Paul McCartney and Luigi’s Alcove

Big Mountain Face

I’m sure you know Paul McCartney as a singer and song-writer. But did you know the ex-Beatle also paints?

A few years ago, I got the book Paul McCartney: Paintings. He does these big, expressive, semi-abstract pieces that have a sort of visceral effect, with lots of drips and runs. Very much influenced by Willem de Kooning’s abstract expressionism.

With all his talent, even Paul McCartney can get stuck. In Paintings, he shares a fun, creative little strategy he has devised for dealing with stuckness. He has a scenario he revisits every now and then. He has an alter-ego named Mr. Blendini, and Mr. Blendini makes paintings for an imaginary friend named Luigi, whose restaurant has an empty alcove. Luigi needs a painting to go in his alcove:

“I like blending, to take a color, mix a couple of colors and blend them through, and so when I am doing that, I always imagine myself as Mr. Blendini… The Luigi thing has to do with when you are thinking to yourself and you can’t help the conversations that go on in your head. For me, if I ever get stuck, and I think, Why am I doing this? Why am I standing here putting paint on this thing? do I want to sell it? and if I can’t think of any reason, again I have this fictional person in my mind, who is Luigi and he owns a restaurant. He has this alcove in the middle of the restaurant, a little alcove, and he needs a painting. He has asked me, ‘Please, Mr. Blendini, please make a painting for Luigi’s alcove.’ So I always think, This is for Luigi.”

It’s a neat trick, conjuring up an imaginary place where your work will go. It may be not far off from where you want it to go eventually. If you want your work to appear in a particular, imagine it in that place. Make it fit.

Image from