The Rolling Stones: Five minutes with Ronnie Woods

Ronnie Wood shot to fame with The Jeff Beck Group and the Faces before joining the The Rolling Stones. His debut collection of fine art is currently on show at J'Adore Art in Brighton's Lanes.

Your recent radio awards include Music Radio Personality of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. How did it feel to win a newcomer award after such a long musical career?

When you get to my stage in life, it’s great to be called a ‘newcomer’ in anything you do!

Although you’ve been an artist for most of your life, it’s only relatively recently that you’ve made it a career. What was the catalyst for that change in pace?

I wouldn’t ever really describe my art as a ‘career’, it’s more of a passion. My paintings have been shown around the world and I’ve had some interesting collectors buy my work over the decades, including Bill Clinton, but the main reason I paint is because I love to. When I get inspired to paint I’m almost possessed by it – I just have to paint. There is no kind of therapy like the one you have from starting and seeing a picture through to the end.

The idea of formalising my originals into a collection of limited edition prints came to me when I heard of  Washington Green Fine Art Publishing – they were a natural choice for me. I was aware that the company represented Bob Dylan with The Drawn Blank Series, as well as other fantastic artists such as John Myatt and Pel�, so I approached them.

Tell us something about the writing and editing process that went into [recently published collector’s book] FACES 1969-75. How did it feel to relive those days?

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Ian, Kenney and me all contributed original text and some personal photographs of our time together. Thinking and writing about my years with the FACES brought that time of my life flooding back – the chaotic intensity, the onstage laughs (we really did have some laughs) and of course the off-stage antics.

Do you listen to music as you paint? If so, what?

Always Mozart – he is such an awesome composer and his music is so inspiring and relaxing. Also I think it’s a good idea to give my ears a rest after all those live performances, don’t you?!

Which artistic medium do you find most expressive? Would your first instinct be to paint or to write a song?

It really depends on my mood. Being an artist and a Stone are the complete antithesis of each other but they are both really creative processes. One is a solo effort and the other a group thing. Unlike music, my art is a solo occupation and there’s no one else to blame. Then again, no one else gets the satisfaction out of it and nothing else compares to expressing your creativity on canvas… it’s tremendously rewarding.

Who is your favourite artist?

Can I be greedy and have several? William Orpen and Pablo Picasso are just two of the artists that have had a big impact on my work and I’ve even painted originals in honour of them. Egon Schiele, Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh have also influenced me greatly. What you have to remember is each of these artists was pushing back boundaries and I’m an artist that likes to experiment.

How would you describe your style?

You could definitely describe my style as eclectic and experimental. Training in my teens at Ealing College of Arts gave me an inquisitive mind and I’ve spent the last five decades trying different mediums and genres of paintings. I love to mix it up and work on my original pieces in charcoals, oils, watercolours, spray paints, oil pastels and acrylics and to vary the style and medium depending on the feeling or mood I’m trying to evoke. Whilst this collection focuses on my life as a Rolling Stone, I’m very at ease painting anything from landscapes to portraiture, and abstract to architectural.

Printmaking has been part of my creative journey too and I’ve used various techniques over the years, from etching and dry-point, to screen-print and woodcut.

Do you have any memories of playing gigs in Sussex? Do you have any favourite places?

I do love Brighton – heavily disguised in dark glasses and a hat of course! It’s got a great vibe with The Lanes and the seafront and it’s the perfect place to chill out.

Do you know the area well?

Time is always against me and I spend most of my time in London these days. I’ve even taken to ‘painting’ on my iPhone when I’m flying around in a taxi from place to another. I’ve got a place in Ireland, but even getting over there can be a challenge. It’s been great to visit the area to see Keith [Richards] over the years and Sussex is a lovely county… a very nice corner of England.

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