Ron Wood's major influences include Bo Diddley, Rembrandt, Chuck Berry, Michelangelo, Howlin' Wolf, and the Turners, Big Joe and J.M.W.

Which helps explain Wood's utilizing what he calls "this break" from the Rolling Stones to lay down his guitar and pick up a paintbrush or a piece of charcoal. In fact, Wood's been "doing art" since his undergraduate days in the early '60s at London's Ealing School of Art where, he says, "I did my A-Level degree on the Renaissance period."

Two older brothers who had started out as musicians ended up as commercial artists. But Wood went the other way. While still in art school, he became involved in the city's burgeoning blues and R&B scene as groups like the Yardbirds (which he declined to join in 1968 when they evolved into Led Zeppelin) and the Rolling Stones (with which he linked up in 1975) turned to black American roots music for a jump start into the world of rock 'n' roll.

Now 40 and the absolute embodiment of the bantam rooster rock star with his bone-thin body, sharp features, spiky black hair and chain-smoked cigarettes, Wood had started playing guitar at age 8. By 1964, he'd formed his first group, the Thunderbirds. He joined the Jeff Beck Group in 1969, moved with singer Rod Stewart to the Faces a couple of years later, became a temporary touring Stone in 1975 and settled in as the group's lead guitarist in 1977 (after spending two years playing in two supergroups at the same time).

"But I never stopped sketching my fellow musicians or the interesting people I'd come across," he says.

Sketching, Wood points out, can fill up a lot of dead time on the road. "It's a good emotional outlet, like strumming on the guitar is, or banging the drums. It's another outlet with great reward in it."

Indeed it is. Wood received a $100,000 advance from Harper & Row for "Ron Wood by Ron Wood," a paperback collection of his artworks interspersed with chatty autobiographical anecdotes (he'll be autographing it at Olsson's Dupont Circle store today from 1 to 2:30 p.m.). Earlier this year, he had a successful show at Christie's Contemporary Gallery in London -- "a real feather in the cap, a real stamp of approval" -- and he's since had several shows in the United States, including a month-long exhibit at Georgetown's Govinda Gallery that opens tomorrow (Wood will also autograph his book there from 1 to 3 that day).

Wood had a small show in Texas three years ago that alerted people to his other "career," and he says the current gallery tour is "long overdue. I would have kept putting it off had the Stones not had the break but I thought, well, I'm not going to sit around and do nothing ... Why not see how it goes?"

Prices range from $10 for unsigned, printed posters, $300 to $600 for limited edition prints and up to $6,000 for original watercolor portraits. The Govinda show will feature 20 original works, including six of his "Decades" silk-screens and dry-point etchings of such legendary music figures as Big Bill Broonzy, James Brown, Little Richard and Billie Holiday. There are also wood blocks and monoprints.

With four kids, Wood can probably use the money. After all, though he's been playing with the Rolling Stones since 1975, he was just a salaried musician until 1983. Unfortunately, just about the time Wood was made a full member, the band stopped touring and its future remains somewhat cloudy. "We haven't done much in that time," Wood notes, obviously not speaking of himself.

These days, the Stones' classic riffs have turned to rifts. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been sniping at each other in the press, with Bill Wyman chiming in with an anti-Mick remark now and then. Jagger is insisting on a solo career (his second solo album is floundering in the charts), while Richards is finally at work on his first solo flight and various film projects. Charlie Watts is drumming in a British all-star big band he put together, and bassist Wyman is working on a Stones history and trying to stay out of London's gossip columns.

"We're just waiting for Mick to come back to the pack," says Wood, who's often been forced into the role of mediator within the group. "I'll give it a year or two." As to whether the Stones will ever tour, much less record together again, Wood sighs and says, "I wish I could say for sure. People want to know, don't they?"

Meanwhile, Wood is juggling his art openings and book signings with "The Gunslingers Tour," a liberating collaboration with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bo Diddley (it played in Washington last week). "It's been going great," Wood gushes. "The shows are getting better and better. He calls me 'Brother Ron Woods of the Rolling Stones' and I introduce him as 'Brother Bo Diddley of Himself.' I never realized how much of a Bo freak I was until I started working with him. He's ready for anything."

If there's something familiar-seeming about the Wood-Diddley partnership, maybe it's that Keith Richards played a similar role with another Hall of Famer, Chuck Berry, in the film "Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!" Wood calls it "payback time."

"It's back to the grindstone, hard work, but very rewarding," he says. "And I'm getting an extra reward because the kids are getting turned back on again to Bo, owning up to the fact that we all owe a lot not just to Chuck Berry, but to Bo, too." Without Bo Diddley, Wood has said, "the Stones would never have been who they are. They took a lot of leaves out of his book."

Diddley will help Wood open his new Miami nightclub, Woody's on the Beach, a week before Christmas. "It's an old art deco building," says Wood, who'll do the booking and help with the ambiance, "hoping to give Miami a nice rock 'n' roll center."

Obviously, Ron Wood doesn't just wear a lot of different hats. He wears the whole hatrack.

A couple of years ago, he went back to art school in San Francisco to study woodcuts and monotypes, and last year he was tutored by Bernard Pratt in Kent, concentrating on dry-point etching and the silk-screen process. "I still love oil painting the most, but I don't do enough of that," he says. "So I'm going to get into that next year with big canvases."

His oil subjects, Wood says, are "ordinary people." He says he doesn't want to get locked into only doing celebrity portraits -- "I don't get bored with it but I do want to show another side of me" -- though it's not likely Harper & Row would have advanced him such a big sum for his portraits of nobodies.

Some galleries, including Govinda, have been exhibiting his "Decades" silk-screen series, portraits of entertainment legends from six decades: Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke from the '30s, Charlie Parker from the '40s, James Dean, Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando from the '50s, the (Wood-less) Rolling Stones and Beatles from the '60s, and David Bowie, Johnny Rotten and Rod Stewart from the '70s. The '80s are represented by Annie Lennox and Madonna.

Wood says most of his subjects have approved of his interpretations. Jagger sent a telegram to his London opening: "Break a leg, Leonardo!"

Renaissance man he may be, but he can't do everything at once: He's had to postpone his fifth solo album until next year, though he's already done a lot of work on it with old friend Bobby Womack (whose "It's All Over Now" was the Stones' first American hit), Johnny Marr, Simon Kirk and Kirsty MacColl. "When I've done this Bo Diddley thing and the exhibitions are all rolling, then I'll get back into it," Wood says.

There's also the possibility of a Faces reunion, an outgrowth of a supposedly one-time-only benefit reunion last year. "It could happen," Wood admits. "I spoke to Mac {keyboardist Ian McLagan} on the phone the other night. And I've gotten messages from Ronnie Lane {the bassist who'd been stricken with multiple sclerosis a few years back, whose health is now improving} and from Rod and Kenney Jones {the drummer who may be occupied with the Who's 25th anniversary tour}."

Which, come to think of it, may not leave much room for a Rolling Stones reunion.

"If it snowballs any more," Wood laughs, "they're going to have to wait a while before I can fit it in."