Pioneer and Apollo Astronaut Autographs

Moonprints in the Paint

When Alan first began painting professionally, he sought art materials which would stand the test of time and last for centuries. He uses acrylic paint, a difficult medium to master. For his painting surface (or "ground") he originally chose masonite. When we first met him at a Houston art show in 1986, he said, "Y'know, at NASA I learned if you want to make things last, they gotta be stiff".

He prepares his painting surface with a heavy plaster-like coating of thick acrylic paste. While still wet, he textures and imprints the surface with all manner of his lunar tools, including his lunar hammer and a core tube bit, and lunar overshoes for example.

In recent years he began incorporating bits of gold foil insulation from his Apollo hatch in the surface, and also crumbled, scorched bits of the protective heatshield from Apollo 12. He even embeds precious snippets from his lunar suit patches, themselves saturated with the powdery moondust from his own time spent on the surface of another world.

He has switched from masonite to "aircraft board", which is a product of select imported birchwood, which he prefers because it is still used in the construction of aircraft surfaces.

Thus, each original Alan Bean painting is more like some sort of lunar sculpture, lovingly carved with lunar tools, moon boot imprints and other ghostly impressions from 40 years and a million miles ago. Actual pieces of Apollo and the moon itself make up these unique treasures.

And then there is the painting itself, a historic remembrance from the only artist among only a dozen moonwalkers. Fortunately for us Alan is a world-class artist who fills out the dry pages of history with his own unique color and perspective on the triumphant pinnacle of the Century of Flight, the Apollo moon landings.

Alan is a very fastidious and patient artist. He turns out only one to six paintings per year, often re-painting the whole composition to achieve just the right feel, color and contrast. The ideas come much easier than the execution, the mark of a fertile mind and exacting hand.