'Man Must Explore' - Painting Commander Dave Scott. Apollo 15.

I've had a lifelong interest in Space Exploration, and every once in a while I feel the urge to paint something that truly fills me with awe: The Apollo Moon Landings.

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In 2014 I was lucky enough to meet Captain Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon. I can't describe what that meant to me. It meant so much and needless to say I left feeling inspired and with a burning desire to paint an Apollo painting on a grand scale.

I had a lot of ideas floating around in my head, some I quickly sketched out in oils to see if they would work such as this one of Charlie Duke of Apollo 16, and the other of Eugene Cernan Apollo 17, but in the end I decided to stick with absolute historical accuracy, at least for my first major Apollo work.

CharlieDuke.jpg
EugeneCernan.jpg

My plan was to sift through the many thousands of photographs the astronauts brought back from the moon and to see if there was anything I could enhance, and in doing so, add to the wealth of accurate imagery that Apollo gave us. I wanted accuracy, but I didn't just want to recreate an existing photograph. I wanted to make something that was unique.

I was very impressed by a series of photographs taken during the Apollo 15 mission at the end of the second EVA. ( Extra-vehicular-activity ) These were exactly what I was looking for because they were taken in black and white and were quite grainy. What if I were to add the colour and the clarity to one of these images? ..or to part of one?

DaveScott1.jpg
Apollo15.jpg

I really liked this picture cropped to show just the astronaut and the flag. I thought it was a very powerful stance Commander Scott had adopted, making him look almost like a superhero, and I loved the back lighting on his suit and the flag. All I needed to do now was to do justice to this historical moment by adding colour and the detail that is missing in the photograph. It's harder than you might imagine to make sense of an Apollo space suit, and to be sure that you have everything exactly as it was at that moment. I spent as much time if not more, pouring over photographs of Commander Scott's space suit than I did painting, to make sure I had everything exactly right. It was a labour of love.

I hope I have done Commander Scott justice with my painting. I was 11 years old when he made his epic journey to the moon. I am as awe struck today as I was back then. What I would give to have seen what his eyes have seen.

As Commander Scott stepped onto the lunar surface becoming the 7th man to walk on the moon he said the words: 'I realize there is a fundamental truth to our nature - Man must explore, and this is exploration at it's greatest.' Those words gave me the title for my painting: 'Man Must Explore'

The Apollo Astronauts are to me, the greatest of heroes. Remarkable men who did extraordinary things in a time when humanity dared to dream of a bright future.

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of receiving the following message from Captain Eugene Cernan, the last man to touch our moon.  About my painting he wrote:

 'Eric, Your painting is exquisite.  It captures the essence of exactly like it was – the shadows, the wrinkles in the suit, the flag, the mountains, the footprints –all take me back to a place I used to call home'. 

 I am deeply grateful for those words. Nobody has spent more time on the moon than he has. I could not imagine a better endorsement and confirmation that I succeeded with my painting.

I will leave you with some photographs of the work as it progressed, and with the words Of Apollo 15 Commander Dave Scott himself,  describing his feelings upon returning from the moon. 

                        'The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted.'

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DaveScott1.jpg
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                                                       'MAN MUST EXPLORE'  

                                            Oil on Belgian Linen. 45 x 35 inches.

Milestones...

My treasured little boy Bjorn started year 1 at school today! I am so proud of him.

It's not an easy thing having a child at my age ( I am 53 at the time of writing ) and often by bedtime I am pretty exhausted, but he brings so much joy to my life that I can no longer imagine a life without him. He is full of character and brings laughter to my life each and every day. Walking in the park or the woods, looking for bugs in the garden, watching Spongebob or reading bedtime stories. Whatever we are doing he brings me such joy.

These are precious times and perhaps being older, makes me more aware of this. 

Thank you Bjorn, for being such a wonderful special little treasure. 

.....Maybe now that you are in school I can get on with my commissions! 

 

Wildlife Artist Eric Wilson

Wildlife Artist Eric Wilson

Pastel Safety.

I've been working with pastel for about ten years now, and although I've been aware to keep dust levels in the studio down to a minimum, I never really took the dangers of pastel dust seriously enough before.

Everyone who uses pastel should do a little research into the dangers of breathing in the dust. A simple Google search 'Dangers of pastel dust' brings up more than enough information to convince you that you need to be careful. Inorganic pigments contain metals that are often toxic, such as chrome, cobalt, manganese, nickel and cadmium and these are found in many pastels. The danger appears to come from the small particle size of pastel dust, so small that it floats invisibly in the air and is inhaled by the Artist.

The worst thing an Artist can do, is blow on the surface of his work to remove the dust. I must admit it's hard not to do that, when concentrating on a painting and it's a habit I've certainly been guilty of.

Having researched the dangers I then began some pretty thorough research into what I could do to make sure my working environment was a safe one and I discovered a really first class company called Breathing Space. I telephoned them and they were extremely helpful.

This company makes Blueair-air-purifiers. The amazing thing about them is that they clean the air in your studio so thoroughly, down to a particle size of 0.1 Micron, they are virtually silent, very powerful and yet use no more electricity than a light bulb. I bought the smokestop one, which also removes such things as the smell of solvents when oil painting.

I ordered the product, and it was up and running in my studio the following day. I am absolutely delighted with it and would wholeheartedly recommend it for any artists studio. The clean fresh air is a pleasure to work in!

www.breathingspace.co.uk/blueair-air-purifiers

Blueair air purifier

Blueair air purifier

'I'll show you'

Motivation is the lifeblood of every artist. Without it we are lost and unable to realize our goals. But what exactly is motivation? and how do we get it?

Over the years I have come to realize that what motivates us is not just the good and inspiring things that happen to us, but also the upsetting things that move us and instill in us a quiet determination to do something with our lives.

Life is a strange journey for all of us, and one in which we can either take the wheel or simply sit back and watch the journey unfold. We are all on the journey whether we like it or not, but not everyone sits firmly at the wheel of life. Artists, by their very nature are dreamers and find lifes journey a difficult one, often distracted and preferring to take in the view rather than drive.

Motivation is what we need to succeed and it can come from some surprising places. In today's world we strive endlessly to make everything good, to nurture, protect and encourage. There's nothing wrong with that of course, but the human spirit does not thrive on a sugary sweet diet alone and a more enlightened view, is to accept that life consists of good and bad and that even the bad things can be appreciated when their true value is understood.

Paradoxically it can be a negative experience, that fires our determination even more than a positive one. Somebody putting you down and telling you that you will never achieve something can sometimes work more powerfully than the words of encouragement we all love to hear. 'I'll show you' can be an incredibly strong motivator.

In my life I've always made use of this. The more people told me I could never make a living from art or the more rejection letters I received from galleries and publishers, the more my resolve to succeed strengthened.

A gallery owner once rudely put me down in a crowded gallery, telling me I would never make it with my animal paintings. I left the gallery humiliated with my painting under my arm. Many years later after seeing my work auctioned at Christies, the very same gallery owner wrote to me asking if I would consider putting some work in his gallery. It was a sweet moment turning him down, but in the bigger scheme of things, maybe I should thank him for increasing my determination to succeed.

I recently read the biography of  Robby Robinson. A man who overcame great adversity in his own life to become an international bodybuilding superstar. It is a fantastic read and one particular anecdote really struck a chord with me.

As a schoolboy in the poor south of Florida, he dreamed of escaping the poverty and becoming a sporting hero.  His teacher caught him reading a issue of 'Muscle Builder' magazine in biology class and humiliated him in front of his classmates, telling them he would never be like the men in the magazines and saying to his face 'You will never be like this'  With tears rolling down his cheeks he quietly vowed to himself:

'Oh yes I will'

Years later, when Robby achieved his goal and saw himself on the cover of that very same magazine, one of the first things he did was post a copy to his old teacher. That must have been a very satisfying thing to do. It certainly made me smile when I read about it.

Robby Robinson

Robby Robinson

It's a tough world and you need to use every tool available to you if you want to succeed. When people put you down and try to distract you from your goals. See it as an opportunity to use that energy to your own advantage.

Life throws a mixture of good and bad things at you, but you can use both in a very positive way.