David Hockney

There is a secret quality to David Hockney’s paintings. When you look at his swimming pools, you feel you are getting a tiny window into a world - and you can’t stop thinking about it afterwards.

I look at his pictures as sources of mood and colour, I’m impressed by the way he seems able to work so fast and so immediately.

I remember when I was about 19 and I was sitting for my father. Hockney had a show at Riverside Studios, where I was working as the stage manager for the Black Theatre Co-operative. I became aware of him as another kind of painter, someone who was very connected to modern life as it was happening, in a very different way from my father.

When David Hockney asked to paint my son Jimmy, I felt so happy that he’d have the experience of sitting for a proper painter. My father had been dead for five years, so to go back into an artist’s studio was really precious to me; to have that kind of experience again, when I’d only ever had it with Lucian.

Hockney has the same quality my father had of being interested in people and making them feel special. I wasn’t there for the actual sitting, but the day before it started we met for a massive pot of extremely strong tea with a huge cake. Being in California, in this lush, leafy hillside, and having a real, old-school Yorkshire tea with him – it was brilliant.