Painting, drawing, sculpting, and printmaking are among the rich assortment of skills that some actors develop when they’re not acting. After all, creating artwork represents a different way for them to express themselves, feel inspired, and remain engaged in the creative process. Here are three actors who feel energized with a paintbrush in hand and share a passion for the visual arts.

Lucy Liu

Elementary star Lucy Liu is an accomplished artist who attended the New York Studio School for drawing, painting, and sculpture from 2004 to 2006. She works in several media including painting, silkscreening, collage, and photography. The Charlie’s Angels actress has painted for years under the pseudonym Yu Ling, which is her Chinese name, and her work has been exhibited in London, Paris, New York, and Manchester. Lucy does exhibit her art even though sharing it can sometimes make her feel uncomfortable. She believes it’s important for artists to share their work and insists, “You can’t just hold it for yourself.”  Liu certainly is multitalented; she is an actress, director, producer, and singer. But when it comes to the visual arts, she says, “I’d like to have a separate career as an artist if I could. But just like drop everything else and do that for a little while.” She told Hunger TV, “Art is something that’s incredibly important to me because it helps feed creativity, it helps feed inspiration and love. I love to work off of something that is going to continue to make me question and be curious.”

Johnny Depp

Although Johnny Depp says he paints “like a toddler,” he actually is praised for his “strangely moving” artwork. The Pirates of the Caribbean star paints loved ones like his beloved mother Betty Sue as well as many famous people like his mentor and friend Marlon Brando and his inspiration Keith Richards. Depp once told Vanity Fair, “What I love to do is paint people’s faces, ya know, their eyes. Because you want to find the emotion, see what’s going on behind their eyes.”  But his fascination with elephants likewise drives him to pick up his palette. In 2014, Depp revealed to Ellen DeGeneres, “I like the shape of elephants. There’s various shapes in terms of painting. A lot of different textures and things on elephants.”  Here is a sample of Depp’s artwork.

Jim Carrey

In addition to creating wild characters for the silver screen, Jim Carrey likewise is a prolific visual artist in his private life. He channels his abundant energy within the walls of his New York art studio where he produces pop-style portraits of friends, fiberglass sculptures, videos, and even puppets. “I’m addicted to the idea of creation. I think you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re creating for yourself. You create for other people to experience it,” he told Palm Springs Life during his solo exhibition Nothing to See. His paintings often capture his larger-than-life personality and he admits the painting process can sometimes mystify him. “It’s a weird thing when I paint, I sometimes don’t know what I’m painting till a year later in therapy,” he told Jimmy Kimmel. “When I’m involved in creation, whether it be a movie, a painting, a joke, a song, or a sculpture it stops the world for me,” his artist statement reveals.

How often do you pull out the pencils, charcoals, acrylics, or oils? Do you feel your expression in the visual arts is complementary and perhaps enriches your acting performances?

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