Art or music? Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood does both
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PARIS, June 17, 2007 (AFP) - Chords or brushes, music or painting? Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood does both, and as the group hits Paris this weekend on the French leg of its European tour, the 60-year-old musician is holding his first art exhibition in France.

"It's a wonderful blessing for me to be able to express musically and artistically," Wood, in jeans and sneakers, told AFP. "It's such a great outlet for feelings to play and to paint."

"In the studio, when you're building a song, when you overdub, it's like when you're doing a painting, you know, with the background and then coming gradually to the main picture. The layers are the same."

Around 30 works by the just-turned-60 artist-cum-musician are on view from June 18 to 29 at the Bailly Contemporain gallery in the heart of Paris, ranging from oils full of colour and movement to pencil sketches, etchings and woodcuts.

"It's a big thing for me," he said. "It's my first showing in Paris and it's been the heart of my inspiration ever since I was a child, all my influences with the great French Impressionists, Cezanne, George Braque and the Spanish too, Picasso."

  Wa Wa Wood by Ronnie Wood

Wood was in the French capital on Friday for the opening of the show, checking the hangings, making sure it all looked right.

Many are portraits, of the Stones in concert, but also of Jimi Hendrix, Slash and Bob Marley."If you capture the eyes of someone, then everything else follows. That's the magic in their eyes," said Wood, who began painting when he was 12 and studied at London's Ealing College of Art before joining the Stones in 1975.

"Basically, I began as a portrait painter. So obviously painting my contemporaries, musicians, was a way to get a start," he said.

"The movement in simple line is what I try to achieve," he added, "It's particularly working recently painting on black, the simple white line means so much more in painting in negative."

Talking about techniques, Wood said "I do everything from small pencil sketches to huge oil painting. I think my favorite at the moment is acrylic because it dries quicker," he laughed.

"But in the end it's oil painting and pastel. Oil is so much more malleable, the paint stays that way for a week, you can work straight back into it and the paint still moves. You can really explore with oil much more than with any other medium."

And he not only paints but collects -- works by some of the world's greatest. He recently bought his first Toulouse-Lautrec print "which I love" and has a small Matisse drawing as well as etchings by Picasso and Rembrandt, "tiny ones, beautiful".

And then he has two works by Georges Braque and an extensive collection of works by Irish painter William Orpen.

Art? he said, "It's a big driving force in my life, I couldn't live without that.

"I need that time, to be with the paintings to get myself ready for the next project."

And what do Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts think of his art?

"They don't talk much about it, but they secretly like what I do! They respect what I do." Wood said that selling his paintings was not the aim of the Paris show.

"To sell a painting is heartbreak, I don't like to part with them. If I do sell one, I make sure I have a print on canvas, or a replica for me to keep!"

"Some of my most favorite paintings have sold, you know, for lots of money, but I still miss them!" he said.

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