Cheltenham Art


Author and Artist Andy Lloyd

Andy Lloyd's Celebrity Portraits

Painting portraits of celebrities is a useful way of testing one's ability to gain a likeness.  The famous face is recognisable to all, and creates common ground for judging the skill of the portrait artist.  However, there is also a perceived tackiness to creating celebrity portraits.  This may be because of a weariness of the popular celebrity culture which the Media is currently fixated by.  So painting these pictures is a double-edged sword.  How can you be judged as a portrait artist without creating works that have a common recognition to all, without descending into popular celebrity culture?  If you paint unglamorous works, then they don't sell.  It's a tricky issue.

Glamour is a part of these portraits of Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Through these three paintings you can see how my art has progressed along the course of a couple of years.  All three originals are owned by the same private collector, and are based upon beautiful photographic portraits by Mario Testino. 

 The same collector also owns the third one of the following portraits of Marilyn Monroe, who also makes for glamorous study:

Original paintings of Marilyn Monroe are popular as commissions and also at exhibitions. Her appeal never seems to wane. Again, these paintings are ordered chronologically, with the first one worked from a black and white photo.

This painting of Madonna is a re-working of a famous photograph by Mario Testino.  An author of a book devoted to 'Madonna in Art' asked for it to be included, which I was very keen on initially.  Until I saw the contract.  This is one of those situations where I don't really fully understand the finer points of copyright law. My painting is original, and I've altered the background significantly.  However, I wouldn't want to get into a whole bunch of trouble for working from a photo by a current photographer, which was then used to make money for a publisher.  The contract offered left me high and dry if trading in Madonna's image contradicted any given laws here on in the U.S..  So this painting didn't appear in the book.

I actually sent the original to Madonna at her home in nearby Wiltshire.  For several years I heard nothing about what she did with the painting.  But then I was contacted by someone who lives in Wiltshire to say that the painting re-surfaced in the local community (after Madonna moved away from the area), and that the painting is safe and well, and hanging on the lady's wall.

Here are four paintings I've completed of Johnny Depp.  

He's a fascinating man, and is never dull to paint!  These first two are in acrylic:

The next painting of Johhny Depp is a watercolour, and is a bit more experimental. 

The second (my most recent of the set) is in acrylic, and is a more traditional portrait:

Kate Moss was once quite close to Johnny Depp, I believe, and I have painted her a couple of times too. She owns a house in the Cotswolds somewhere near here. 

The first painting is in acrylic, the second in watercolour.

I was particularly pleased with the first Kate Moss portrait. It shows off another interest I have to my work, and that is how to capture the camera's 'shallow depth of field' effect in a painting: 

Painting celebrities can draw people's attention to your art display in a dramatic way.  We all have a remarkable ability to perceive the most intricate detail in a person's face, and a portrait will often not quite capture the exact likeness (I seem to like the challenge).  So people will look at a painting and wonder if it's of "'so-and-so', you know, that film-star". 


These are of the actresses Elizabeth Taylor,

Natascha McElhone

and Mila Jovovich:


Just to show that I don't always paint the ladies, here are three actors, Jeff Goldblum,

Keanu Reeves

and Owen Wilson.

  All three are in watercolour, painted at a time when I was first experimenting with the medium:

I went through a phase of painting lots of models, and during that period I was invited to paint two celebrated American female wrestlers. 

 It was not quite my normal subject matter, but the two paintings proved very popular indeed. These two paintings are of Torrie Wilson (above) and Candice Michelle:

These next two paintings are of a fabulous model from Spain called Estel Rovira.  She appears in the La Redoute catalogue modelling clothes for the Laura clement label. 

I think she is a wonderful subject for portraiture.  Perhaps surprisingly, her image hardly appears on the Internet; and from the limited, rather brusque correspondence I received from her management agency in new York, it seems as though there is a strict enforcement of copyright around photographs of Estel. 

Of course, my work is original art, so does not come under the copyright laws to do with photographic images.  As such, it is likely that these are the only on-line pictures of Estel:

It's fair to say that I've developed quite an affinity for the look of this particular model, and certainly don't get bored painting her portrait!  This is important, because to really get a portrait to look like something special, a lot of pains-taking work is required. 

I work either from colour photographs or black and white photos.  Here are two examples of paintings created from black and white photos.  The first features Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner in the film 'The Killers' from 1946.  This is an attempt at 'Film Noir' art in the style, perhaps, of Jack Vettriano.

The second painting  is of Carly Turnbull.

Here are a few male celebrity models, beginning with Frank Sinatra. 

and Elvis have become standard fayre for artists:

Perhaps less popular as a subject are politicians. Here's Barack Obama ,

and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who I rather bravely exhibited in 2009 at the height of the credit crisis:


Some more male portraits, this time of football star David Beckham (in acrylic)

and of the heir to the British throne, Prince William (in watercolour):


Written by Andy Lloyd,

author of 'The Dark Star' (2005), 'Ezekiel One' (2009), 'The Followers of Horus' (2010) and 'Darker Stars' (2019)

Published by Timeless Voyager Press