"Loads of artists think that tragedy is more sincere than optimism, but I don't feel that way," says painter Ian Bruce.
Life, as with us all, has dealt Ian his fair share of blows, but in moments of creativity it is not despair that he turns to.
Rather, it is the personality of his subjects, a 'love affair with paint' and an eye for humour which are his current counsellors; aspirations which have evolved from a simple childhood desire to 'live like an artist'.
"Take someone like Rembrandt," he says. "The Dutch 17th-Century master, who rose to such fame through his art, only to fall from grace and into poverty for adapting his style and loosening his brush-stroke. The mythology that surrounds these artists, their bohemian lifestyle - all of that used to fascinate me."
Sitting in paint-streaked jeans on the floor of his studio in Clapham, the 24-year-old graduate of Edinburgh College of Art is now busy creating his own mythology.
Introduced by chance to notorious London haunts such as Soho's Colony Room and 33 Portland Place, Ian has yet to find himself short of personalities for his portraiture.
Sebastian Horsley, author of Dandy in the Underworld,and who Jeremy Vine described as "a pervert who stands for everything that is wrong with British society today", is the proud subject of one of Ian's latest works.
Looking fondly at the canvas, Ian says that Sebastian has become a role model, of sorts. "Not in the sense of prostitutes and Class A drugs, neither of those interest me, but in his ability to present himself to the world as he wants."
This ability to live without inhibition is something Ian says was epitomised by his disabled twin brother Edward, who passed away during an epileptic fit three years ago.
"People do tend to sugar-coat things when someone they love dies, but I can honestly say that I've never met someone as open as Edward. His fearlessness gave him an amazing ability to spread joy to others and that is something I will always aspire to."
Edward's influence runs throughout Ian's demeanour, but is perhaps most visible in his parallel career on stage.
Lead singer and devilish dancer of the poker-hot swing duo The Correspondents, he has fast developed a reputation for setting parties alight.
Traces of this 'other life by night' also filter through into his paintings.
Take The Correspondents for example, one of a new set of works which are being exhibited at Marylebone's Thompson's gallery.
Done in collaboration with friend and fellow artist Rose Davey, it shows one of Rose's meticulous geometric landscapes with a cheeky pair of two-tone brogues cast into the canvas.
Layers of meaning unfold when you know that the band are actually named after the 1920s shoes, which are nicknamed 'correspondents' in the shoe business.
But these ins and outs - or quick conceptual jokes we've come to expect from contemporary art - are not what makes Ian's paintings tick.
"The nine pieces in my solo part of the Marylebone show are a tribute to Velázquez - the 'daddy' of the Spanish Golden Age (late 16th and 17th Century) - but you needn't know any of that to enjoy them."
Nine garments hang from coat pegs, each reflecting the personality of the characters who feature in Velázquez's most mysterious painting,Las Meninas of 1656.
From Nicholas the Jester to the Little Princess, each one manages to create its own living atmosphere out of the static.
"Whether painting people or objects, I'm always hoping to reveal something hidden," Ian says, armed with a smile as always.