As if they weren’t already talented enough, they have to go and surprise us with their extra talent. All these celebrities have more than just great acting, singing, or even royalty to offer to the world – they’re also really great artists. Some paint, some sculpt, some sketch. And their work is quite impressive!
You know how they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Well, as much as that is true, the true beauty of art is that it’s a window into the artist’s mind. Everything from the colors they choose to the materials they chose to the actual subject matter itself is a matter of personality.
You’re for sure going to be surprised by some of these celebrity artists!
Frank Sinatra needs no introduction. Who hasn’t sung their own version of “My Way” in the shower? Well, Mr. Sinatra was also an artist who enjoyed painting with oils, although he was very private about his artwork.
Legend has it that Sinatra started painting pictures of clowns and then everything branched out from there. Other than sad clowns (likely a remnant of his era), he’s also painted dogs, abstract art, other interesting pieces.
It may be no news that Johnny Depp also loves to play around with music when he’s not on set of filming yet another ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie. But did you know that he’s also a painter? The mysterious movie star also prefers to use the medium of oil paints.
When he’s not busy making movies and fronting a rock band, Johnny Depp likes to dabble in painting portraits. His muses? Fellow celebs and friends. He’s painted portraits of his famous friends like Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and Keith Richards.
The next musician was a flower child and lover of art…
Prolific singer and songwriter Joni Mitchell is not only known for her talented music and lyrics, but for her stunning artwork as well. Her paintings have been featured as her album covers. Mitchell actually dropped out of art school at age 19.
Mitchell has said that she always considered herself a painter first and a musician second. She once said that she was a painter “derailed by circumstance.” Her artistic ventures began as early as the age of 3, with a sketch of a duck. She went on to paint portraits of famous friends and love-interests, including Graham Nash, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan.
The infamous Hollywood icon that is Marilyn Monroe did more than sing, dance, and act. She could also paint. This watercolor painting of a rose was something she made for President Kennedy. Marilyn Monroe inspired her fair share of artists throughout the decades, yet few know of her own creative side.
Monroe’s painting of the red rose was dedicated to JFK and meant as a birthday gift, only fueling the flame of rumors that the two were more than just acquaintances. Word has it that the painting was never delivered and so she re-gifted it to herself, writing under her original note, “Happy Birthday Marilyn, June 1, 1962, My Best Wishes, Marilyn.” In 2005, the painting was sold for $78,000.
Next, a funny comedian and actor turned to art to enrich his life…
Jim Carrey is full of passion, both on-screen and off. His love of painting was actually the subject of the 2017 short documentary called “I Needed Color.” He started drawing when he was a child, but it was only in 2011 when his art went public at a show called “Jim Carrey: Nothing to See Here.”
Lately, the super talented actor releases a steady stream of his politically-charged art on Twitter. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not covered in paint or something from doing sculptures,” Carrey said in a recent interview. “It’s all about that for me now—being completely involved, heart, mind, and soul. Sometimes it’s art, sometimes it’s performance, and sometimes it’s just talking to someone.”
Janis Joplin was an exciting and sadly short-lived participant of the 60’s music scene. Yet, very few know that Janis began painting in elementary school and continued until she started on her rock and roll career in the mid 1960’s.
Most of her original work was done between the ages of 12 and 20. Unfortunately, she passed away at the age of 27. The original artworks ranged from large oil paintings to fashion design sketches that made while designing her own clothing.
A former heart throb from the 60s painted his own pieces on the side…
Not only was the classic heartthrob of the silver screen era an acting legend, he was also a very talented artist. James Dean liked to work with watercolors, pen, ink, and sculpture. His most recognized piece of art was the “Portrait of Billy Gunn.”
The portrait depicts Dean’s best friend and roommate, and it was his last before his untimely death at the age of 24. The painting was meant as a gift to his friend and apparently it still remains in the Gunn family today.
Pierce Brosnan, aside from being a retired James Bond, is also a trained commercial artist. Before he started his acting career, Brosnan studied commercial illustration at St. Martin’s School of Art in London. And even though he became an accomplished movie star, the actor still uses his downtime to revisit his first passion.
He will sometimes donate reproductions of his work for charity. At a recent charity auction, a painting of Bob Dylan was auctioned off for $1.4 million.
A major pop star also likes to play around with playful art, next…
Miley Cyrus does more than make pop hits. The singer and actress also likes to create collages and sculptures. Her work has been described as “southern outsider art” and she even earned a spot at Art Basel in Miami as part of designer Jeremy Scott’s New York fashion week show in 2014.
For her show called “Dirty Hippy,” Miley created colorful collages of found objects, including headpieces, bracelets and a mask made of mini-teddy bears. The bold accessories were worn on the models on the runway show.
The Prince of England, Prince Charles, is a pretty successful watercolor painter. And whether he’s a royal or not, his eye for landscapes is remarkable. Sales of his watercolor landscapes have made more than $2.8 million.
But don’t worry, the royal future king of England isn’t pocketing the money. The money is donated to his charitable foundation. The Prince is so impassioned about art that in 2000, he co-founded The Royal Drawing School.
See which rock band front man dabbles in painting…
Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler likes to experiment with painting, creating pieces that have a serious rock & roll vibe. Steven Tyler is the epitome of what a rock star is, and his energy transcends beyond making music and wearing tight pants.
He’s bursting with creative energy, and doesn’t only resort to the rock n’ roll type of art. He also makes prints and experiments with mixed media, creating canvases with his signature skulls and Warhol-inspired guitars.
Stevie Nicks likes to paint in her free time. And the only thing she paints in angels. She started drawing angels when a friend was diagnosed with Leukemia. She has since made a collection of ethereal and whimsical artworks.
In her words: “They’re all angels. I only draw angels. I started to draw when my best friend got Leukemia. And that’s what she’s left me. And so I know she’s really excited now because it has finally, after the last 9 years, come to fruition, and people have finally started appreciating it. But I never drew a thing before she got sick. And I drew that ~ I drew Rhiannon ~ for her, to stay at the end of her bed so she could see something when I wasn’t there. So that she would have something to stare at. And uh ~ so now I know that Robin is up there and I’m down here and we’re both laughing about it because now it’s finally come into its own.”
Which of the Beatles do you know is also a painter?
Aside from being one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Paul McCartney takes his talent beyond the world of music to the world of painting. John Lennon wasn’t the only Beatle with some serious fine art skills.
McCartney began painting his expressionist pieces only after he turned 40. And as a sign of his hometown pride, his first exhibit was at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. He never went to art school, but did get some inspiration from his friend Bill de Kooning, a Dutch American abstract expressionist painter.
The singer once asked Frank Sinatra what songs he should sing. And Frank replied with, “Sing the good songs and you’ll never go wrong.” Bennett applied the same advice to his art, taking Manet, Cezanne and other masters of the late-19th-century.
The singer has made many formal painting, but he’s known to do quick sketches of people who ask for his autograph.
The next celebrity has pretty much done everything! And painting is one of his many talents…
James Franco has a lot up his sleeve as he’s a director, writer, actor, poet, and a painter. His artwork has even been shown in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, from Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles to the Tate Modern in London.
When he’s not in front of the camera, Franco directs, teaches, writes, and paints. He has credited his gallery-running grandmother for his artistic gene. She brought him to Asia to meet Japanese artists when he was a kid.
Aragorn from ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ is also a prolific poet, painter, photographer, and musician. He’s even published a number of books and started a publishing house called Perceval Press for all those literary works not suitable for traditional publishers.
His abstract paintings, in which he likes to include fragments of his poetry, have been shown in galleries around the world and are even featured in the movie “A Perfect Murder” that he co-starred in.
‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels’ star, next…
Lucy Liu had a pseudonym that she used when displaying and releasing her artwork. All of her artwork, which includes paintings of erotic imagery, silkscreen prints, and sculptures, were under the name Yu Ling, her Chinese name.
The movie star isn’t eager to make money from her side hustle. She usually donates the profits from her art shows to charity. Lucy Liu was an art student at Beijing Normal University and today, her mixed-media pieces are exhibited in galleries around the world. The actress said her high school art classes inspired her passion. She partnered with LIFEWTR on its campaign to promote art programs in public schools.
David Bowie‘s creativity had no boundaries. In addition to making some of the most influential albums in music history, Bowie was a visual artist who used different mediums, including drawing and painting.
He was known to collect art, having his own art collection which was estimated to be worth over $17 million. His personal paintings were auctioned off in 2016, making over $50 million.
Which cast member from ‘Girls’ do you think is the real-life artist?
Jemima Kirke plays Jessa on HBO’s ‘Girls,’ but before she turned to acting, she got a Bachelor in Fine Arts in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. In fact, she only started acting because her friends needed actors to volunteer for free.
The British-born New Yorker primarily produces portraits. And her good friend Lena Dunham, the creator and star of ‘Girls,’ made her character a painter as well. But Jemima wasn’t so gung-ho about it. In an interview with Huffington Post, she said, “I was a little pissed at that moment, when I saw that painting as a prop. I was like, Lena. Come on, it’s just a little close to home.”
Sir Anthony Hopkins is yet another wonderful actor who has surprised us with his remarkable ability to paint as well. His artwork is so revered that prices for his paintings can range from $4,000 to $80,000.
Hopkins was apparently hesitant to start painting, but his wife urged him when she discovered some of his drawings. So he ended up picking up a paintbrush and never looked back. Today, the actor spends much of his week in his Malibu studio.
Can you guess which action movie star/painter is next?
The last thing you would expect from Rocky is to make lovely paintings on his off-time, right? But Sly Stallone has a soft side – he likes to paint. And his garage has become his very own studio where he creates expressionist works in his garage.
And rumor has it that he sometimes paints in his studio without any clothes on. Perhaps it fuels his creativity. His vivid Pop-influenced paintings have the spirit of Andy Warhol and were featured in an exhibition at St Petersburg’s Russian Museum.
Michelle Pfeiffer has mentioned before that besides acting, painting is her biggest passion. The actress began painting when she was in school but she took a long break when her career started to take off.
But recently Michelle has had a long break from Hollywood due to her return to her first passion of painting. It only proves that true passion never dies.
Next, a former president! Guess who…
George W. Bush
George W. Bush started painting in 2012, and as little as two years later, he hosted an exhibition of his work at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Interestingly, if you start typing his name in Google, the first suggestion is ‘paintings’.
It came to light in 2013 that Bush was an aspiring amateur artist, whose subjects included his terrier and ‘First Dog’ Buster. He’s also painted portraits of Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin. But Bush himself stays modest by saying that he ‘isn’t a great artist’.
KISS fans may appreciate the fact that Paul Stanley is something of a talented painter. It was in 2006 that he made his solo debut as an actual painter, showing the world his collection of portraits, still lives, and abstract art.
Stanley actually designed and created the iconic KISS logo, which remains universally recognized as one of the greatest logos ever created. His artistic and visual input has been seen in his designs of KISS album covers, stages and apparel as well.
The next musician/artist puts his poetry into his artwork…
The Nobel prize-winning songwriter, Bob Dylan, is also a painter as well as an author, film director, actor, and DJ. He has painted album covers for The Band as well for two of his own records. His work can be seen displayed in galleries and museums around the world.
Dylan paints mostly from life, having said, “I’m pretty much interested in people, histories, myth, and portraits; people of all stripes.” He started making art in the 1960s, when he was a young folk singer in Greenwich Village. His expressionistic drawings and paintings include street and interior scenes, landscapes, portraits, and nudes– all as poetic and personal as his music.
Jane Seymour, who many know as Dr. Quinn, is an avid painter in real life. Believe it or not, she sells beginning painter’s kits that come even with an instructional DVD (although DVDs are a little outdated today).
Jane began creating delicate landscapes and still life paintings more than 25 years ago, and her artistic talent goes beyond visual arts. She has also created costumes for the Houston Ballet, which exhibit nationally, and she serves as an official artist at several Olympics.
A hip hop DJ also likes to collect as well as create art…
Kasseem David Dean, also known Swizz Beatz or Mr. Alicia Keys, is best known for his work in the world of hip hop. But the record producer keeps art on his mind. Not only is he an avid art collector, but he creates his own as well.
His work has been compared to that of Basquiat. And similar to some on this list, he also donates the profits from his pieces to charity and has created grants for emerging artists to be able to put on their own shows.
The late Dennis Hopper was a prolific artist. Along with being an actor, he was also a photographer, painter, and sculptor. His art has been displayed in galleries and museums around the world. His love for art started when he was young.
After World War II, his family moved to Kansas City where he attended Saturday art classes at the Kansas City Art Institute. Later on when studying acting at the Actor’s Studio, Hopper started a friendship with actor Vincent Price, whose own passion for art influenced Hopper’s interest. Hopper started working as a painter and a poet as well as a collector of art in the 1960s, particularly keen on Pop Art.
A magician, yes a magician, is also a painter. See his magical artwork, next…
When he’s not producing televised art heists, magician Derren Brown sits down and paints. He is quite an accomplished portrait artist whose muses have included musician Rufus Wainwright and actors Michael Sheen and Judi Dench.
He published his collection of caricatures in 2009, then turning to painting ‘straight’ portraits, which could also be referred to as hyper realistic. His work is in the London- and New York-based Rebecca Hossack Galleries.
It seems like rock bands have their share of talented artists. Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones is a surprisingly talented painter. His unique style shows us a “behind the scenes” look at the real world of rock and roll.
Keith Richards described Ronnie as, “He followed no rules, just like me. Which is why we play guitar. He paints because he loves it, his joy shows in everything he does’.
Our favorite 90s child star became an artist…
The face of the 90s, Macaulay Culkin was once the epitome of the Hollywood child star. But like many child actors, they tend to veer off and do their own thing after the limelight fades away.
Now that he’s rarely seen in movies, Macaulay spends a lot of time making art. In fact, he created his own artist collective called 3MB with his friend Toby Goodshank and Adam Green. The three collaborate together to produce art.
For those who may not know, Marilyn Manson took his pseudonym from the names Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson – two figures he sees as the ultimate and most disturbing contrast of American culture. Other than a musician, Manson has also been an active painter.
Manson began painting watercolors in 1999 and many of his works have been in a number of exhibitions. Manson actually started painting for fun, but he now sells his pieces. His ‘Prince of Darkness’ paintings, have sold for $105,000.
See which actor painted on the side, next…
Tony Curtis was an American icon and artist but more so recognized for his acting career. But he also painted still lifes, landscapes, and portraits. He was influenced by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and especially Henri Matisse.
He’s said: “When I paint, I don’t paint shapes, I paint colors.” Curtis explored his passion for painting throughout his life. And his work is so remarkable that one of his pieces is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The acclaimed singer-songwriter and musician, John Mellencamp, is an accomplished painter, too. Not to mention a collector and long-time activist. Born and raised in Seymour, Indiana, Mellencamp started painting at an early age, having been influenced by his mother who was also an artist.
Mellencamp had formal training at the Arts Student League in New York, where he discovered the work of famous Twentieth-Century Modern artists. But art took a backseat to rock stardom. Later, fellow artist Bob Dylan convinced him to start publicly showing his work.
An actor turned graffiti artist is now hoping to help sick kids with art…
Since the early 1980s, David Arquette has explored with graffiti and street art. Recently, the actor also became a certified Bob Ross painting instructor. Who here remembers Bob Ross? But Arquette also advocates painting as a stress reliever.
Arquette plans to teach sick kids all about his stress reliever. The ‘Scream’ wants to use his new talents to spread some joy and relief to hospitalized children as part of his community work with the Art of Elysium charity.
You probably recognize Helena from the countless magazine ads with her face all over them. Helena is no stranger to the camera. It’s just that normally she’s in front of it. But the supermodel is just as prolific behind the lens.
She tends to capture portraits of celebrities. Her moody photographic work of celebs has included names such as Bono, Liv Tyler, and The Weeknd. They’ve gone on to be sold at auction and appeared in publications like Vogue.
The next actor makes art for album covers and products…
Matthew Gray Gubler
The “Criminal Minds” actor and director is yet another artist with more than one talent. He’s also a fashion model and artist. Not only has he exhibited his artworks around the world, he has turned his portraits into album covers and merchandise.
And unlike many of the other artists on this list, Gubler likes to donate his proceeds and contributed works to charity auctions and causes.
Supermodel and actress Sasha Pivovarova began drawing when she was a child, making illustrations for comic books and fairy tales. Dior hosted a private showing of 40 of her pieces, including large plastic sculptures and her signature paintings of black-outlined faces.
Dior’s Artistic Director Maria Grazia Chiuri sent Sasha Pivovarova down the Spring 2018 runway wearing a T-shirt with the title of Linda Nochlin’s essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”
Timothy Spall who was lead role in the JMW Turner biopic ‘Mr Turner’ and the director instructed him to learn to paint in preparation for the part. Spall’s performance ended up earning him his first major award for a leading role: Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.
Eight of the drawings and sketches he created for the film are now on display at Soho’s Maison Bertaux gallery. It goes to show that talent can be learned and not just something you’re born with!