It’s forty years since Eraserhead fixed David Lynch into the cultural landscape. We know what he’s been doing since then, especially lately with the new episodes of Twin Peaks, but what came before?

DAVID LYNCH : THE ART LIFE goes some way in defining Lynch’s formative years. Although directed by a trio of aficionados, Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Holm, DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE is pretty much a self portrait, with Lynch narrating anecdotal stories of his childhood, school days, early days and film work right up to the shooting of Eraserhead.

Lynch  talks of an idyllic upbringing, with early memories of sitting in a mud hole with a pal. Into adolescence, he recalls what most boys would identify with,- “I was real busy doing things my mother didn’t want me doing.”

He dreamed of living the art life – drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and painting. All through DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE, the septuagenarian is making art – painting, sculpting, drilling, fixing wire – as he tells story after story of his first thirty years on the planet.

He talks of his friendship with Jack Fisk, his mentoring by Bushnell Keeler, his experiences with cannabis, and the importance and impact of dreams on his work.

A dreamer in a positive and creative way, Lynch was constantly creating, knowing his early paintings sucked, but kept at it to find what was good. His persistence and diligence he attributes to his father instilling a profound and enduring work ethic. Accidents, mistakes and mess fire his imagination.

Early, unplanned parenthood put pressures on the artist, necessitated taking a job as a printer to pay rent. In Philadelphia, he lived in fear and sadness, until he was rescued and his art resuscitated with a grant from the American Film Institute where he began work on Eraserhead.

DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE is a fascinating insight into one of the great idiosyncratic artists of our time, inspiring to the aspiring, whether that aspiration is a life in art or making an art of life.

DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE is available now on DVD through Madman.