Paintings - Front Cover Paintings
Author : Paul McCartney
Editor : Bulfinch Press, Boston-New York-London
Date : 2000
Language : English
Pages : 150

" I don't think there is any great heroic act in going in slavishly every day and saying, "I must do this." So what I find is that I do it when I am inspired. And that's how I can combine it with music. Some days the inspiration is a musical one and other days it has just got to be painting. "
Paul McCartney, from the interview.


" For more than seventeen years Paul McCartney has been a committed painter, finding in his work on canvas both a respite from the world and another outlet for his drive to create. His painting, like much of his life, has been a very private endeavor.

 In April 1999 he exhibited the work for the first time in Siegen, Germany, where it met with critical acclaim, which led to his decision to share the work through the publication of this volume.

Full of life and intense color, these paintings reveal McCartney's tremendous positive spirit as well as a visual sophistication and bold handling influenced by his friendship with Willem de Kooning. He carves, scratches, and sculpts the paint, creating complex and layered works. Faces abound in the paintings, from the many lovely abstract portraits of Linda McCartney to irreverent, affectionate portraits of the Queen of England. Humor plays against more somber imagery — masks and Celtic motifs — while his landscapes radiate a sense of place.

Beautifully designed and produced, the portfolio of paintings is accompanied by candid photographs by Linda McCartney other husband in the studio. A collection of texts by contemporary critics and curators place the paintings within context, while a long and insightful interview allows McCartney's own voice to be heard. Frequent points of crossover between his music and visual explorations will intrigue those interested in the artistic process. Rarely is one able to find an artist working with such confidence and skill in such diverse media. All followers of McCartney's will be delighted to see these exuberant works unveiled and to experience this unexpected and accomplished expression of his creativity. "
—  from the back jacket.

Arizona, 91, with "Red Abstract White Moon"

Paul and Willem de Kooning in 1983 (left) and in 1984 (right).  De Kooning was a family friend and Paul and Linda would always visit him when they were on Long Island. It was probably watching de Kooning in action that inspired Paul to do his first canvases.

Essays & Interview

Paul McCartney's work is analyzed through a series of essays and through an interview in which Paul comments on each of his  83 paintings that are exhibited in this book.


Foreword: Paul McCartney And The Courage To Get Lost
by Brian Clarke

Paul McCartney In Context
by Julian Theuherz

Exposure And Influences In The Paintings Of Paul McCartney
by Barry Miles

From Line To Color - From Gesture To Picture
by Wolfgang Suttner

Interview: "I Don't Know - It Looks Like A Couch"
Wolfgang Suttner speaks with Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney : Reverses And Other Advances
by Christoph Tannert

Long Island painting, East Hampton, 1990

Brian Clarke

   Born in 1953, Brian Clarke is a painter and creator of large - scale colored glass works for architectural projects. Time magazine has said about him that he "collaborates with some of the most internationally recognized architects as one of the world's leading glass artists." He lives and works in London, New York, and Munich.

Barry Miles

   Born in 1943, Barry Miles is a freelance writer living in England and France. He is cofounder and editor of the International Times, an underground British magazine. Supported by McCartney, he created the Indica Bookshop and Gallery in London, a center for artistic and avant-garde literature. Later he led Zapple, the experimental literary label from Apple Records. Miles is author of the McCartney biography Many Years from Now and works about Allen Ginsburg and William S. Burroughs.

Christoph Tannert

   Born in 1955 in Leipzig, Christoph Tannert studied art history and archaeology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. An art critic and exhibition curator, he lives in Berlin and writes regularly for the newspaper Berliner Zeitung. Since 1991 he has been project leader for the Bethany artists' house in Berlin.

Wolfgang Suttner

   Born in 1951, Wolfgang Suttner, head of the cultural department of the county council district of Siegen - Wittgenstein, Germany, studied art, psychology, and German philology and has been organizing exhibitions and art shows for twenty years. He also founded the Siegen Art Society, is a board member of the Association of German Art Societies, and has been publishing and lecturing for the past twenty years on twentieth-century art and artists.
Wolfgang Suttner collaborated with Paul McCartney on cataloging and documenting the latter's artistic oeuvre and directed the world's first exhibition of McCartney's paintings in the Lyz Art Forum, Siegen, Germany.

Long Island brushstroke, East Hampton, 1990


Julian Treuherz

   Julian Treuherz is Keeper of Art Galleries for the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, responsible for the Walker Art Gallery, Sudley House, and the Lady Lever Art Gallery. He was previously Keeper of Fine Art at Manchester City Art Gallery. He is the author of numerous books and articles, with a concentration on aspects of nineteenth - century British art.


Paul McCartney's Paintings

There are 83 paintings pictured in this book. Here follow some excerpts of these paintings with the commentaries made by Paul about each of them in his interview with Wolfgang Suttner.

Father Figure, 1992. 

Wolfgang Suttner: How important was drawing for you before you started painting?

Paul McCartney: I used to draw a lot, not necessarily from life but from imagination. And all my days through school I could always draw quite well. I used to do drawings of women for classmates, but we shouldn't talk about that — I was the guy who could draw gorgeous naked women, you see, so for young boys this was a good attraction, and they used to ask me to draw for them. But I have always enjoyed drawing, often cartoon faces. I like the line, not necessarily the content. I like quick lines, very spontaneous lines. I like the circle, a couple of eyes, a mouth, and just characters in the faces, so I have done that quite a bit.

Wolfgang Suttner: Do you now do drawings as a preparing process for your painting?

Paul McCartney: No, I don't normally; most of the story happens on the canvas while I am painting. It has to do with what the paint does, so sometimes I prepare a shape and a rough composition with some lines or with some drawing if I know I want a definite face or something like that, or I put that on with charcoal or a pencil. But then I used to find that the charcoal would pick up in the colors and it would make the yellow muddy, so I started to look for a little process to stop the charcoal moving, and I got interested in turpentine on it, which takes most of the line away. You wipe it away, the turpentine, but it does some interesting things and it stops it blending into the colors, so, yes, I do most of the drawing on the canvas.

" Unspoken Words "

Wolfgang Suttner: This is 100 percent composition—it isn't in every picture.

Paul McCartney: As you can see, it is very spontaneous and I didn't really have any preconceived ideas when I started it, but I started with blue behind it and then I drew some faces on top of that and then just worked on them, just the three faces, and turned it round a lot when I was working. I turned it lots of ways, upside down often.

Wolfgang Suttner: You turned the canvas upside down?

Paul McCartney: Yes, I turned it on its side and upside down, just to get a look at the composition, to see if it worked. A lot of the drawing, these blue marks, were done from the upside-down position, and then in the end I decided it seemed like a woman. It had a kind of grille across it, stopping it from talking, so it was something to do with forbidden speech. And this guy definitely has a cross, the face on the right: his mouth seemed to pick up the same theme, something forbidden. And then this face on the left has got an S mouth, which is a similar thing, so that became the theme.

Unspoken Words
, 1994. 

Boxer Lips, 1990. 

" Boxer Lips "

Wolfgang Suttner: I like this. It has an absolute richness in red colors, bright and earthy colors, and those colors give us
certain meaning.

Paul McCartney: What kind of meaning do you think—hot,
sensual, violent?

Wolfgang Suttner:Mystic...

Paul McCartney: The shape of the head is a bit improbable... and again you have the two sorts of eyes. It wouldn't have been as interesting to me to just have the one eye, or both eyes closed, or both eyes open. He looks like a boxer possibly after
losing a fight; there is a bit of a battering in that left eye, isn't there? So he is a sort of hero figure, a warrior figure, like comic-book heroes. I could almost imagine, like Marion Brando. But I like these white streaks behind it, like highlights, like lighting on him.

Wolfgang Suttner: Do you remember when you did this picture?

Paul McCartney: No. What I will do with all of these things is I will try and guess; I can often figure it out. The smaller canvases tend to be a bit earlier because probably at this time I wouldn't have a big canvas, just do lots of little ones, but then I felt more comfortable with the bigger canvases.

Wolfgang Suttner: He is really perfect.

Paul McCartney: He is really nice. There is something of me in this, I don't know why, I don't know how to describe it, but a lot of these ideas you can see the germs of back in my schoolbooks, old schoolbooks I have: little scrawlings, rude ladies, naked girls, things I was awakening to, and the thrill was being able to conjure them up like an illusionist. I like the word primitive because a lot of what I do is primitive. Because when I started out in music, I never took lessons but I learned in a primitive way to make music. I learned the piano, the guitar in a primitive way.
So when I do things like sail a boat, again it reminds me. I imagine myself like the first man who had a boat and put a sail up, and the same wind that blows me is the same one that blew him. I like that ancient connection. It is like your
heritage going right back. And in the same way in painting—the rock painters, cave artists, I love their work.

" Yellow Linda With Piano "

Paul McCartney: 

A couple of people who have looked at my
book singled this one out, a couple of women
who said that is the picture they would like, and I
am not sure why but I like it. This is Linda relax-
ing in my room at home where I have the piano,
and she is sitting on the couch and she was in
yellow. So I made everything yellow. The piano
isn't really yellow, but I just thought it would be
nice. Her hair was yellow, her blouse was yellow,
so I made them all yellow. So it became a very
yellow picture. It didn't need brown or any of
their real colors. This is interesting because this
little stool here, this little piece here, was Rene
Magritte's. That was in a sale of the contents of
his studio, and in this little thing here are his
charcoals and his drawing pens and pencils
exactly as he left them, including his spectacles.
Maybe it was the atmosphere they liked. It's very
peaceful. I enjoyed making it. It is a very typical
pose of Linda's: the legs — this foot is slightly
strange, but I like it — this shoe.

Yellow Linda With Piano, 1988. 

Unfinished Symphony, 1993. 

" Unfinished Symphony "

Paul McCartney: This relates to the couple of other pictures
where I use musical things. There is one called C minor and one called Key of F, and it was an idea I had to take something I knew very well in music, a chord, and try and paint the feeling it gave me. So C minor might be a rather lonely-
looking picture because it can be a bit of a sad chord. This came on from those ideas, but this was then to try and paint a whole symphony. The whole thing rather than one chord; a musical explosion; an orchestra playing something.
Abstract rather than specific. So for that I just applied a lot of paint and smudged it around and had a lot of fun with it.

Wolfgang Suttner: This picture has so many different greens and different structure. It is like you had a lot of chaotic
things and then you have parts that are calm, like a little concept.

Paul McCartney: Well, you know, one of my big inspirations is nature. I love nature and I love what it does. If you go down on the seashore and watch the water, see what it does to the sand, it bubbles up and goes back — what you could call chaos. And yet it's so beautiful, it leaves beautiful marks on the sand. I kind of trust to that, and that is a large part of painting abstracts —to try and think of myself as nature itself, without a mind, a sophisticated mind that knows how to play a piano or drive a car...

It is very spontaneous, I don't think there was a lot of thinking about that. But, you know, my composition generally is spontaneous. Some people I talk to will ask, "Do you do sketches beforehand?" And I will say, "No, it is alla prima." You know, I just love to play around with the paint and let the paint show me the way, and I sense they are not as impressed if they think I did it spontaneously. So I had thought once or twice of making sketches after I had done the painting. Do little sketches, show shapes, rub them out and change them, and say, "Oh yes, these are preparatory sketches."

List Of Paul McCartney's Paintings

Pintos in the sky with desert poppy
1991 Acrylic on canvas 152x120.5 cm

Home territory
1990 Acrylic on canvas 101.5x86.5 cm

Mr. Magritte's ruler
1995 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Reclining woman
1987 Acrylic on paper 30x25 cm

1988 Acrylic on paper 30x25 cm

Red eye
1988 Acrylic on paper 30x25 cm

A handbag?
1988 Acrylic on paper 30x25 cm

Is this Bernard Miles?
1988 Acrylicon paper 61x46 cm

Blue face
1988 Acrylic on paper 61x46 cm

White dream
1990 Oil on canvas 101.5x127 cm

Father figure
1992 Acrylic on canvas 121.5x91.5 cm

Big mountain face
1991 Acrylic on canvas 152.5x120.5 cm

Red abstract white moon
1991 Acrylic on canvas 121.5x90.5 cm

Mountain landscrape
1991 Acrylic on canvas 60.5x50.5 cm

Is this a self-portrait?
1988 Oil on canvas 35.5x28 cm

Andy in the garden
1990 Oil on canvas 60.5x90.5 cm

Sea god
1990 Oil on canvas 76x61 cm

Twin freaks
1990 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Yellow bow tie
1989 Oil on canvas 56x40.5 cm

Scratch man
1989 Oil on canvas 51x40.5 cm

Shock head
1989 Oil on canvas 46x35.5 cm

Red yellow face
1989 Oil on canvas 56x40.5 cm

Black scratch I
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Black scratch II
1994 Oil on canvas 151x121 cm

Black scratch III
1994 Oil on canvas 151.5x121 cm

Tara's plastic skirt
1992 Acrylic on canvas 121.5x186 cm

Unfinished symphony
1993 Oil on canvas 151.5x120.5 cm

Yellow Linda with piano
1988 Oil on canvas 56x41 cm
Large yellow face
1990 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

1990 Oil on canvas 121.5x75.3 cm

Oak apple twenties man
1988 Acrylic on canvas 35x45 cm

Prehistoric antelope
1989 Acrylic on canvas 61x50.5 cm

Egypt station
1988 Acrylic on canvas 40.5x51 cm

Linda yellow red cross
1991 Oil on canvas 127x101.6 cm

Standing Stone story
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Chief rug
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Celtic eloquence
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Ancient connections
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

White Celts
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Celtic fertility
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Yellow Celt
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Black singer
1991 Acrylic on canvas 152.5x120.5 cm

Upturned critic framed
1988 Oil on canvas 61x45.5 cm

Bowie spewing
1990 Oil on canvas 50.5x41 cm

The Queen after her first cigarette
1991 Acrylic on canvas 56x46.5 cm

The Queen getting a joke
1991 Acrylic on canvas 51x40.7 cm

A greener Queen
1991 Acrylic on canvas 56x45.5 cm

Patti Boyd
1989 Acrylic on canvas 91x70.5 cm

Mr. Kipps
1988 Oil on canvas 61x64 cm

Man o' the sea
1988 Acrylic on canvas 76x61 cm

Elvish me
1989 Oil on canvas 91.5X 91.5 cm

Beach boy
1988 Acrylic on canvas 76x61 cm

Red triangle sand
1992 Acrylic on canvas 101.5x101.5 cm

Beach towels
1990 Acrylic on canvas 101.5x101.5 cm


Shark on Georgica
1993 Acrylic on canvas 91.5x92 cm

Unspoken words
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Dark faces
1991 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Robot and star
1995 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Abstract coloured twenties man
1989 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Blue mask
1989 Acrylicon canvas 61x50.5 cm

White cross face
1990 Oil on canvas 121.5x61 cm

John's room
1990 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Green jacket with cross on shoulder
1989 Oil on canvas 81.5x81.5 cm

Bald head
1990 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Insect face
1989 Oil on canvas 61x45.5

Green head
1988 Acrylic on canvas 101.5x76 cm

Green kiss
1988 Acrylic on canvas 61x49.5 cm

Oast kiss
1988 Acrylic on canvas 61x51 cm

The kiss
1988 Acrylic on canvas 61x49.5 cm

Blue kiss
1988 Oil on canvas 61x49.5 cm

Grey head vision
1992 Acrylic on canvas 60.5x60.5 cm

Housepaint clown
1992 Oil on canvas 91.5x71 cm

Blue tooth
1991 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

Three blue faces in red sky
1990 Oil on canvas 91x91 cm

Angry red face
1989 Oil on canvas 56x40.5 cm

Skull face
1989 Oil on canvas 56x40.5 cm

Scared red head 
1990 Oil on canvas 76.2x60.9

Half red fog face
1990 Oil on canvas 51x46 cm

Boxer lips
1990 Oil on canvas 40x30 cm

Brains on fire
1994 Oil on canvas 121.5x121.5 cm

C minor
1993 Oil on canvas 122x122 cm

Key of F
1993 Oil on canvas 152x122 cm