Star Painters: 5 Celebrities Who Are Also Visual Artists

Stars like Anthony Hopkins and Joni Mitchell not only perform, but also create stunning works of art in their spare time. 

As our past features have explored, many celebrities dabble in hobbies beyond their careers as performers. In fact, there are quite a few famous stars who paint during their spare time, and some of them have even had their very own solo exhibitions. Some use visual art as an extension of their respective crafts, while others simply relish in the joy of painting; either way, these celebrities show us that they’re truly multi-faceted artists: 

READ ALSO: Unpredictable Pastimes: 6 Of The Most Unexpected And Unique Celebrity Hobbies

Sylvester Stallone

“I think I’m a much better painter than an actor,” shared Sylvester Stallone in an official statement, but many people will probably agree that he’s great at both. The star of the popular Rocky and Rambo movies isn’t just an actor, producer, and writer; he also happens to be quite the gifted painter.

Sylvester Stallone with his work “The Bum I”/Photo via Instagram @stalloneartwork
Sylvester Stallone with his work “The Bum I”/Photo via Instagram @stalloneartwork

In fact, the star has been painting for about 50 years, according to Artsy, citing artists like  Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol as inspirations. The actor even uses painting as a way of conceptualizing his memorable characters, as it helps him explore their psyche. 

“Finding Rocky”; a piece that Stallone painted before writing the script of the hit Rocky movie/Photo via Instagram @stalloneartwork
“Finding Rocky”; a piece that Stallone painted before writing the script of the hit Rocky movie/Photo via Instagram @stalloneartwork

“It’s [painting] much more personal and I’m allowed to just do what I want to do. Quite often in acting you have to play a certain part, you cannot speak as much as you want to speak,” Stallone once said

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan isn’t just the Irish actor who cemented his place in cinema history through the James Bond movies, Mamma Mia!, and The Thomas Crown Affair, among others, but he’s also a prolific artist who has been painting since he was a child. He’s produced hundreds of paintings, and even launched his first solo exhibition back in May 2023, So Many Dreams

Pierce Brosnan posing in front of his works for his solo exhibition, “So Many Dreams”/Photo by Keely Shaye Brosnan via Instagram @piercebrosnanofficial

Brosnan actually wanted to become an artist from the very beginning, and for a short while, he worked as a commercial illustrator after leaving school at 16. Painting also became a way of coping with the grief he experienced after losing his first wife, actress Cassandra Harris, to a battle with cancer in the 1990s. 

Brosnan’s “Fiji” (1996, acrylic on canvas)/Photo via Instagram @piercebrosnanofficial
Brosnan’s “Fiji” (1996, acrylic on canvas)/Photo via Instagram @piercebrosnanofficial

Today, art continues to be a significant part of Brosnan’s life, and the actor shows no signs of stopping with frequent updates on his Instagram showing some of his latest works. He cites artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky as major influences, evident in his vibrant and eclectic style. 

Anthony Hopkins

Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins also engages in plenty of painting during his spare time, with most of his works in permanent and exclusive display at the Harte International Galleries in Lahaina, Maui. Hopkins is more of an “art for art’s sake” creative, who describes his process as a spontaneous one without much hidden meanings. 

Anthony Hopkins in his art studio/Photo via Instagram @anthonyhopkins
Anthony Hopkins in his art studio/Photo via Instagram @anthonyhopkins

“I just paint. I discover as I go along and I don’t analyze, I just go for it,” he explained in a statement for his official art website. Many of his works feature soulful gazes, representative of his belief in the eyes being windows to the soul. 

“The face is not important. It’s the eyes that are the most haunting part of one’s soul. It’s very primitive,” he shared in his statement. “It has to be childish because I am a child. I’ve discovered lately that I enjoy all that is supposedly wrong with me. I used to take myself so seriously, but now I don’t. I allow myself to revel in the exhilarating nature of life.”

Anthony Hopkins’ “Ballet on the Moon”/Photo via Instagram @anthonyhopkins
Anthony Hopkins’ “Ballet on the Moon”/Photo via Instagram @anthonyhopkins

Hopkins’ vibrant, playful, and wonderfully surreal works strongly showcase his artistic ethos. and the actor also enjoys posting updates on his paintings in his Instagram (when he’s not giving another impressive, award-winning performance in a captivating film). 

Bob Dylan 

Though Bob Dylan became an international sensation through his moving songwriting (which made him the first musician to win a Nobel Prize in Literature) and melodies, his artistic prowess extends far beyond the realm of music. Dylan is also a skilled filmmaker, sculptor, and visual artist—proving that someone can, in fact, do it all.

Bob Dylan working on his ironwork sculpture/Photo from the Bob Dylan website 
Bob Dylan working on his ironwork sculpture/Photo from the Bob Dylan website 

The artist held his first solo exhibition in 2019 in the Modern Art Museum Shanghai, Retrospectrum. Thousands of visitors came to see his works within the first three months of the exhibit’s opening, according to his official website

The musician creates cinematic, atmospheric paintings that capture the spirit of America, as well as intriguing ironwork sculptures inspired by his childhood surrounded by the craft. 

Dylan’s “Manhattanhenge” (2020)/Photo from the Bob Dylan website
Dylan’s “Manhattanhenge” (2020)/Photo from the Bob Dylan website

On Dylan’s paintings, MTV producer and rock critic Bill Flanagan said: “The works conjure a feeling of transience, a journey from the metropolis to the natural world via road, bridge, rail and air. Together they present a panoramic vision of the American landscape from Dylan’s particular perspective. Dylan’s artwork invites the viewer to participate in a trip from city to country, night time to daytime, around the clock and the calendar.”

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell isn’t just a great songwriter and multi-instrumentalist—her paintings are beautiful too, though there’s not a lot of literature on them. Chances are, many of her fans have probably seen them at least once, as they’ve graced her album covers multiple times. These include hits like 1994’s Turbulent Indigo and 2000’s Both Sides Now, though she’s been featuring her illustrations and paintings in even older albums. 

Joni Mitchell in 2023/Photo from Library of Congress Life via Wikimedia Commons
Joni Mitchell in 2023/Photo from Library of Congress Life via Wikimedia Commons

Thankfully, representatives have gathered many of Mitchell’s artworks through the years, archiving them in an official website for viewers to look through. Her colors, lines, and forms are remarkable, and the beauty of her self-portraits speak for themselves. Mitchell actually planned on pursuing art full-time, as she was once an art student in 1960s Canada, reports Lindsay Zoladz for The New York Times

Joni Mitchell’s self-portrait featured in her 2000 album, “Both Sides Now”/Photo from the Amazon website
Joni Mitchell’s self-portrait featured in her 2000 album, “Both Sides Now”/Photo from the Amazon website

In a 1986 BBC feature, Mitchell stated: “In solitude, what it [painting] does is it clears the head.” Then in a 2018 CBC interview, discussed her deep attachment to the craft: “Music, you know, I have the sense to eat and sleep, but painting is really obsessive-compulsive.”

Banner photo from the Amazon website

Order your print copy of this month's LIFESTYLE ASIA Magazine:
Download this month's LIFESTYLE ASIA digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]