A Touch Of Colour Portfolio
Shown below is my full collection of drawings with a touch of colour.
Quick navigation to a specific portrait:
Sophie Marceau is arguably the most talented, and certainly the most beautiful of all french actresses. Apart from her talent and beauty, or perhaps because of them, she is according to ‘Le Figaro,’ also the most popular actress in her homeland.
She was sixteen when she got the Cesar du meilleur espoir, the award for the best young actress. That same year, she paid one million Francs to get out of a contract with the Gaumont Film Company, the first and oldest continuously operating film company in the world. She had to borrow the money. Today she says, “that was a way to show that I exist, that I can choose what I do”.
‘Articulation’ and ‘release’ form the basis of sound guitar technique. In order to achieve two handed synchronization and ‘clean playing,’ aspiring guitarists need to fret and pick each note simultaneously. Unfortunately, whilst many players articulate a note cleanly, they ignore what immediately follows afterwards – the sound of 2 notes slightly ‘bleeding’ together. The solution is to simply ‘relax’ the fretting finger after the note has been played, instead of immediately lifting it off. This action effortlessly ‘releases’ the note allowing the guitarist to play faster, with greater ease, and for a longer duration of time.
All well and good then, provided one has a thumb and four fretting fingers to work with. Yet after a caravan fire, Django Reinhardt was compelled to create a whole new fingering system built around the two fingers on his left hand that retained full mobility. His fourth and fifth digits of the left hand were permanently curled towards the palm, due to the tendons shrinking from the heat of the fire. He could use them on the first two strings of the guitar for chords and octaves, but complete extension of these fingers was impossible. His subsequent soloing, played with such grace and precision, was all done with the index and middle fingers – a technique that almost defies belief. Despite this handicap, Reinhardt is regarded by millions as one of the greatest guitar players of all time, and is the first important European jazz musician who made major contributions to the development of the genre.
Robbie Williams famously quit Take That in 1995, leaving his legion of teen fans devastated after his drug addiction spiralled out of control. He went on to have several stints in rehab, including one in 2007 when he was be treated for his addiction to the prescription pills Xanax, Seroxat and Vicodin.
In 2013, he revealed that he would buy his daughter drugs when she grows up – to make sure she takes the “best possible”. Talking about fatherhood, he reportedly said:
“I doubt she’ll be like me. Touch wood, and follow that with a lot of love and a lot of luck, she won’t go there or have to go there. If unfortunately that does happen, I’ll know what to do. Which is make sure she’s got the best drugs possible – and take them with her.”
The singer, who married actress Ayda Field in 2010, has been previously chastised by his wife for being irresponsible and urged to curtail his ‘playstation’ activities; all of which leads to that ever central question : Do men ever grow up?
Interviewed by the journalist Michael Shelden in 2002, the then 71 year old actress made it clear that enough was enough. Fixing him with her sharp gaze, she leaned back in her chair and declared, “Freedom is marvellous. There are other things in life besides men.”
It would appear that Clair Bloom has been true to her words in the more than intervening decade that has elapsed since this interview. Guest television appearances in ‘Doc Martin’, ‘The Bill’ and ‘Doctor Who’, in addition to her role in ‘The King’s Speech’ bare testimony to her consistently strong work ethic.
Nevertheless, whilst she seemingly pursues the merits of an alternative lifestyle, the fact remains that for decades, her life was inextricably interwoven with many men. If she\‘s tired of it all, then frankly, it’s little wonder.
Arthur Lowe’s greatest skill was his timing. It was faultless. He could get huge laughs with such simple lines as “Just a moment,” “how dare you,” and “you stupid boy.”
He was a very kind man and would go out of his way to help actors less fortunate than himself. When he died suddenly in 1982 at the age of sixty six, many mourned his passing, yet in reality, his talent burns even brighter today more than thirty years on. Perhaps it’s the raft of second rate 21st century comedy that pales in comparison to his very best work, or merely the way he effortlessly personified those traditional English values of chivalry, stoicism, nationalism, pomposity, class consciousness, and honesty.
Whatever the reason, he remains one of the true celluloid greats. It goes without saying that I’ve watched him virtually my entire life, and despite repeated viewings, there’s always a fresh nuance to enjoy in his screen portrayal – that knowing look, the subtle preening of his moustache, or best of all, his look of sheer incredulity. Even in his minutest supporting roles, he could always be relied upon to pull the rug from under the feet of bigger names.
He should have hung around another twenty years – an investiture at Buckingham Palace would have sat well with him – but as it is, he will remain a national treasure, an actor to be enjoyed by future generations to come. It’s the very least he deserves.
By 2013, Irish rockabilly queen Imelda May had come a long way since her self-released debut album eight years earlier. Her 3rd major label album ‘Mayhem’ generated precisely that throughout the world, clearly finding an audience who weren’t being catered for by most modern artists. Her stompin’ anthems ‘Johnny Got A Boom Boom’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘Inside Out’ could have been 1950s classics.
Her special blend of old rock ‘n’ roll with rhythm ‘n’ blues took listeners on a twistin’ ride through influences by Wanda Jackson, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, but all delivered by Imelda’s own unique voice and lyrics. As Jeff Beck discovered, she could multi-track her voice in exquisite fashion, a point duly noted by the late great Les Paul – so uncanny being her ability to recreate his wife Mary Ford’s classic 50’s recordings. As Clash magazine so succinctly put it – “The problem with an artist like Imelda May is that she’s so good, it makes a critical review almost impossible to write; her performance is flawless.”
For me personally, it meant that I could finally mention her name in company without automatically drawing nonplussed looks from all and sundry. It had taken time and she’d paid her club dues, but at 39, this musical goddess was set to go viral. What would follow was therefore somewhat unexpected with changes in her personal life, musical style and appearance. Still, all great artists evolve over time so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised.
So that’s it then. One primetime screening by ITV of ‘Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This’, and we have the memory of a great and sadly late, comedian reduced to little more than an insufferable drunk and wife beater.
His surviving daughter Vicky remains unhappy with the production – “He used to have blazing rows with his manager Miff Ferrie. One time he slammed a chair on the floor and the legs broke off. But he’d take out his rage on things, not people.And the next day he’d have a good sense of humour about it. I remember him saying afterwards: ‘Oh, that’s a shame. That was my favourite chair!’ He was a big drinker too but I don’t know if you could call him an alcoholic.There’s a fine line between drinking too much and being alcohol-dependant. He didn’t wake up at 7am and start drinking, but he would let his hair down after a performance.”
Time therefore, to re-examine the Cooper legacy – a challenge indeed for I loved the man. Merely dismissing his humour as inane, almost child-like, as many do, is to miss the point completely. He may well have been mean with money, and capable of ingratitude towards friends and colleagues, but Cooper remains the very epitome of that showbusiness cliché a ‘born entertainer.’
The death of Marc Bolan in 1977 was shrouded in uncertainty for many years. Whilst fans from around the world, would converge on that tree in south-west London where the glam rock star drew his last breath, the prevailing misconception about his tragic demise had acquired a life of its own.
Finally, in 2012, an eyewitness to the devastation of the car crash that killed the rock star would tell her story to a national newspaper. Vicky Aram, 77, a former nightclub singer, had been invited back from a party by Bolan, his girlfriend Gloria Jones and Jones\‘s brother Richard to discuss musical projects. Following them in a separate car, Ms Aram was at the scene seconds after the impact.
By some bitter twist of irony, Bolan had commented only weeks earlier on the death of Elvis Presley, going on record to reveal how pleased he was to have avoided passing away at the same time, for fear of the rather scant press coverage he might have received. As it was, he would secure front page headlines, something at least to put a smile on the face of Pop’s Glam Prince.
Scarlett Johansson, the American actress, model, and singer, made her film debut in ‘North’ (1994). In 1996, she was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her performance in Manny & Lo, garnering further acclaim and prominence with roles in The Horse Whisperer (1998) and Ghost World (2001). She shifted to adult roles with her performances in ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ (2003) and Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation’ (2003), for which she won a BAFTA award for Best Actress in a Leading Role; both films earning her Golden Globe Award nominations as well.
Having briefly investigated her filmography – and with no conscious decision on my part dating way back – I’ve realised that I know nothing of her work.
Better be careful here!
John Le Mesurier
‘Traitor,’ a BBC television drama written by Dennis Potter and directed by Alan Bridges, featured in the ‘Play for Today’ series on 14 October 1971. It starred John Le Mesurier as Adrian Harris, a character loosely based on Kim Philby.
Philby was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a double agent before defecting to the Soviet Union in 1963. That year, he was revealed to be a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, and as successful as he was in providing secret information to the Soviet Union, his activities were nonetheless moderated by Joseph Stalin’s fears that he was secretly on Britain’s side
After years of industrious stage, Tv and film work in supporting roles, Le Mesurier’s performance would win him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1972. After years of industrious stage, Tv and film work in supporting roles, Le Mesurier’s performance would win him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1972. It was a fitting testimony to the British actor who had commenced his career playing dramatic roles, before being enveloped by his trademark comic ‘gloom-and-doom’ English toff characterisation. This persona would sustain him throughout a twenty year plus prolific work schedule.
It kicks in a 3.22 during the last recording on side two of Jose Feliciano’s album ’10 to 23.’ A cover of Lennon-McCartney’s “Hey Jude,” it’s a three minute gut string guitar solo that bears all the virtuoso hallmarks of the blind Puerto Rican’s musicianship.
It seems barely possible that a human being could generate such a diverse range of licks, flicks, angular scale work, superfast triplets and contrapuntal chord soloing. Forget the overrated heavy metal merchants whose reputations endure on the back of huge Marshall stack amps and heavy distortion, Feliciano simply plays here with a miked flamenco guitar, accompanied by sweeping strings and horns. At no point throughout the extended solo does he repeat a single motif.
A genius, so stop telling people you play the guitar and switch to the old chestnut “I’m learning the guitar.” Just like me – and I’ve learned a lot after nearly fifty years of playing – we’re all still schmucks on the instrument. One listen to Feliciano, and you’ll understand why.
Nicole Scherzinger sold over 54 million records worldwide with the Pussycat Dolls, a burlesque six-part pop act, yet much of this period in her life was beset with problems, not least of all, an eating disorder which lasted for eight years.
She launched her solo career in 2009 and, in the same year, was called in by Simon Cowell to replace Cheryl Cole as a judge on ‘The X Factor USA.’ Scherzinger was such a success that she joined the British version for two series. “I dove in,” she says. “What I loved is that I got to be myself, and the UK embraced me. It made me feel confident to be goofy enough to say silly words like ‘schamazing’.”
She would make a success of her London stage run in “Cats,” despite initial misgivings. Interviewed in early 2015, she confessed to thinking that ‘Oh, the British public isn’t going to like me, because they’re used to seeing bubbly, fun Nicole and Grizabella is depressing.’
The release of a new solo album was rather overshadowed by the on-off nature of her relationship with Formula One motor racing champion Lewis Hamilton. When a thirty year old man involved with a thirty six year old woman isn’t ready for children, then the relationship has to implode. Asked if she wanted marriage and children in the next decade, she was clear on the subject – ‘Oh yeah, I’ll definitely have that by then. I’ll definitely have that. Definitely, that would be nice…’
The pragmatist in her might have substituted “the next decade” for “next two years.”
Blessed with flawless, radiant “cafe au lait” skin, Dorothy Dandridge could light up any room with her reverberating, confident laugh and fierce, dazzling eyes. But being a black actress in the 1950s meant playing savages, slaves, and mamies, essentially debasing roles that Dandridge refused on principle. In the films where she did get to play a a non-servant, non-exotic, non-savage, she was not allowed to do more than kiss, as the idea of a black woman in love was altogether too dangerous for the screen. “If I were white,” Dandridge explained, “I would capture the world.”
The first African – American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for her role in “Carmen” (1954), her life was punctuated by professional highs and emotional lows. She died in 1965 under mysterious circumstances at the age of 42, yet in recent times stars like Halle Berry, Cicely Tyson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Tasha Smith, and Angela Bassett have all acknowledged Dandridge’s contributions to the role of Black Americans in film.
She suffered so that others wouldn’t have to. Yet fifty years after her death, when one would hope that all vestiges of discrimination, prejudice, and sexual stereotyping would have dissipated, they’re still alive and well even if we kid ourselves otherwise.
She must be turning in her grave.
Monica Bellucci began her career as a model and subsequently made the transition to Italian films. She would eventually work in Hollywood, starring as Persephone in the 2003 science fiction films “The Matrix Reloaded,” “Enter the Matrix,” & “The Matrix Revolutions.” She would subsequently appear as Mary Magdalene in the 2004 biblical drama “The Passion of the Christ,” before landing a key role in the 2015 Bond film “Spectre.”
At 50, she would become the oldest Bond girl in the history of the franchise. A mother for the first time at the age of 40 – she would bear her second child at 45 – Bellucci was not slow in telling director Sam Mendes that “he would be a hero among women for casting me in Spectre.” “For the first time in history, James Bond is going to have a story with a mature woman.”
Evidently, a woman in no particular hurry to record various landmarks in either her private or professional life!
“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine…”
Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund in “Casablanca” (1942), driving the tormented Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) to distraction.
If the last scene at the airport doesn’t ‘get you,’ then you just haven’t lived…….
Naomi Campbell, the English model, actress, singer, and author, established herself in the late 80’s as one of the top three most recognizable and in-demand models of the modern era.
In addition to her modelling career, Campbell has embarked on other ventures, which include an R&B-pop studio album and several acting appearances in film and television. Unfortunately, for millions suitably disinterested in the fashion industry, she’s more widely known for her temper tantrums, culminating in four assault charges. I’d hate to be around her when she’s mislaid her hairbrush!!!
Fame is fickle, and current trends can alter faster than the wind. Ask Natalie Imbruglia. Despite some fine song-writing contributions from Coldplay’s Chris Martin and the valiant efforts of top producer Brian Eno, her 2009 album, ‘Come to Life,’ stiffed spectacularly. Lacklustre sales in her homeland — just 740 copies shifted in Australia during its first week in the record shops — prompted her to cancel the album’s official release in the UK. This was disappointing news for an artist who had sold in excess of 8m albums, been nominated for three Grammys and won multiple Brits and MTV awards.
What followed was five years of vocal inactivity, making her return to the recording studio in 2014 an exercise in trepidation. ‘Apart from a few drunken nights out and some shower singing, I hadn’t sung a note for five years. I went into the vocal booth and said to my producer, “I’m not sure what’s going to come out!” ’ Fortunately for her, the sweet, plaintive voice was still there and the lyrical skills came back, too. Interviewed at the time of her comeback album’s release in 2015, she was moved to say – ‘I didn’t want any electronic sounds on the album… I wanted it to be vocally driven and storytelling-raw.’ Essentially a collection of covers, the album would be characterised by generally good reviews and reasonable sales – sufficiently large to break the Top 30 in her native Australia and the UK.
Taking time out from an industry that can ‘chew you up and spit you out’ is no bad thing, but Umbruglia is no ex-Beatle busy baking bread whlst a worldwide audience clamours for more product. She’s had her five year sabbatical, and there’s a follow up album of original material now in the works, but at 40 she’s undeniably lost ground, and needs to redefine her market very carefully. Teenage memories are notoriously short.