Home Interior Design Do actors make good painters? Here Are 9 Hollywood Celebrities Who Turned To Art, Ranked

Do actors make good painters? Here Are 9 Hollywood Celebrities Who Turned To Art, Ranked

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Let’s face it: it’s hard to take the actor who paints seriously. Actors are free to indulge in music, politics, activism and entrepreneurship, but art? It’s serious business that not everyone who enters comes out unscathed.

Not that it’s stopped those in the brave acting profession from getting dirty in front of the easel, with often surprising results. Some have landed exhibitions in museums, others have sold pieces for six-figure sums, and still others have returned works of breathtaking quality. True creativity, it seems, cannot be suppressed.

So, are there any actors who are good painters? Here, we judge the artistic creations of nine high profile actors, ranking them from best to worst.

1. Lucy Liu

Lucy Liu, you are the bridge. Courtesy of the artist.

The paint-splattered figure of Lucy Liu is the first thing that greets visitors website. In an autoplaying video, she walks up to the camera and quickly lays a swipe of salmon egg orange on the screen, then follows it up with black punctuation marks.

The message is clear: Liu may be known for her acting role, but she also considers herself an artist. And for good reason, Liu has organized a gallery exhibition almost every year since the beginning of the 90s and landed an exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore in 2019. Her practice spans photography (which she began in high school), calligraphy, bold expressionist painting and collage, often using objects found on the street.

2. Jim Carrey

Jim Carey, Electric Jesus.  Courtesy of Jim Carey.

Jim Carey, Electric Jesus. Courtesy of Jim Carrey.

Throughout Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency, Carrey offered a steady drip of satirical cartoons: Trump drinking bleach, Trump dodging the draft, Trump getting perverted with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Brash in color and content, the influence by R. Crumb was evident in the line work and Carrey received considerable praise/backlash on social media.

In 2020, the Canadian announced that he was leaving his cartoon phases and returning to a painting practice started in childhood – he also carves. Carrey tends to paint flowery portraits that use color for shading and abstracts, the type one might pass on the promenade in Venice.

3. Viggo Mortensen

After Darkly Noon (2002) and Self Portrait April (1999-2002) by Viggo Mortensen.  Courtesy of Frostyland and the artist.

At Viggo Mortensen’s dark afternoon (2002) and April Self-Portrait (1999-2002). Courtesy of Frostyland and the artist.

According to Mortensen, being an artist is (heavy sigh) “just a way of life”. Since stumbling unexpectedly into film fame, he’s channeled the luxury of time and money into lifelong artistic endeavors – starting a small publishing house Perceval Press in 2002 with other artists. Mortensen paintings are serious and multi-layered, often incorporating elements of his poetry and photography that blend into abstraction.

4. Stone of Sharon

Stone endured a traumatic pandemic. Her response was to take up painting, which she did with furious abandon. It started with a paint by numbers setbut given enough time during those barren months of lockdown, it quickly turned into serious practice with a dedicated in-house studio.

In painting, Stone says she has found herself, her heart and her center. His initial output was largely abstract, works of layered color and cut-out shapes, but this style evolved and formed the basis of ‘Shedding’, his first exhibition which was presented at Galerie Allouche in 2023.

5.Anthony Hopkins

Mr Anthony Hopkins, Abas (left) and Midas (right) (2010). Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

Hopkins may identify as a quiet Welshman, but his paintings are anything but quiet. Randomly mixing ink, oil and acrylic, Hopkins creates intense and heavily textured paintings. The face is a recurring subject. There are multicolored questioning faces, phantom mask faces, disjointed bony faces. Some have called his style surreal. Although Hopkins’ paintings achieved moderate success at auction, its 2022 collection of 1,000 NFTs inspired by his best-known film roles was an even bigger hit, selling out in seven minutes, an OpenSea record.

6. Pierce Brosnan

Brosnan’s first ambition was to be a painter. And the career seemed entirely possible before he spontaneously attended an acting workshop in his early twenties: he had graduated from St. Martin’s School of Art and was working in a studio in south London. Brosnan’s paintings are an amalgamation of great 20th-century painters – there’s Kandinsky in his abstract backgrounds, something Picasso in his thick outlines, and Matisse in his balance of color. When Brosnan sells, he usually does so for charity, with his portrayal of Bob Dylan elevating $1.4 million for AIDS research in 2018.

7. Sylvester Stallone


Sylvester Stallone, Untitled (Michael Jackson) (2010). Photo courtesy of Galerie Gmurzynska

For Stallone, there is a guiding line between painting and acting. Often, he paints his characters before writing a script. “Painting is where I feel close to a naked truth,” he said. Artnet News in 2021. And no, a whimsical Stallone alter-ego doesn’t take over; it’s a fight with the canvas and rest assured he knows how to work a palette knife. Stallone was friends with Warhol in the 70s, but his paintings owe more to Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat with a style that bleeds from the frenetic machismo of the 80s. Naturally.

8.James Franco

James Franco, big squirrel (2013).

Franco really wants the art world to take him seriously – he once suffered a Jerry Saltz interview on the subject. He may have MFAs from NYU and RISD, been shown Pace and Gagosian, but the self-proclaimed Renaissance man still demands respect. He received a particularly sharp (and deserved) backlash for reconstruct “Untitled Film Stills” by Cindy Sherman in 2014, but the references in many of his own paintings are hardly less subtle: his works from the early 2010s appear as hyperactive Basquiats crossed with Cy Twombly. More original was his series of overweight animals.

9. Johnny Depp

During the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial, “Depp painting” was trending on Google with fans (or naysayers) discovering that Hollywood’s bad boy (or angel) had painterly ambitions. Depp is a celebrity who paints other celebrities. This is not a meta critique of fame; he just paints his friends and his friends have well-known faces. His recent paintings of Bob Marley, Heath Ledger et al. in “Friends & Heroes II” in London Fine Arts Castle have the aesthetics of photos edited on the first mobile phones. Nonetheless, Depp sold $3.5 million worth of prints.

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