Celebs

Celebs moonlighting as painters don't always deserve the brush-off

Nov. 29, 2013 at 1:08 PM ET

Acting and being a rock star are full-time jobs, but that doesn't stop some celebrities from spreading their showbiz talents across other canvases — literally. From Sylvester Stallone to Jane Seymour, celebs love to paint. But are they any good?

Depends on who you ask. "Usually, celebrities make bad paintings insofar as they are amateurish in terms of color, surface, skill-set, subject-matter,” writes New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz in an email. "Most of it is either kitsch or ersatz art.”

Okay, so these five celebs-turned-artists may never rise to the level of Andy Warhol (whose silkscreen of Farrah Fawcett has sparked a legal tussle between Ryan O'Neal and the University of Texas), but they've got some pretty interesting artwork to share (especially to our untrained eyes). See if you think they should give up their day jobs:

Rosie O'Donnell and one of her paintings at the 2002 GLAAD OUTAuction in New York City.
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Rosie O'Donnell and one of her paintings at the 2002 GLAAD OUTAuction in New York City.

Rosie O’Donnell
The comedian-turned-talk-show host began creating collages and paintings after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and has sold her work on EBay and Etsy for charity. She’s also had gallery shows and, according to People magazine, has created over 1,000 works. “Every time I read a newspaper, I couldn’t throw it out if there was an image that I was so moved or stunned by,” she told the magazine in 2003. “I don’t even know if people are going to like them.”

Sylvester Stallone and his "Ties" work, which was featured at the art exhibition "Sylvester Stallone Painting From 1975 Until Today" at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg exhibit.
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Sylvester Stallone and his "Ties" work, which was featured at the art exhibition "Sylvester Stallone Painting From 1975 Until Today" at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg exhibit.

Sylvester Stallone
Stallone’s abstract expressionist paintings include fellow celebrities like Michael Jackson and himself as Rocky; an exhibition of his work is currently on display in St. Petersburg, Russia until Jan. 13. “I’m a much better painter than an actor,” he told CBC News. “It’s much more personal and I’m allowed to do just what I want to do.”

Bob Dylan and his "Vista From Balcony" work, which was shown in 2010 for the first time in London at the "Bob Dylan on Canvas Exhibition."
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Bob Dylan and his "Vista From Balcony" work, which was shown in 2010 for the first time in London at the "Bob Dylan on Canvas Exhibition."

Bob Dylan
For six years Dylan has had a “Drawn Blank” series of artwork for sale as limited editions and in a book on BobDylanArt.com. He’s also been the subject of numerous gallery shows, including a controversial one in 2011 where his “Asia Series” was accused of merely being paintings of widely-available photographs that were not taken by the musician. A series of pastel portraits went on display in London’s National Portrait Gallery in August, and will remain there until January, 2014. “I paint for individuals,” he told interviewer John Elderfield in 2011, “almost like a tailor makes a suit for somebody…. You want the general public to respect you, but they don’t need to necessarily be fans.”

Jane Seymour and one of her rose paintings during a new gallery opening in 2005 in Los Angeles.
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Jane Seymour and one of her rose paintings during a new gallery opening in 2005 in Los Angeles.

Jane Seymour
For the past 18 years, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” star Seymour’s watercolors, oils, pastels and bronze sculptures have earned her multiple gallery exhibitions, including one at West Hollywood’s Gallerie Sparta in October. She says she always travels with a set of watercolor paints, and told Malibu's SunSentinel in July, “I started out in watercolor and it became an incredible Zen experience for me. I was able to take myself out of the painful circumstances (of divorce) I was in and really go to a place where I found a great deal of happiness and peace and serenity.”

Tony Bennett and his portrait of Duke Ellington, just one of his works found at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The painting was donated by Bennett to mark the 110th anniversary of Ellington's birth.
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Tony Bennett and his portrait of Duke Ellington, just one of his works found at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The painting was donated by Bennett to mark the 110th anniversary of Ellington's birth.

Tony Bennett
An artist first, a legendary crooner second, Bennett has been painting since the age of five, when he created chalk drawings on the sidewalks of his Queens neighborhood. He paints every day, and has had his work commissioned by the United Nations twice; three of his originals are in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. “Painting is really a magic trick, an illusion,” he told the Wall Street Journal in October. “What a painter leaves out often is as important as what is added.”

But no matter how successful a celebrity may be with his or her artwork, Saltz is unlikely to be swayed. “Art takes everything you have every second of the day; for artists there is only art — nothing else,” he writes. “It is very hard, if not impossible, to be several things at once and be great at all of them.”

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