The Washington Post

An Artist Ready for Liftoff

At least she’s logging in frequent-flier miles.  Landscape artist Barbara Ernst Prey is commissioned by NASA to capture the launch of the Discovery space shuttle.  The problem is, the ship was supposed to leave Earth more than a week ago but hasn’t.  Prey flew from her home base of Oyster Bay, N.Y., to Cape Canaveral on July 12 for the next day’s scheduled launch, only to fly back home the following day – without painting – because of the shuttle’s technical difficulties.

“I’m on standby,” she said with a chuckle.  Although Prey pays her own travel expenses, she says she doesn’t regret traveling so much last week.

Prey does extensive research on her subjects before she picks up a brush.  For the shuttle launch, she studied photographs and plans to snap pictures, as well as be a “roving eye” during the event.

This painter is part of NASA’s little-known fine arts program, which has included Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol.  In the past, she has painted the international space station and a commemorative portrait of the space shuttle Columbia.

Prey plans to pack her bags and travel to Florida yet again for Tuesday’s scheduled launch.