AN artist painted the village red when a special guest opened his new gallery and studio.
Graham Borthwick has opened Brush Strokes in East Street, Whitburn, as a place to display his work.
And to celebrate, South Shields MP David Miliband was on hand to officially open the studio along with other local business owners and family and friends.
Mr Borthwick, who has been painting since he was a youngster, was delighted that the Labour politician dropped in.
He said: “It was brilliant that Mr Miliband came along, a real privilege.
“He’s into art, and spent a lot of time here and took a real interest in my work and my background.”
The 52-year-old, who lives in Whitburn, presented the former foreign secretary with a print of his painting of Souter Lighthouse.
Mr Borthwick’s father Kenneth was a lecturer in foreign art at Sunderland Polytechnic, and he thinks his influence brushed off on him.
He added: “Art has always been in my blood, and I’ve enjoyed it since I was young, but when I took early retirement a few years ago I really got back into it.
“It allowed me to indulge myself in what up until then had been a hobby.
“I’m really pleased with Brush Strokes. There’s a studio out the back where I can work and run classes, and a gallery to display my art.
“It’s quite unusual in that I do landscapes, seascapes, abstract and modern art, whereas most people only focus on one discipline.
“So far I’ve had great feedback and have been commissioned by people to do paintings of their favourite landmarks in the borough.”
Brush Strokes, which is based at 198 East Street, is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm (but is closed on Wednesday) and Sunday between 10am and 2pm.
For more information on the classes, or to discuss commissioning a painting, call 529 2780.