Ronnie Wood

Ronnie Wood is perhaps best known for being one quarter of The Rolling Stones, with whom he has been creating some of the world’s most iconic rock songs since 1975. Wood has also been a prolific painter from an early age, having received formal art training at Ealing College of Art.

 

As his music career flourished, Wood struggled to evade the gaze of the media who regularly documented his hedonistic lifestyle. But away from the spotlight, Wood found solace in his art. He described it as a therapy and would create portraits of those he admired. Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and fellow band member Mick Jagger are just a few of those he has painted, along with other musicians, friends and family.


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Ronnie Wood’s interest in art long precedes his breakthrough with the Rolling Stones. Born in Middlesex in 1947, he grew up surrounded by a family full of creatives. Both of his older brothers were graphic artists and he followed in their footsteps, first showing a talent for painting at the tender age of three. His artworks were featured on the BBC One television programme Sketch Club, an achievement that Wood described as an awakening to art.

 

After nurturing his abilities throughout childhood and into his teenage years, Wood enrolled at Ealing College of Art in London, the same college that Freddie Mercury of Queen and Pete Townshend of The Who attended.

 

In 1964, Wood’s attentions shifted from art when he joined rhythm and blues band The Birds as a guitarist. In the years that followed, he jumped from band to band, having spells with The Creation, Jeff Beck Group and Faces. When Mick Taylor left The Rolling Stones in 1975, long-time friend Keith Richards invited Ronnie Wood to join as his replacement. He has remained a member ever since, enjoying unprecedented international success.

 

Throughout the years, Wood’s music career has taken him around the globe, playing some of the biggest stadium shows in history to record breaking crowds – but not once did the bright lights of stardom shake off Wood’s interest in his art.

 

He made his first prints, a collection of monotypes and woodcuts, in the USA in the 1980s. In 1987, he spent months in an English printmaking studio, honing his craft. His printing techniques include drypoint, woodcut, screenprint and etching. Wood has also worked in cutting edge modern mediums, utilising iPad applications to make more minimalist sketches.

 

Primarily though, Wood is known for his paintings. He has created portraits of many famous figures, including his Rolling Stones bandmates, other musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, actors such as Jim Belushi and Jack Nicholson, and self portraits. Wood has also made portraits of his own family members, including intimate paintings of his wife. Wood has recently expanded into landscapes too, working with watercolour and pastel to bring nature to life.

 

Just as his musical influences feature the blues greats of old, Ronnie Wood has been influenced by many past masters in his paintings. Post-impressionists Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh, expressionist Egon Schiele, and cubist-surrealist Pablo Picasso are the influences which are most evident in his work.

 

Wood’s work has been the focus of many exhibitions, including a major retrospective at Sao Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art, and exhibitions all over the Americas, Europe and in the East.

 

Though he is more likely to be remembered for his colossal contribution to the musical canon, Ronnie Wood’s art is an important part of his creative output, and a unique piece of rock n’ roll history.