PARIS, June 29 (Reuters Life!) - Ron Wood has been known by aficionados as “the new boy” in the Rolling Stones for decades, but what fewer people know is that he is also a painter.
Wood’s artwork, some 30 oil paintings and prints, is on display through June at the Bailly Contemporain gallery opposite the Louvre museum in the heart of Paris while the Stones tour Europe for the last leg of their “A Bigger Bang” tour.
“He is a gifted artist with his own style. The Stones are not getting any younger but Wood’s art will be there long after the Stones are gone,” gallery art director Helene Bailly said.
Many of the works on display are full of color and intense portraits of the Stones in concert or backstage and of musicians Wood admires such as guitarist Slash, formerly of Guns N’ Roses, or the late Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix.
The show also features a recent series on the Royal Ballet and a French impressionist-inspired acrylic on canvas titled “Orange Girl with Hat”, which was painted with a pool cue.
Though prints range in price from 2,000 to 9,000 euros, drawings from 12,000 to 70,000 euros and paintings from 40,000 to 300,000 euros ($403,400), the pieces are selling quickly.
“We have Stones fans who show up wearing Rolling Stones T-shirts and fork (out) their savings to buy a 2,000 euro print but also art lovers and all those who think they are making a good investment,” Bailly says.
The popular “Forty Licks” print, which depicts band members arms wrapped around each other taking a bow, was among the dozen pieces that were snapped up in the first three days of the show.
But painting is not just a pastime for the 60-year-old Wood, who was an artist long before he even became a musician.
Born into a family of artists and musicians, Wood attended London’s Ealing College, following his two brothers.
He starting to paint at age 12 and planned to be a scenic designer. But after a stint as a sign painter, he turned his attention to music.
Soon Wood was part of acts such as the Jeff Beck Group and Rod Stewart and the Faces before joining the Stones in 1975 as a replacement for Mick Taylor.
As his musical career blossomed, Wood continued painting, drawing his inspiration from band members and musicians he hung around with. But he also has a sideline in painting wild animals, the souvenirs of trips to Kenya.
“Painting is a good outlet for me. With a band I’m part of a unit whereas with my art I control the whole thing,” Wood writes on his website.
In the 1980s Wood produced his first prints after spending months working in a printmaking studio in England. He usually works in styles that include oil paintings, charcoal drawings, woodcuts, lithographs, mixed media and watercolors.
Bailly said she was more stressed before meeting Wood than on the day of her wedding. He turned out to be “a great guy dressed as a teenager with skinny pants and Converse sneakers,”
“He is convinced that music gives him strength to paint and that painting has a soothing effect on him,” she said.
And what do other band members think of his art?
They have been rather secretive about it, though they follow his other career closely. Keith Richards’s wife attended the exhibit’s preview as did Charlie Watts. Mick Jagger had a peek before The Stones played at the Stade de France on June 16.
Over the years Wood has held shows in Europe and North and South America. He had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Sao Paulo in 1996.
The exhibition, at the Galerie Bailly, finishes this week.