Astronaut-turned-artist Alan Bean still reaching for the moon
Web posted on: Monday, October 05, 1998 4:10:28 PMEDT
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Twelve men have walked on the moon. Only one was an artist.
Now Alan Bean is sharing his visions with the world. In his new book, "Apollo: An Eyewitness Account by Astronaut/Explorer Artist/Moonwalker Alan Bean," the former Navy test pilot who became the fourth person to walk on the moon shows readers and art lovers his interpretations of his time spent on the moon.
The book is a collection of Bean's original artwork, detailing the Apollo space program and the quest for the moon that culminated in six lunar landings from 1969 to 1972.
'It was very, very amazing'
In November 1969, Bean flew on man's second trip to the moon with Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon. Gordon stayed behind in the command module while Conrad and Bean went to the lunar surface.
Nearly 30 years later, recapturing that distant adventure has become his life's work.
"It was very, very amazing," Bean, 66, said in a recent interview. "I can remember walking on the moon. I can remember that it's that (heavenly) body way out there that looks golden. But sometimes it doesn't seem real."
Bean left NASA in 1981 and made a successful transition from spaceman who dabbled in art to full-time professional artist whose paintings are commissioned by collectors.
He and writer Andrew Chaikin have collaborated on the book of paintings and text published by The Greenwich Workshop Press. It is due in stores October 15.
'The only artist in the world'
The book includes an introduction by astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn, and has received praise from the likes of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, who calls Bean's work "astroartistry", and Tom Hanks, the actor and producer who spearheaded HBO's recent docu-drama on the moon missions.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Bean's paintings have an out-of-this-world quality to them. They show white-suited astronauts working and cavorting in what astronaut Buzz Aldrin -- who made the first moonwalk with Armstrong in July 1969 -- described as the moon's "magnificent desolation."
Each work is painted on a rough surface that Bean prepares by imprinting it with a hammer and boots he used on his moonwalk. He mixes in pieces of moondust-laden patches that were affixed to his spacesuit.
"I do it just to make it moon-like. The moon is very rugged," said Bean. "It took me eight years to realize that I was the only artist in the world who could do that in my paintings."
'It seems farther away now'
In one painting, called "Tiptoeing On The Ocean Of Storms," the artist paints himself walking on the moon, and text underneath recalls what he was feeling at the time.
"It seems like I could run forever on the moon and my legs would not get tired ... "
Another picture features fellow astronaut Eugene Cernan, part of the Apollo 17 mission, taking the Lunar Rover for a test drive. Beneath the picture, the caption describes the purpose of the rover, and includes the astronaut joke: "The Rover comes with a written, one hundred-percent lifetime warranty."
"All that drawing is just right, but once that's complete, I can be as impressionistic as I possibly can. I find color schemes that I just like and that just feel right," Bean said.
Bean never did any sketching while he was in space, which he regrets now. Instead, he relies on memory, photographs and conversations with other moon veterans to give him material for his paintings.
Bean's hope is that his work will inspire interest in space exploration, particularly among young people.
"It seems farther away now because there are no rockets getting there. Nobody is going," he said. "Maybe all this will inspire some kid to go try to be a pilot or an astronaut."
Reuters contributed to this report.
Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.