Don’t Be Shy



This one shows a bashful man half turned away from a woman who is about to kiss him. As you can see I painted the man partially looking into her face but as things progressed I turned his face further away so he is looking over her right shoulder. By doing this I think I lost some of the definition of his head (I prefer him on the third photograph.)


The lady is wearing an ear ring and bracelet, just about visible. I was not sure what to put in the background. Through the window I saw where lots of autumnal browns so I used browns, rusty reds and maroons. To put the couple into perspective I added a lantern and some railings in the background. The light is coming from the bottom left making the lady’s hair look a little grey. Its funny how you can spend hours on something that is a foot square.


I knew the title of this painting before I started it. When I was 20 I worked for a horrible engineering company. There was a bonny woman who usually worked on the reception (she had a daughter called “Moon” - have you ever known anyone called Moon? - no me neither.) For some reason she was working in the main office. Once I was eating a sandwich watching her intently as she was applying lipstick in a small mirror with the fast speed and precision that spoke of long practice. Her dark scarlet lipstick matched her painted nails. She must have noticed me gawping as I had stopped eating my muffin impressed by how accurate she was. She was very attractive and two of the main directors were in pursuit of her. I can only remember she was 46 because she said, “I’m four years off fifty” as if fifty meant the death of something.


From her seat she looked up and asked, “Would you like to try it?” I wondered what she was talking about and told her I did not wear lipstick. She meant something else though, stood up, said “Don’t be shy,” and kissed me squarely on my lips. I can still remember the heat of her arms around my neck. She asked “What do you think?” but I cannot remember what whimpering response I managed to utter. I was trying not to buckle at the knees and was looking to grab onto something. It was a bit like kissing a greasy plate if I am honest but it was potent stuff for someone who didn’t really know much about women, especially seasoned ones in their prime.


I always felt a bit sorry for her as she was known as “TB” for “The Blonde” as if her looks were all she had. Its funny how things stick in the memory isn’t it? I remember going to see Father Christmas, sitting on his knee and him giving me an orange shaving kit. I remember Mr Johnston the caretaker at school who making leather clothes crack like whips as he walked down the shiny corridors.