A Bright Christmas Tree Ornament

Painting Completed November 2012
15 1/4 x 11 inches, Textured Acrylic with Moondust on Aircraft Plywood

What does the Earth look like from the Moon? That is a question that earthlings have asked me many many times since I returned from my Apollo 12 mission in November of 1969. The best answer I have been able to give is that, "It looks like a bright christmas tree ornament hanging there in the vast blackness of space." I might add, "It is mostly blue and white with some dark land masses visible sometimes, but since the Earth is seventy percent water, the blue of the oceans and the white of the clouds dominate."

When I resigned from NASA way back in 1981 to celebrate what we did in the Apollo program in fine art, I painted that great adventure as well as I could paint it. At that time, 32 years ago, my heart was more explorer-artist than traditional artist.

As I have thought and worked with all my energy, head and heart almost every day since then, my heart and head have profoundly changed. I began to realize I was the first artist in all history to see, to experience first hand, anyplace other than the planet Earth. With this unanticipated realization, this honor, came new thoughts, new responsibilities.

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. As the first artist in all history to leave our planet and paint images that no other artist has ever seen, what I have created will probably be compared to the works of those artists that follow. I want mine to be the most beautiful.

Can I do it? I do not know, but I have made the decision to give it my very best shot.

This subtle, but important, change of direction required that I stop what I was doing and paint images of the earth in every way that I could think of, to find the one that I thought was the most beautiful.

I did just that. It took me 4 months of thought, painting, and more thought, and painting and repainting again. In this process, I painted and repainted 8 small studies and 6 larger paintings.

These paintings, and others that are to follow, are as beautiful as I can paint. Will they be the standard by which all others are judged...Like Monet's water lilies, or Degas' ballerinas? I do not know. You and future humans will be the judges.