Melissa Mailer Yates describes how she met with Paul Weller for his portrait sitting:
“Paul Weller was a bit of a tight one to fit in as his schedule over the past few months has gone packed. His new album, 22 Dreams, has some fabulous numbers on it, and it has made him bigger than ever.
I had a beautiful drive to Bristol on a sunny Sunday afternoon, although it was a nightmare to find the hall. I arrived as the group arrived and so tagged on behind. I found Steve Craddock who introduced me to Paul in his dressing room where I had the opportunity to outline what we were doing, as he had forgotten I was coming. I said I needed some stage shots, nothing too much. I went stage side to listen to the sound check, in fact I think I prefer this vantage point to listen to a concert now as the sound is actually better! As they finished he was happy to sit on a stool with an acoustic and played along with the playback of the sound check. The stage lighting meant I had some cool shots with great shading.
After Paul Weller & I sat downstairs as they ate before the gig. Steve Cradock made sure I was fed too, so I had quite a nice conversation over a bowl of cauliflower soup with Paul Weller. He surprised me in his geniality and what a nice guy he is, I found someone quite distinctly opposite to the grumpy, Modfather person he is portrayed as. He is a very happy fun person, and seriously driven by and into his music.
Because of the Mod aspect of his character, I felt I wanted to show something of the 50s/60s in the painting. Despite the oft done black & white star portraits touted around, I felt he should be in black & white, reflecting the period. However, his music is very today, and his soul is the music. With this in mind I had his eye reflect something of the music within him, so it is in an exaggerated colour, and the portrayal of the music in an abstract sense is also full of the blues and reds of his songs. I knew I had it just right when I finished it.”
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