Musician and occasional dabbler in water or oil, Paul McCartney has revealed how he learned a different approach to paint from the noted Dutch artist Willem de Kooning.

Replying to a fan's question, McCartney elaborates on his occasional painting pursuits. "Well, I know how to do songwriting more than I know how to paint. So painting, to me, is more of a free exploration.

"Like a lot of people, I used to think that if you're going to make a painting you have to make it very significant and the subject matter has to be very meaningful.

"And then I met Willem de Kooning, who was an abstract expressionist and he showed me that it's just about composition and colour. The way he painted was always about composition, colour, freedom. So, I really enjoy that. And it helped me get over the hang-up of: "This is what am I going to paint."

Artist Willem de Kooning sitting on a chair in front of one of his large paintings in 1953 in East Hampton, New York

The former Beatle used to believe that painting, for instance, some fruit on the table was not enough, the subject had to be something meaningful. This stumbling block had actually stopped him from painting. 

"But then, you know, I knew de Kooning a little bit and visited him in his studio and I just saw what he did. And I talked to him about it, and it was obvious that it wasn't about this "meaningful thing".

"It was about the aesthetics. The look of it. The art of it. The colour and the brushstrokes. The minute I realised that, I just loved it. I started to put all sorts of things in. I wasn't worried about whether they were meaningful or not.

"So then, you know, if I needed an idea, I would just look at some books I had, or look at something else. (I mean, this is when I was painting a lot more than I am now. I don't have a lot of time now).

"I would look at Celtic or ancient art and see the sort of faces that they made. That was lovely. It is very liberating just to put those things in and build a picture around it."