Sunday 29 April 2012

Paintings from the movies

I've just spent a wonderful Sunday watching Laura, the classic film noir starring Gene Tierney. The film is part of the matinee classics being shown on the big screen at the Cornerhouse, and it was great to see it as it would have first been viewed all those years ago at it's premier in 1944.

The story revolves around the murder of beautiful advertising executive Laura Hunt (Tierney) who soon becomes the infactuation of detective Mark Macpherson (Dana Andrews) as he falls in love with her stunning portrait and learns her story.

The portait in question is quite beautiful and has it's own interesting story to tell;

The first version of the picture was painted by the wife the of the original director, Mamoulian, but when Otto Preminger took over as the film's director he found the painting to his dislike. He wanted mystery and captivation, but instead thought the portrait was inflattering, flat and boring. 

To remedy this he sent Tierney off to studio photographer Frank Polony and had her picture taken. The best shot was enlarged to a portait size and the photo was then painted over with oils to give it the quality of an original painting. In this way Premigner felt he had captured the allure and power the painting needed to draw the audience in and be believable as the object of Macpherson's desire.

But what intrigues me perhaps more is what happend to this wonderful object after the film had wrapped? The IMDB website states that the painting can be seen in two other films; On the Riviera 1951, starring Danny Kaye and, Woman's World 1954 starring Clifton Webb who also starred in Laura.

But where is it now? Indeed the painting of Laura is not the only art from a movie which has made me ask this question; There have been numerous works of art created just for films that seem to have disappeared into the great abyss, some more classical than others but in my opinion just as wonderful, not only for their asthetics but also because of the history they hold.

My favourtite movie painting is that of Scarlett O Hara, as seen hanging in her and Rhett Butler's huge town house in Gone With the Wind. An imposing piece of portraiture I'd love to know who painted it and if Vivien Leigh actually sat for it. On further investigation, I've found out that it now hangs safely in the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta.

However another piece of movie history that probably HAS gone with the wind is the saloon painting of entertainer Katie Brown from the film Calamity Jane starring Doris Day and Howard Keel.

This (purposely) unfinished painting shows the newly discoverd showgirl Katie Brown after she made her debut, coming out of the shadows of stage star and former employee, Adelaide Adams.

Used simpley as a prop for Keel to sing to, this painting is still a super pin up girl of the era, with all the cute cheese cake allure of a Gil Elvgren. But where is it now?...

If you can think of any other paintings or art from the classic movies of yesteryear I'd love to know what they are and perhaps what happened to them, who knows, an historical movie gem could be sitting dusty in some attic right now just waiting to be discovered....

Friday 27 April 2012


 Fiona, acrylic on canvas 2012

Here's Fiona's portrait commission all finished. It was a real pleasure to paint. I really enjoy painting hair and as you can see Fiona's hair is very abundant in this picture! I completed this piece a few weeks ago and now I have a special 'Commission me' section on my website. There you'll find how easy it is to commission me for your own portrait or original art work with each stage broken down to explain the process. Whether it be as a gift for a loved one or an indulgence for yourself just get in touch to chat about ideas and we can take it from there.

Click on my 'Commission me' link HERE to find out more.

Here's some examples of other commissions I have worked on, in most cases I work from a few photos to capture the subject. Other times the image is mocked up by myself and approved by the client. To see more of my work visit my website HERE:

I was so impressed with Gemma's work that I asked her to commission a painting for me. I honestly didn't think that I would be so amazed by the finished product; it exceeded all of my expectations. Gemma is a true credit to her profession, and my painting takes pride of place in my bedroom.

Miss Chambers 

Your art is mesmerising and brings characters and features to life and each piece has it's own unique story to tell. My portrait still has pride of place in my house. Big fan of your work, it's fabulous.


Just wanted to say what an amazing portrait! I love love love it! You have captured the essence of me beautifully and your talents are second to none. Every woman should have a painting by you hanging on her wall! Thank you so very much.

Rene La Rouge 

I had never commissioned a painting before, but any fears were soon allayed by Gemma's enthusiasm and willingness to help me through the process. The result was a beautiful picture that each day brings a smile to my face.


Gemma Parker is a truly talented young lady. I was fortunate enough to be part of a project Gemma was undertaking and I had my portrait painted and it is literally a work of art!

Scarlet Fever

Monday 23 April 2012

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

The Lovers David Lachapelle

If I say the name David Lachapelle, those of you in the know will recall his over blown images of pop culture, saturated with colour and positively bursting at the seams with iconic references and sexual meanings. Even those who don't recognise the name will probably have seen his work; From ad campaigns to music videos, Lachapelle has produced work used across the world for some of the biggest names in celebrity and fashion. 

I was somewhat surprised therefore to see his new work, The Earth Laughs in Flowers. It wasn't like anything I'd seen him do before. The colours and narrative are still there but replacing the bright lights of Vegas and the showgirls are still life tableau recalling works of Dutch vanitas and memento mori paintings. 

Concerning the soul Davind Lachapelle

Flowers are the main theme here and they take centre stage surrounded with skulls and brass spy glasses. At first glance they made me recall Audrey Flack, with her hyper realist paintings of trinkets and photos. But the more I looked the more obvious it was that this was Lachapelle's take a familiar theme. 

Alongside the familiar old world objects, he has layered familiar products; pre-packaged food, fruit still in its cellophane, toys, mobile phones and cigarettes. Somehow he has managed to make everything look slightly over ripe and slightly tainted. 

Some of the flowers are beginning to wilt, some of the food is glistening with grease and sugar and the items all carefully arranged are reminiscent  of piles of garbage. Yet the overall look is beautiful.

Springtime David Lachapelle

A brush with mortality made Lachapelle question life, and explains this change in artistic direction. I really admire his views about transition, he is very philosophical about life and death. Through The Earth Laughs in Flowers we can find the beauty in those transitions and constant change. Having left commercial and fashion photography at the peak of his success you can really feel his new outlook and understanding of life.

Although these works are still dripping with plastic allure and the concept has been tackled before by others I find the painterly photographs very refreshing and highly provocative. Having been one of my favourite artists for some time this work impresses me perhaps more than some of his more playful commercial photos of earlier years.

Friday 13 April 2012

A Brush With Burlesque

I'll be showing work with A Brush With Burlesque Art Exhibition next month in London. A showcase of UK artists who paint or illustrate the vibrant British Burlesque scene. Details to follow soon on the official website :)

Monday 2 April 2012

Beatrix Von Bourbon to win Britain's Got talent!

I just want to say a huge congratulations to my favourite UK burlesque performer Beatrix Von Bourbon for passing the auditions of Britain's Got Talent this weekend! I am so excited for her!

Beatrix modelled for me a few years ago and was a brilliant subject to paint. Sexy, evocative and a real show woman, she was enthusiastic and very sweet. I still think how great it was of her to pose in not one but three different outfits for me as I clicked away with my camera. 

Beauty Marked modelled by Beatrix Von Bourbon

She also appeared in my Bon Bon's series, all be it anonymously. Her peachy bottom still is one of my most popular  pieces to date!

After Eight:  Model Beatrix Von Bourbon

I find it wonderfully refreshing to see someone on TV who is not only really and truly talented, but someone who also represents an alternative to the cookie cut examples of beauty we are beginning to think of as the norm. In an age where the standard of female attractiveness is judged by what shade of orange you are and where you had your boob job done, it is a breath of fresh air to watch Von Bourbon perform. Her brand of beauty is so stunning because she is unusual. As always you get my vote Beatrix!