Andrew Marr paints us a picture of his early inspirations

The journalist and presenter says his stroke has made him a stronger artist

When did you start to paint?


I have painted and drawn ever since I can remember – certainly since primary school. The first time I actually took a set of paints and a board outside and tried to paint “properly” I was probably about 12. 

Who or what first inspired you?

My parents gave me a small book, a Dolphin paperback, of paintings by Van Gogh. I don’t quite know why. But I immediately thought I’d never seen anything as beautiful and, as children do, “I want to do that”. I was also lucky in having a family interested in painting. 

Did it come easy?

Never did. Never has. 

How did your stroke in 2013 affect your ability to paint?

My drawings post-stroke are different. My style is looser, more confident. I don’t make any great claims for the drawings other than they show me coming alive again. That makes them a victory of sorts. Knowing I could draw made me realise I would be OK. 

What do you enjoy painting the most?

Landscapes with interesting shapes and strong colours – Wester Ross, Devon, anywhere around the Med. I like drawing people very much as well, trying to draw fast. 

And what do you struggle with?

People. I haven’t yet done a successful portrait painting. 

Explain the satisfaction that you get from painting?

The complicated world, with all its problems, contracts to line and colour; and in making a painting you are making something which, good or bad, has never existed in the world before. Time vanishes. It’s difficult, frustrating, intriguing and entirely pleasurable all at the same time. 

Which painter do you most admire?

That changes all the time. At the moment, I couldn’t choose between Gillian Ayres, Howard Hodgkin and David Hockney.

What one tip would you give someone picking up a brush for the first time?
Just keep going. 

The Andrew Marr Show is on Sundays on BBC1 at 9am


The Big Painting Challenge is on BBC1 at 6pm