About Me

Welcome to my Art, Astronomy and Photography Blog. In my professional life I am an Art Director and Production Designer in the animation industry. Some of my film credits include "Anastasia", "Titan AE" and "Barnyard the Original Party Animals". I have also worked on TV Shows like "The Simpsons", "Beavis and Butthead", "Back at the Barnyard" and "Planet Sheen". If you would like to see my work related art please click on the Go For Launch Productions link below. Although I am very passionate about what I do for a living my other passions are photography, painting, astronomy, astrophotography and anything to do with NASA so the subject matter of most of my paintings is related to the space program and I have enhanced some of my photographs to give them an extraterrestrial feel. My paintings and photographs are organized into several catagories in the links below. Browse around and enjoy.

The Apollo Program

The idea of landing a man on the moon was conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D Eisenhower. Apollo began after President John F. Kennedy proposed a national goal of  "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth" by the end of the 1960s. Kennedy gave the now famous speech on May, 25 1961 in an address to Congress. Kennedy's Goal was accomplished on July, 20 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon while Michael Collins remained in Lunar orbit. Prior to getting to the moon there were many trips into space starting with Mercury and then Gemini. Each launch had a different purpose and testing. Every one of them got them closer to landing a man on the moon. Apollo VIII was the first manned mission to the moon but there was no landing. This mission was to get into orbit and find a landing site for the Apollo XI landing. It was an exciting time for America and the rest of the world. The Apollo program ended in 1972. Twelve brave men walked on the moon and remain the only 12 to have done so to this day. When will we be going back?

"Welcome Home Apollo XVII"

Apollo XVII was the last mission to land on the moon. The mission was one of geology. Before heading to the moon the astronauts, Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt spent a good portion of their training in Arizona learning geology. Their teacher was Eugene Shoemaker. The goal was to teach the astronauts how to identify different rocks at a glance and from a distance. For the astronauts this was training outside of their astronaut training except for Harrison Schmitt who was a geologist but was not an Astronaut. Schmitt went to astronaut camp and the other went to rock camp. Once on the moon the goal was to find a certain type of rock. This may sound easy but the moon is covered in fine dust so to find what you are looking for took a keen eye and good training. Eugene Shoemaker had a theory that the moon came from the earth and if the astronauts could find the rocks he was looking for he could prove his theory. They did and the answers fell into place. Shoemaker himself wanted to be one of the astronauts on the moon but could not, he was disqualified because of having Addison's disease. He died in 1997 and in 1999 some of his ashes were taken to the moon by the Lunar Prospector space probe. So, there really is a man on the moon after all.

"Apollo VIII Achieving Lunar Orbit"

Apollo VIII was the first manned mission to the moon launched on Dec, 21, 1968. On the mission was Commander Frank Borman, Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders. Their goal was to achieve new milestones in the race to get to the moon. Number one was to get to the moon. Number two was to get into orbit. Number three was to get as many pictures of the moon as possible for future landings and number four was to return safely to earth. All the milestones where accomplished. Getting to the moon was no easy task and getting into orbit doubly so. The Service Command Module (SCM for short) does a 180' roll, fires the main engine to slow down and then the moons gravity pulls them inward into orbit. This was a very tense time for the astronauts and the folks at NASA because it had never been done before. After the burn the SCM headed around to the dark side of the moon and communication with the folks at NASA is halted for around 1 hour due to Los Of Signal (LOS for short). Basically the moon becomes a barrier that stops the radio signals from reaching earth. The crew made it around the dark side and had achieved orbit and over a period of 20 hours completed 10 more before hitting the Transearth thrusters sending them back to earth.

"Apollo XI, Mission Accomplished"

Apollo 11 took off from the Kennedy Space Center on July, 16, 1969. It was the 5th manned Apollo mission and the 3rd Lunar mission. Most importantly it was the first to put man on the moon. On July, 20, 1969 the Eagle (Lunar Excursion Module, LEM for short) landed in the Sea of Tranquillity. Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins orbited the moon in the SCM. After spending 21 hours and 31 minutes on the lunar surface Armstrong and Aldrin blasted off in the LEM and reunited with Collins orbiting in the SCM. The thruster were ignited for Transearth Injection and they returned safely to earth on July, 24 1968. Mission accomplished. It is very strange for me to sum up such an amazing event in just a few short sentences. This was after all the most historic event in human history to date. A big thanks goes out to all the Astronauts, the folks at NASA, their partners, the men women and children that made sacrifices and most importantly the ones that gave their lives to advance human kind. You all made humanity proud.

  "Apollo XII Thanks for Your Service"

Apollo 12 was the 6th manned spaceflight in the Apollo missions and the second to land on the moon. The launch was on Nov, 14, 1969. Aboard was Commander Charles "Pete" Conrad, Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean and Command Module Pilot Richard F Gordon. Conrad and Bean spent a total of 31 hours while Gordon orbited above in the SCM. The mission ended with a splashdown on Nov, 24, 1969. The lifeblood of all the Apollo missions was the Service Module. It is called the Service Module because it does just that, services the needs of the crew. The Service Module held the much needed fuels for maneuvering, getting into orbit and heading back to earth known as the Service Propulsion System. The module also had 16 other thrusters that needed fuel, called the Reaction Control System. These 16 small engines were used for rotation control of all three axes. The module also was the power supply providing the electricity for the systems in the command module and the inner working if itself. The power was supplied by 3 fuel cells, yes fuel cell technology in the 60s. Storage tanks for oxygen and water were also in the Service Module. Communication with earth was achieved by a steerable S-band high-gain antenna mounted to the module. The module was 24.8 ft in length, 12.8 ft in diameter and weighed 54,o6o pounds. Upon returning to earth the Service Module detaches from the Command Module and burns up in the atmosphere. It is kind of ironic to think that the great minds who designed and built it knew from the start its final destiny would be vaporization.

     "Apollo VIII Transearth Injection"

    After completing 20 orbits around the moon it was time for Apollo 8 to return home to earth. This maneuver is known as "Transearth Injection". Apollo 8 was a milestone in the Apollo missions because of a few things. The crew made up of Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders were the first humans to see earth as a whole planet from deep space and photograph it. They were the first humans to travel to the moon. The first to get into Lunar orbit and take the best detailed images of the moon to date at that time. On December 24th 1968 while in Orbit the crew did a live television broadcast reading the first 10 verses from the book of Genesis. At the time it was the most watched TV program ever. 1968 was a very turbulent year for America and the rest of the world. After the TV broadcast, telegrams poured into NASA, one of which simply read, "Thankyou for saving 1968". The crew received the message from NASA after the thrusters were hit for Transearth Injection.

"Lonely Orbit, Apollo XI"

Michael Collins was the Command Module Pilot on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Once in orbit, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin jettison the LEM and head down to the moon surface leaving Michael Collins in the Command Module orbiting the moon. From an outsider looking in you would think this to be a very lonely experience, this could not be further from the truth. During the 48 minutes of each orbit Collins was out of  radio contact with earth. Collins never felt lonely but rather "awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation". Collins felt very much a part of the mission at hand. In July of 2009 Collins revealed that he was very worried about Armstrong and Aldrin's safety while on the moon surface. Michael Collins is a true American Hero and was one of 24 men to make it to the moon and back.

"Service Command Module"

"About my painting of the Service Command Module and my Painting Technique"
The entire image of the SCM is painted in Photoshop CS4. Prior to starting the actual paint work I spend many hours researching. This includes looking at what I can find in the NASA archives on their site. I also use Wikipedia and Google images extensively during the research phase. Even once I start the paint work the research continues almost until I am finished. As a Production Designer in the film industry it is important to have a clear understanding of what you are designing in order to get it right. This extends to knowing what all the little gadgets and details are for and what role they play in the whole. In other words knowing what I am painting and why. The SCM was a case of, "What is that for and what does it do?".

I paint everything on layers in Photoshop using a styles pen and a Wacom Tablet. The tablet acts as my canvas and the pen as my brush. The SCM is made up of 625 layers

Presenting one of my paintings to Alan Bean


  1. Apollo 11 landed on July 20, 1969, not July 21. But the paintings are really Spectacular!

  2. Hi Tj,

    Thanks so much for pointing this out. It has been fixed.

    Thanks for the complement on my art.

    All the best, Phil