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Belfast artist Colin Davidson found Brad Pitt ‘creative at heart’ during his painting lessons


Artist Colin Davidson said actor Brad Pitt had an ‘aptitude’ for painting. Credit: Darren Kidd

Artist Colin Davidson said actor Brad Pitt had an ‘aptitude’ for painting. Credit: Darren Kidd

Artist Colin Davidson said actor Brad Pitt had an ‘aptitude’ for painting. Credit: Darren Kidd

The celebrated Belfast artist Colin Davidson has recalled how he taught Brad Pitt how to paint.

In a new TV interview, he discussed his career and time spent with some of the most famous people in the world.

Known for his portraits of famous faces, he has captured the likes of the Queen and the Irish President Michael D Higgins on canvas.

Other high profile names include actors Sir Kenneth Branagh and Liam Neeson as well musicians like Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody.

Last week, he also unveiled a unique three dimensional self portrait which he refers to as his ‘3D-selfie’.

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Interviewed as part of journalist Eamonn Mallie’s Face to Face series on UTV, he admitted to enjoying the often solitary life of a painter.

“It probably stems from when I was just a kid just enjoying being on my own,” he said.

“Whenever my friends were out kicking a ball in the street, I would be in drawing, painting, making things.”

Having started his career as a graphic artist and an employer, he made the switch to being a full time artist 30 years ago.

“I have this attitude to life and always have had. And it’s not a religious sense, but that is I view life as a gift and I think that I need to wring every last bit of potential from life.”

The son of an art teacher, he said he was always naturally drawn to the creative world.

Few could have predicted that Colin’s own art students would one day include Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt.

He said the A-list encounter started with an email from a lawyer who said a client in the United States had enjoyed his work and had asked to learn how to paint.

The Fight Club star had seen Colin’s work in a 2012 exhibition in London as well as on the cover of a Glen Hansard album.

“You sort of pinch yourself at the very start, and then very quickly you both realise you’re both human beings in a room.

“And I think the same goes for portrait sitting too.”

Not being a teacher, Colin said he felt out of his depth but tried to offer an experience of working through the same processes like mixing paint.

He said there was “no question” the actor had an aptitude for painting.

“You can spot whenever someone is creative at heart. You can spot whenever somebody is embracing everything that you’re pointing in their direction. And I certainly sensed that from him.”

In 2012, he was present at the famous moment in the Lyric Theatre in Belfast when the Queen shook hands with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.

He recalled the “incredible” experience of showing both of them his work, and how each shared their own thoughts.

“You realised you were in a moment of history and I was witnessing it.”

An invitation to paint the Queen followed the event in 2016.

“She had just turned 90 and I was standing on my own in the yellow drawing room, waiting for the Queen to walk in while the changing of the guard was going on outside ,” he said.

“It was one of those sparks of time that will always stay with me… I had a unique view of it from inside the palace.”

He was asked if he had a preference for what the Queen would wear, but decided against requesting her to wear her crown and robes.

“I was acutely aware that this was an Irish painting of the Queen, and I was acutely aware of what it meant to her to sit for an Irish painting of her.”

Leaving it to the monarch to decide, he said there were “no trappings of the crown” on show, with a turquoise day dress chosen instead.

Asked about the rapport, he said he was left with the impression of somebody with “immense wit” and warmth, and of someone who viewed the peace process in Northern Ireland as being a vital part of her reign.

Eamonn Mallie: Face to Face with Colin Davidson is broadcast on Tuesday night on UTV at 10.45pm 

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