Boston HeraldArt of a Stone
Ronnie Wood gets lot of satisfaction creating artwork
By Sarah Rodma
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Ronnie Wood still gets butterflies before a show. Any kind of show.

You’d think the Rolling Stones guitarist might not have nerves anymore - much less ones that get to him.

After all, he was part of several seminal rock groups - including the Faces with Rod Stewart - before signing on with the Stones. He’s currently on the most lucrative tour in history with the world’s highest-profile band. And, more quietly, he may be on the most lucrative art gallery tour in history, stopping to exhibit his finely detailed paintings, etchings and drawings in every major city on the Bigger Bang tour.

He’s also earning critical kudos and millions in the process. Last year, Wood hit the million-dollar milestone with his Stones portrait “Beggar’s Banquet.”

 “If somebody wants to pay a million dollars for one, who am I to say no,” says Wood.

He returns to Newbury Fine Arts this month with an exhibit that runs through Jan. 29.

But the man known to his friends as Woody says he enjoys the frisson of fear that comes before both musical performances and public exhibitions of his artwork.

“It would be pointless if I didn’t get butterflies, because I’m always striving to do better,” he says on the phone from what sounds like a busy Montreal hotel room.

Phones ring in the background, voices call out questions and Keith Richards - “one of my best subjects,” says the artist with a laugh - makes a cameo appearance during the interview to “heckle” Wood and say a rusty-throated “Hello!”

It’s precisely that exciting, zoolike atmosphere that makes Wood - who trained at London’s Ealing College of Art before rock ’n’ roll came calling - so grateful for his other life contemplating the canvas, scribbling in a sketchbook or puzzling over a sculpting project during lulls in the band’s schedule.

 

During the recent holiday break he came up with, he says, “loads of new images,” including impressions of Bob Marley (musicians are a favorite focus), wildlife renderings (Wood champions the protection of African rhinos) and landscapes (the view is often from a hotel room).

“The art stuff that I have been doing during the break is a welcome solo indulgence, where I can just enjoy myself and create artistically,” says Wood, who credits a creative family while growing up for inspiration. But bar chords and bright lights never take a back seat to brushes and still-lifes for Wood. “Now that I’m back in the music mode, it’s just great to be part of the group effort again and create music, so I’m lucky to have the two.”

  Bob Marley by Ronnie wood
 

Between the music and the artwork, it appears Wood will never have any spare time on his hands, which is fine by him because, he says “I don’t want to become a couch potato.”

The rooster-coffed 58-year-old also plans to revisit his musical past in the near future. “I have an anthology of my solo stuff over the last 30 or more years, going from my first group the Birds through Creation through the Jeff Beck Group through the Faces, Rod Stewart, Stones, solo stuff, it’s going to be a very interesting collection. I haven’t got enough time to really do that yet. I planned it out, but I have to focus all my attention on the Stones at the moment, because it’s mad,” he says. .

Considering all of the above, it’s easy to wonder if Wood ever feels underrated. “Yeah,” he says with a laugh. “But I’m always going to be the youngest. I was the youngest in every group I’ve been in, so there’s always room for me to come on.”

 
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Ronnie Wood Age 13
 
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