There’s a reason Hollywood celebrities are celebrities—they’re talented as all get out. It turns out that more than a few of our favorite actors and musicians also have some special hidden talents—they’re visual artists! Stars like Tony Bennet and Lucy Liu have secret art careers while others like James Franco dabble in the craft for charity. If there’s one thing all these stars have in common it’s that we’re pretty likely to see them on a red carpet and a gallery wall. What until you see which former Beatle is also a prolific painter.
Swizz Beats Is More Than a Hip-Hop Mogul
Kasseem Dean, better known by his stage name Swizz Beats, has worked with some of the top talent in the hip-hop world. Most recently, he released a single called “Everyday Birthday” that features rap legend Ludacris and Rihanna’s ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. Beats is married to the lovely and wildly talented Alicia Keys, cementing his status as hip-hop royalty (that is if anyone beyond Beyonce and Jay-Z could take the crown). Swizz Beats isn’t just a wildly talented hip-hop mogul though—he’s a visual artist who loves to paint. In 2017, Swizz curated a show with his art collection that includes work from Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
George W. Bush Takes a Note From Rembrandt
George W. Bush was a rather controversial president for his conservative values. Remember all those Rock Against Bush CD’s tossed around at Warped Tour? Since leaving the White House, we haven’t heard a whole lot about Bush, but it’s almost certain that he’s managed to escape the stress of being president by picking up some relaxing hobbies. George Bush is actually a really great oil painter and since he left office, he’s been honing his artistic skills. In early 2017, he was back in the spotlight to promote a book of his paintings titled “Portraits of Courage.” Not surprisingly, a self-portrait and a portrait of his father are included.
This Pirate Gets His Kicks By Painting
You may know Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow from the Disney hit Pirates of the Caribbean. Maybe you recognize him as Willy Wonka from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The actor is massively famous and regularly finds his way into the tabloids for things like his highly publicized divorce from Amber Heard and sometimes-erratic behavior. Sometimes he’s simply recognized for his acting talent. What he’s almost never recognized for is the fact that he’s a legitimately great painter. Depp paints portraits of his famous friends including Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and Keith Richards. Who would have thought?
Lucy Liu Paints With a Purpose
Lucy Liu has had an extensive career in Hollywood. The actress’ resume is packed to the gills with credits—from starring in blockbuster hits like Kill Bill and Charlie’s Angels to playing Jessica Tang in the 10-episode series Southland. Lucy Liu has had just about every type of role an actress can have. She even voiced the beloved Tinkerbell is some Disney flicks. Though Liu is a prolific actress, she also happens to be a pretty amazing painter. Liu paints under the pseudonym Yu Ling and donates profits of her work to UNICEF. Painting is truly a charitable passion project for the actress.
Paulie Pennino was an integral part of the Rocky film series, and the actor who played him is anything but small-time. Burt Young has appeared on-screen over 200 times and at one point he was even a professional boxer. That doesn’t mean Young doesn’t have a soft, creative side though. It turns out that Young has had a passion for painting since he was 12 years old and even won art supplies from a contest sponsored by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department. The actor retired from show business and focused his efforts completely on painting. He’s found great success and his work has been shown in galleries across the world. Burt isn’t the only Rocky star who is an amazing visual artist either.
Can You Believe Jim Carrey Is A Talented Painter?
Jim Carrey is a funny man—the comedic actor truly gave life to his ridiculous starring roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask. He’s also been known to throw around some deep existential questions that Hollywood reporters are in no way prepared to answer. It’s just part of his charm (he’s a method actor through and through). Though Carrey is best known for making us laugh, it turns out the actor is also an amazing painter. In an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Carrey gave viewers a tour of his art studio and we got a glimpse of some of the far-out paintings he’s been working on.
James Franco Paints For Fun
There’s no denying that James Franco is wildly creative. The actor, who got his start on the short-lived TV show Freaks and Geeks has dabbled in just about every type of creative career you can have: acing, writing, teaching and learning (he’s studied at UCLA, Yale, NYU, RISD, and Columbia to name a few). Franco is known for the zany characters he depicts like rapper Alien from the dark comedy Spring Breakers and Tommy Wiseau in the biopic The Disaster Artist. What he isn’t known for are his painting skills. Franco has painted everything from murals to a very nude Seth Rogen. Yup, he painted his pal Seth in the nude. He also paints pets for charity!
Pierce Brosnan Is a Trained Illustrator
Pierce Brosnan played one of the most iconic action heroes, James Bond. The actor’s decades-long career includes six years of James Bond movies, TV shows, voice work, and a brand new film called The Foreigner. Brosnan may be a successful actor, but acting was actually his plan B. Brosnan is a highly-trained commercial artist who originally wanted to be an illustrator. He began training to become an illustrator when he was just 16 years old, but his acting career ended up taking off in ’82 after a sting in the TV series Remington Steele. Currently, Brosnan paints for charity.
Hannibal the Cannibal Can Paint Too
Anthony Hopkins may have won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in the 1992 thriller The Silence of the Lambs, but his talents aren’t just limited to acting. Hopkins is a fantastic painter. He primarily paints abstract works inspired by Picasso. This shouldn’t be surprising considering Hopkins actually played Pablo in the 1996 drama Surviving Picasso. Perhaps the film gave him more than just a little inspiration because the actor isn’t just a hobbyist. In 2016, Hopkins paintings were put on display in a permanent exhibition at the Jeff Mitchum Galleries on the Las Vegas Strip. The work hangs inside the Bellagio and the MGM Grand.
All You Need Is Love…And Art
Paul McCartney is one of the most famous musicians on the planet. The former Beatle not only pioneered rock and roll, but he’s had an expansive solo career. Much like his alleged arch-nemesis Yoko Ono, who is credited with breaking up the Beatles, McCartney is a prolific visual artist. The musician has been painting since the early ’80s and has hosted art exhibitions in his hometown of Liverpool. He managed to keep his art skill a secret for 15 years, but eventually came clean and let the world enjoy the fruits of his labor—and boy, did the world enjoy it!
Starman Was Also a Painter and Sculptor
David Bowie was a legendary ground-breaking musician whose androgynous style and larger-than-life show production led him to become one of the most iconic solo artists on the planet. It shouldn’t be surprising that the guy behind Ziggy Stardust was massively creative. Bowie’s visuals were some of the most creative and well-known parts of his live shows and albums. Who hasn’t seen his iconic lightning bolt face makeup? It turns out he had a knack for awesome visuals because he was actually a visual artist and sculptor. Bowie’s work has been shown all over the world and he’s even authored articles in Modern Painter Magazine.
Steven Tyler Paints Skulls As a Symbol Of Defiance
Steven Tyler, the wild Aerosmith frontman, has had a long music career. The singer’s band has racked up numerous awards including a number of MTV Video Music Awards, Grammys and Billboard Music Awards. With infectious hits like “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” it’s not really shocking that Tyler has managed to stay on the stage for decades—including an iconic performance at the 33rd Grammy’s. What most of us don’t know is that Steven Tyler is also a visual artist. He’s been painting for years and includes rock ‘n’ roll imagery like guitars and skull into most of his work.
Charles, Prince Of Wales, Painter
Prince Charles has always been royalty. He was born at Buckingham Palace and was the first grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Prince Charles famously married Princess Diana in 1981 and had an even more famous divorce in 1996 after a cheating scandal (she sadly passed away in a car-crash in 2005).
Despite Charles’ clear royal responsibilities, he also founded the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts in 2002. Why are the arts so important to him? He happens to be an accomplished watercolor painter and has sold his works and published a number of books on the subject.
Tony Bennett Does It All
Long before Tony Bennett pulled in 19 Grammy Awards or collaborated with Lady Gaga, he wanted to be a painter. What most fans don’t know is that Bennett actually is a successful painter, he just goes by his real name Anthony Benedetto rather than his stage name. Bennett’s primary mediums are watercolor and oil paint, but he also sketches. His work has been hung in galleries across the world and he was even the official artist for the Kentucky Derby in 2001 (who knew they had an official artist?). Bennett was also commissioned by the United Nations to create two paintings. Art and music? What can’t Tony Bennett do?
Joni Mitchell Creates Her Own Album Artwork
Joni Mitchell is regarded by Rolling Stone as “one of the greatest songwriters ever.” Her politically-charged folk rock defined a generation, and the singer-songwriter truly worked her way up to international stardom. She started singing in small Canadian nightclubs and moved to the U.S. with dreams of making it. Mitchell isn’t just a profound songwriter. She’s a visual artist whose skills have seeped into every facet of her music work. Mitchell creates her own album artwork. The artist even describes herself as a “painter derailed by circumstance.” That’s right—before she ever picked up a guitar, she wanted to be an artist.
Jane Seymour’s Therapeutic Hobby
Like the artistically-inclined Pierce Brosnan, Jane Seymour is another Bond talent who happens to have a knack for visual art. The actress is best known for her performance in 1973’s James Bond flick Live and Let Die. Most recently, she played the hysterical matriarch Pussy in Wedding Crashers alongside Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Seymour isn’t just an actress—she’s an accomplished painter and sculptor. To her, painting is therapeutic and she likes to focus on images that impact her emotions and create a real memory. “Once I start [painting] it’s impossible to stop; I get lost in the process and go into another world,” she said.
For Rosie, Paint Is Political
Rosie O’Donnell doesn’t just cause a stir with her comedy (the comedienne famously bashes president Donald Trump every chance she gets). O’Donnell is a political painter and says she began painting after 9/11. Recently, the funny woman caused major controversy when she put Anti-Israel paintings in the store section of her personal website. The paintings were a critique about the way Israel handles conflict over the Gaza strip—and O’Donnell painted these images herself. One of the most controversial was an image of a dead child, that she started painted the day Israel began bombing Gaza. O’Donnell had since removed the paintings from her website and deleted her explanation of them on Twitter.
Sylvester Stallone’s Rothko-Inspired Art
There’s something about Rocky actors and painting—and Sylvester Stallone is proof. The actor famously portrayed Rocky Balboa in the 1976 hit Rocky. After roles in The Expendables, Rambo, and Cliffhanger, it’s clear that Stallone had established himself as an action hero legend. What you don’t know is that Stallone is a whole lot more than just an action hero. Though he’s nabbed a number of roles across all genres (including a cameo on NBC hit drama This Is Us) Stallone is an amazing visual artist. Stallone tends to focus his work on mostly abstract paintings and has been honing in on his craft for decades.
George Clinton’s Psychedelic Artwork
George Clinton is a louder-than-life personality. The singer and songwriter rose to fame for his work with Parliament-Funkadelic. The band is largely credited for creating a specific brand of funk called P-Funk that rose to popularity with Clinton’s music in the ’70s and ’80s. Clinton is regarded as one funk’s heroes and his legacy rests alongside that of James Brown and Sly Stone. He even has a coveted spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It turns out making music isn’t Clinton’s only talent. The famous funk man is also an accomplished visual artist. His psychedelic paintings were even featured in a 2009 issue of SPIN.
Viggo Mortensen’s Photography Appears In His Films
Viggo Mortensen made his film debut in 1985 when he played a young Amish farmer in Peter Weir’s Witness. Since then, Mortensen has established himself as an action hero, though his catalog spans greatly beyond one specific genre. Mortensen can do it all—from his harrowing performance in The Road to taking on an iconic science fiction character in Lord of the Rings. It also so happens that Mortensen’s talents reach well beyond just acting. Mortensen is a painter and photographer. His work has actually been featured in one of his own films. A Perfect Murder displays one of his original paintings.
Stevie Nicks defined a generation with her music. The prolific singer and solo artist rose to fame for her work in Fleetwood Mac. The band sold over 100 million records worldwide and won a number of Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for their 1978 album Rumors. Nicks isn’t just an iconic musician and actor (she had a role in American Horror Story a couple of years ago). Nicks has been quietly cultivating a career in art ever since her best friend was diagnosed with leukemia in the ’80s. By the 1990s, Nicks was being recognized for both her art and her music.