Painting the Wild Ride of Life
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If he hadn’t been a musician, he would have been a full-time artist.Yet even though he’s a member of possibly the most famous rock group on the planet, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood still makes time for painting drawing printing and sculpture. In fact, he says, art and music are equally important to him.

“They are so closely intertwined in my daily life. I can hardly separate one from the other, except to say I feel extremely privileged to have both in full force,” he says. “even on the exhausting days, there is sheer excitement and energy generated from both.”

Art has been a vital part of Wood’s life since he was a boy. His father taught him to draw and he grew up painting with his elder brothers, Art and Ted. Wood achieved his art A-level a year before the usual age, and trained at Ealing College of Art. But he was unable to get into Pinewood Studios as a scene painter as he wasn’t a member of the union. Instead, his first job was as a sign writer.

  Ronnie Wood on the cover of Aritst and Illustratiors

Then music took over his life, and ar had to take a back seat ­ though he trained professionally in art later, and now exhibits his artworks all over the world.

In a short break during a hectic world tour, he explains why he needs art just as much as music.

You have used a range of materials, from oils to charcoal to bronze. Which do you prefer?

I enjoy all mediums. My life is so diverse, from the city to the country and from the stadium stages to art galleries, it takes a variety of materials to capture my world on a daily basis. I have recently done  a series of sketches of the dancers at the Royal Ballet during rehearsal and from the wings. It’s been a fascinating experience and a wonderful opportunity to explore the human form with pencils. During my professional training in New York City in the early ‘80s I also worked in woodcut techniques, and screenprinting, etching and the intaglio process. It’s always good to experiment with different techniques.

You tend to specialize in drawing figures. Do you particularly like the human form as a subject for your art?

I am absolutely fascinated by the human from. I recently did a show in London of drawings and paintings of my wife and muse Jo. I am constantly looking to capture humans in many different moods and settings. Jo has been a constant companion and theme throughout my studies of the human form. And lucky for me, she is incredibly patient and just stunning. I find inspiration everywhere – I always have a notepad with me, ready to capture the moment and sketch…

What are you trying to convey in your pictures?

It’s about a story, an experience. With your story, texture, colour and message. I also believe art should be dramatic, narrative, but also a bit sly, witty, multilaryered and, of course fun.

While sketching celebrities, are you aware of recording history, or do you see them just as  figures or shapes?

There are moments in both my professional and family life that I constantly want to record these extraordinary moments in a meticulous way. Looking back at these works they do become intrinsically tied to a larger history, but while you may have the intention to capture a specific moment in time, it is only once you are looking back over a catalogue of works that it becomes a living history.

Is there a close relationship between your music and your art – do  the tow forms of expression together make a stronger, more creative whole ?

Absolutely. Music is art, art is music on paper. I am so lucky to have the experience of both in my everyday life – it certainly makes life interesting. And there is no shortage of inspiration provided through music, performing, being on stage in front of hundreds of thousands, the electricity, the song writing and rehearsing.

You recently stated producing wildlife portraits and helped set up a reserve for the white rhino – is conservation something close to your heart?

I grew up in the country and have a home in the countryside of Ireland ­ the wild is a place I have always been drawn to. Equally, I find the animal form fascinating. We share a planet with these other living/ breathing creatures who are so stunningly different from ourselves. Wrapped up in your day-to-day cosmopolitan life, this is something you often forget ­ I know I do.

The Faces by Ronnie wood, Rod Steward
Miles Davis painted by Ronnie Wood
wild Horses by Ronnie Wood
Do you usually paint from life drawings, form photos, or from memory?
All of the above
What inspires you as an artist?
Experience above all else. But there is no way to separate one element from any experience ­ it is the package of everything together. I don’t think I can isolate one specific element. Our would have to ask me again in each instance, depending on mood, spirit and setting.
Which artists have inspired and influenced you?
So many. I can  hardly name just a few. My taste is incredibly varied from Picasso, Caravaggio and Goya to William Orpen, Bansky and Tracey Emin, to the street painter in the market bazaar in Bucharest.
Is there a new technique you’d still like to learn?
I would love to work more on sculptures, maybe even working with iron. I’ll need some time off-tour for that, though ­ I can hardly start carting around iron in my paining kit.
Where can we see more of your work?
I will have an exhibition at Scream art gallery in August. Scream is an art gallery space in London opened a year ago, which serves to add a bit of Rock n’ roll to the traditional British art enclaves.
Are your children following in you footsteps?
My kids are all extremely talented in different ways. My daughter Leah, is currently attending Chelsea Art College and is very talented. My son Tyrone, has a keen eye and interest in art but has taken to a different side.
How has your work changed and evolved over the years? Do you think there’s still some room for improvement?
Art ­ like life –  is always an evolution. I am very excited about this new series of sketches I am working on of the Royal Ballet dancers. Of course, there are always ways to improve and explore, and my work has certainly evolved over the years. As I have got older, I think I have also got bolder and even more daring. Watch this space though: it’s certainly not over yet!
With your life full of music, why do you need art at all?
It’s all part of the wild ride of life ­ the experience, the inspiration, the comedy and drama… I’m proud to say it’s my life  ­ always has been and always will be.
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Ronnie Wood Age 13
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