"The Moon was a stark and otherworldly place―gray soil, gray rocks and black sky as far as you can see," explains Alan Bean on Apollo Moonscape. "When I first began painting the Moon, I painted it exactly as I remembered it as an astronaut, much the way it looks in the photographs. But a literal record of this black-and-white world doesn't communicate what it felt like to be and work there. To the astronaut-engineer-scientist in me, the paintings looked correct. But they didn't completely satisfy the explorer artist in me, the part that loves color and impressionist paintings.
"Over the years, I noticed that the paintings that I find most interesting depict nature in more beautiful hues, and with more color variety, than I can see in the world around me. I decided to make a series of color studies inspired by Monet. These paintings were done over several years in an attempt to find the limits of colors that could be used to realistically portray the Moon. I chose a photo of Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan at work in the Taurus-Littrow region as my scene.
"A number of these paintings, particularly the greenish-gray one which was the first, have about four or five other paintings under them which I did as I tried to develop the color scheme. I tried to show the heat of the Moon, the feeling of the sun, so I painted one that looks more reddish to suggest the heat. I began to use violets in the craters and the dirt to make it quite beautiful instead of just gray. The other two paintings are a little more advanced and continue towards my work today. I think my role as an artist is not to duplicate nature but to interpret it in ways that are beautiful and important to the artist and, hopefully, to other people."