Astronaut Alan Bean, member of the Apollo 12 mission and the fourth human to walk on the moon, died Saturday at the age of 86.
Bean spent 31 hours on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 12 mission, and even he couldn’t believe where he was walking.
“I remember ... saying to myself, ‘You know, this is really the moon. We’re really here. ... That’s the Earth up there,’” Bean told NPR in 2016. “And I said it two or three times to myself.”
He later commanded the second Skylab mission in 1973 and spent 59 days orbiting the Earth.
However, Bean went in a completely different direction after he left the space program: He became a professional painter.
Bean’s paintings mostly chronicle his experiences in those places where very few have gone before. “He devoted his time to creating an artistic record of humanity’s first exploration of another world,” the Bean family said in an obituary posted to NASA’s website.
“I had been painting earthbound subjects for many years,” Bean said on the website where his works are featured. “But my fellow astronauts convinced me to paint my experiences on the moon.”
The family says Bean often textured his canvases with lunar boot prints, just like the ones he left on the moon’s surface, and the acrylics he used when painting were infused with “small pieces of his moon dust-stained mission patches.”
Alan Bean is survived by his wife Leslie, his sister Paula, and two children from a previous marriage, Amy Sue and Clay.