fellow earthlings”) can now look up at the moon in the night’s sky and know that human beings were once there looking back at us.
“Over the years I changed my profession from NASA astronaut to space artist,” says Alan Bean. “I have created several paintings of earth and in the years since the Apollo 12 mission, my astronaut eyes have gradually been replaced with artist eyes. I now see the Earth in my mind’s eye as much brighter than recorded by our cameras,” he says about A Jewel in the Heavens, “and I paint the Earth in bolder colors now.” This Fine Art Giclee Canvas not only takes us off this Earth to look back upon it in the company of an Apollo astronaut, it is a ticket back to one of the most fulfilling times in our lives.
“I began several studies a number of years ago to record my memories of seeing the moon close up. Years later I decided to rework some of the studies as color exercises. With A Most Beautiful Moon, I tried to retain some of the reflected-earth light-shadow effect while adding other earth colors. I’m spending most of my time recording an event that will never happen again in our history: humankind’s first visit to another world.”