Small details from three paintings

From left to right: Celtic eloquence, 1994, Home territory, 1990, Loves termes, 1994

"I thought I would love to paint, I thought it would be very liberating for me, I had got a lot of visual ideas" - Sir Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney was inspired to pick up the paintbrush by the old adage 'life begins at forty'. By his 60th birthday in June 2002, he will have been painting regularly for twenty years - but his relationship with art goes back to his childhood in Liverpool.

At school, Paul remembers being fascinated by the contents of the stationery cupboard - plain, blank paper and boxes of pencils that filled his head with dreams.

The idea of an empty background as a starting point - be it a white wall or clean canvas - is still a source of inspiration for Paul. He talks about the excitement and challenge of 'killing the canvas' or making the initial mark on the surface. It is interesting to note that the minimalist cover for 'The Beatles' (white album) was conceived by Paul with artist Richard Hamilton.

Abstract painting

When he was eleven he used a school prize to buy his first modern art book, including works by Dali and Picasso. Then at fourteen he won an art prize for a drawing of St Aidan's Church on the Speke housing estate where he lived. The church reappears in Paul's 1990 painting, 'Home territory' along with his childhood homes in Western Avenue and Forthlin Road.