Issue 65, Spring 1976
Mr. Bean and Mr. Muller were in the Coffee Cup sharing a grinder when the notion came to Mr. Bean to paint a lion. He got up at once without excusing himself and went to the hardware store where he bought a can of yellow paint, a can of orange paint, a can of green paint, a can of black paint, a bottle of turpentine and two brushes, one large and one small. He took them to the shed behind his house and cut himself a piece of masonite twenty-four inches by twenty-four inches square.
He saw this lion as seated dead center in the manner of a family portrait, the mouth closed, the expression mild, and in the background four lambs following each on the heels of the other, as alike as patterns on wall paper.
It took Mr. Bean six days to finish his picture, not because the subject presented any particular problems but on account of the time it required for the different layers of paint to dry.
When it was finished he set it on a shelf and studied it for a few days, then laid it face down beneath a pile of sandpaper and forgot it.
A few days later it came to him to paint a picture of his neighbor’s house.
Although he had lived next to Mr. Adams for forty odd years they had never spoken. The lady who lived with Mr. Adams was not his wife and the house was surrounded by a wall made of smooth stones resembling balls of chewing gum.
Mr. Bean used the same technique in painting his neighbor’s house that he had used in painting the lion, except for the wall which he made by gluing on real pebbles and in the sky above he wrote: “Thou shalt not covet.”
When his neighbor’s house was dry he laid it above the lion but this time he did not forget it. As he walked the streets of Stonington he looked for other subjects such as the cannons in Cannon Square and the monument to the American Revolutionary Troops in front of the library, but he did no further work until the Portuguese Festival when he painted two fishing boats and the grandstand decorated with crossed American and Portuguese flags.
These works he showed to his wife who said, “Well, I was wondering what was keeping you out there in the shed. You could put the boats over the mantlepiece, but I don’t like the Portagee Fathers. It’s cranksided,” by which she meant she did not like the Portuguese or believe them a fit subject for a work of art.
In his heart Mr. Bean agreed. However, he was not master of his inspiration and did not wish to discuss the matter.