Artist Hockney says 'marijuana store' among his few outings

London (AFP) - Veteran British artist David Hockney says he is working harder than ever and only ventures out to the doctor, dentist, bookshop and marijuana store.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday, the Los Angeles-based painter said he spends more time painting as deafness has curtailed his social life.

"I work as hard, even harder now," he said. "I just work all the time. I don't go out from here -- I'm too deaf," Bradford-born Hockney said.

"I don't really have much of a social life and I don't really mind much."

Hockney, 77, said he is "perfectly happy", despite leaving his home rarely. "I go out to the dentist, the doctor's, the bookshop and the marijuana store," he added. "But that's it."

The artist said he now avoids parties as he cannot hear properly when there are more than one or two people in a room.

Yet he said he was "discovering things all the time still" and defends his adopted home city in California, to which he moved in the 1960s.

He told interviewer James Naughtie: "The light is 10 times brighter. I remember one or two people saying to me, 'Why have you come here to this cultural backwater?'

"Well, some of the great works of art of the 20th century have been made here. City Lights, Some Like It Hot. Hollywood then was still big."

A longer version of the interview will be broadcast on Radio 4 before Christmas.

Hockney has been known as a campaigner against restrictions on smoking.

In recent years he has spent much time working at Bridlington in Yorkshire and his paintings of the wolds uplands have been the theme of exhibitions.

Last year the East Yorkshire coroner returned a misadventure verdict on Hockney's 23-year-old assistant Dominic Elliott, who died after drinking lethal acidic toilet cleaner at Hockney's home there.

The inquest heard that Elliott drank Knock-Out toilet and drain cleaner, as well as having snorted cocaine and ingested other drugs.