SCOTS jazz singer Carol Kidd has told how painting saved her life after the death of her beloved partner John Mackay.

She made the revelation ahead of a charity event where her self-portrait will be auctioned along with an artwork by award-winning Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler.

Kidd will also sing at the auction in aid of Artlink Central, which runs arts programmes for Scottish children and adults with additional support needs.

Loading article content

The National:

Singer Carol Kidd

“I do feel a lot of empathy with Artlink and the work they do,” she said. “I lost my partner John in 2003. I was floored, I was down, I was so depressed. It was very bad. He went very suddenly. I think I was dying in front of my kids’ eyes.

“I’d always liked to sketch and my daughter turned up one day with an easel, canvases, paints and brushes. She said ‘I want you to start painting’. I’d never put paint on anything before, it was always just sketches.

“So for me, the pure therapy of painting got me through what was a very bad time.

"I really do feel that any kind of arts therapy, whether it's musical therapy or painting therapy, is such a good thing to be involved in.”

WHAT ABOUT SCHEFFLER?

ALONG with Kidd’s self-portrait and an autographed copy of her new album, there is expected to be much interest in Scheffler’s donation – an unpublished, colour illustration for Julia Donaldson’s much-loved children’s book Tiddler.

“Art is so important for everyone; I think it’s wonderful what Artlink Central do, especially for children,” said Scheffler. “Julia has been a major supporter of the charity for many years now, and I am always happy to help when I can. I really hope the auction piece will do well on the night. It’s an alternative version of an illustration for the book Tiddler, which features a little grey fish who loves to tell tall tales. Often I start a picture for a book but I don’t finish it, I don’t always know why. But if I like it, like this one, I will go back and finish it later. Sometimes the ones which don’t go into the books are even better.”

Scheffler added: “I am rather fond of Tiddler, he loves to daydream. Although it gets him into a lot of trouble, so I’m not sure he’s a good role model!”

IS KIDD SELF TAUGHT?

UNLIKE Scheffler, Kidd started painting seriously much later in life even though her art teacher at school had told her she had a talent for it.

When she first took it up again after Mackay’s death, she says she simply made “lots of different colours, because at that time in my life there was no colour at all.”

A breakthrough came one day when she sketched a woman in a bath.

“At first she was just all black and white. Then I thought 'that looks really good' and I put in red hair. That was the very first painting I did which had a particular form to it.”

After that Kidd, who was once described by Frank Sinatra as “the best-kept secret in British jazz”, says she went into a “frenzy” of activity.

“I was painting every single day. One painting would take me maybe a couple of weeks to get it the way I wanted it. Or maybe even a couple of months. If there was something I didn’t like about it I would change it or I would scrap it altogether. With not being a proper artist I didn’t know when to stop, so I would over paint it and then have to start all over again. It took me a long time to get it right. I have never been taught and I would never ever say I am an artist. To me, I’m a singer who paints.”

The National:

Kidd's self-portrait

WHAT ELSE IS ON OFFER?

WORKS by leading Scottish artists including Graham Stewart, Cate Inglis, Barbara Rae and Calum McClure, will also be auctioned on April 22.

It is hoped the sale will raise vital funds to allow charity Artlink Central to continue running arts projects for people experiencing mental illness, learning difficulties or social exclusion in central Scotland. Therapies range from an animation project at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, where young patients have been learning how to bring their own hand-drawn characters to life, to a drama group for adults with learning disabilities.

“We are a very small organisation that works incredibly hard to make a measurable difference across central Scotland,” said director Kevin Harrison.

“Our work with dementia has led to establishing Creating Conversations, a new enterprise designing social products for the care sector, and we have worked with veterans to repurpose their skills into creating sculpture for public spaces in hospitals.

"We also enable adults with learning disabilities to find accessible ways to devise, compose and notate music and we support young emerging artists to find non-traditional routes to developing their practice through bespoke services and commissions.”

Tickets for An Evening With Artlink Central at Bridge of Allan Parish Church Halls at 6.30pm, which includes wine and a light supper, are on sale for a donation of £15 or more at www.artlinkcentral.org.