BY CARA VAN RHYN / If not talented enough, some of our most-loved celebrities are also harbouring amazing talent as visual artists. It makes sense that actors and musicians who have so much creativity bubbling below the surface need another medium to express themselves. But who would have thought that Marilyn Manson was a master of watercolours or that Rocky Balboa has an eye for composition?
Lucy Liu

Best known for kicking ass in Kill Bill and making up one-third of Charlie’s Angels, Lucy Liu is equally adept with a paintbrush as she is with a pair of nunchucks. One of her recent works, Seventy Two, is comprised of, well, seventy-two ink paintings that symbolise the Kabbalistic system of the 72 Names of God, derived from the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. It is believed that, when arranged in a grid like this, the paintings function as a spiritual tool used to manifest one’s hopes and dreams. You can see more of her work on her website.

David Bowie
The late, great David Bowie was not just a talented musician and lyricist, but he also created a huge array of paintings and sketches. His style was largely influenced by German Expressionism and artists such as Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, and David Bomberg. This German influence grew more intense when Bowie and Iggy Pop moved to Berlin in 1976. While he is by no means as much a master of the canvas as he is the stage, his artwork shows his immense passion.

Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey is best-known for being a comic genius in films such as Bruce Almighty, Dumb and Dumber, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but behind his iconic smile, he has dealt with a major depressive disorder for most of his life. To some, it may seem absurd that such a popular actor whose films average $100 million could be depressed. But it’s important to remember that even celebrities who appear to have it all can fall victim to mental illness. Along with bouts of depressive episodes, the star also suffered from drug and alcohol addiction. Carrey battled against his depression by throwing himself into painting. In a short video titled I Needed Color, Carrey talks about how painting became an important part of his life, and how ‘paintings were everywhere, they became part of the furniture.’

Sir Anthony Hopkins
Legendary actor Anthony Hopkins is not only talented at acting, directing, composing and screenwriting, but also painting. While he refers to himself as ‘a shy artist’, his work is anything but. With bright colours and daring compositions his work is expressive and bold. His wife Stella, who is an art dealer, finally convinced him in 2005 to pursue his dream of painting. His first exhibition sold over 100 of his works to raise money for the Born to Read Literacy Foundation. Hopkins’ work looks to German painters such as Emil Nolde, and Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

Sylvester Stallone
Stallone has come a long way since playing iconic boxer Rocky Balboa… he’s swapped out the gloves for a paintbrush as he explores his passion for expressionist art. His love of painting started when he was a young boy, but he created most of his work from 1975 onwards, during his rise as an actor. Stallone has been an avid art collector and has owned works by Claude Monet, Anselm Kiefer, and Francis Bacon. Some of his works were bought by private collectors and friends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Travolta. Stallone jokingly says they bought his works ‘before they knew better.’ One of his most prized works, On Finding Rocky, was created during his early acting years working on the Rocky movies, and he refuses to sell it for any price.

Viggo Mortensen
Best-known for his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Viggo Mortensen has also been quietly pursuing an artistic career path. He is, in fact, the founder of Perceval Press, a small publishing company where Mortensen can explore his other talents: poetry, photography, and music. His artworks are often collages on painted canvas that include poetry and fragments of his photography. His photography is often manipulated, scratched and written on too.

Viggo Mortensen, Kormak, 2001

Viggo Mortensen, Kormak in New York, 2001

Marilyn Manson
Many people would be surprised to find out that Marilyn Manson, the goth king of dark metal music, is also a watercolour artist. He started painting around 1995, and while he first started painting for the fun of it, he now sells and exhibits his work in galleries around the world. His colourful yet eerie watercolours almost appear to be self-portraits with slender, pale figures, heavy makeup and his iconic silver eye. – Cara van Rhyn 

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