Going Out


When I go walking in the countryside I've meet lots of people. The more remote the place you're exploring the more likely you are to stop and chat to them. If you're both going at a brisk pace you just nod or say a couple of words. If wild winds are whipping words away and you can barely form words due to numb cheeks you still look into their faces to make sure they're alright. It still surprises me to see some women out in make-up. It can be wildly windy, bitterly cold, raining sideways and they're wearing foundation, mascara and eye-liner. I've even seen fake eyelashes. I've seen small compacs whipped out to check the face is still looking good. Once I saw a woman out in the wilds in make-up and wearing a cheongsam.


I'm not sure what's behind it - a self- confidence thing? A vanity thing? I'm not sure. Perhaps they're going to take some selfies and need to look good. I'm glad I'm so ugly I know it's futile embellishing things. Why bother trying to pump up a popped tyre? I have a shower, spray on some deodorant, have a shave and that's it. Nothing else happens. You can't make an orchid out of an odour eater can you?


Anyway here's a painting of a woman applying mascara done from memory. I go walking on Sundays and usually time the car journey so I arrive somewhere at 1pm. I consume sandwiches, coffee cake before putting on some boots and disappearing into the countryside. Once I was eating while observing a woman in the car in front of me. While sat in the driver's seat she replaced her spectacles with contacts lenses and then set about doing her face in the tiny mirror before disappearing into hills. This is her from the side viewpoint.


I wasn't sure where to start with this one. I sat at my desk and drew out the broad outlines of a face. I had a packet of Polo mints and put the tube in my fingers pretending it was the mascara. I painted in my thumb and parts of other fingers (not easy) and this probably worked out to be the hardest part of the whole process. I blasted the canvas with acrylics to kill off all that frightening white. I sat back at my desk, put on Tina Turner Live In Amsterdam and goaded myself on. I put on a layer of oil paint and waited till the next day to start painting the flesh (if I paint flesh in artificial daylight it looks orange the next day.)


Things went well over the next two hours and it was soon finished. This baby can be hanging on your wall next week for £16,000. At the local sauna I dropped my Mr Whippy ice-cream on the knee of a naked woman and when I tried to wipe it all off she smashed in my skull with her elbow. I've had to have £16,000 of corrective surgery and need to recover the money.


Mascara started appearing in the shops after French perfumer-entrepreneur Eugene Rimmel invented it in 1872 (made from coal dust and petroleum jelly.) Itís still going though Rimmel is now owned by global cosmetics giant Coty Inc. It was nothing new: about 3000 years before Jesus was around the Egyptians made it from crocodile dung, water and honey, applying it with pieces rounded animal bone.