Painting Bette Davis

Bette Davis is one of my favourite classic Hollywood actresses. The first time I ever saw her was in the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, and if you haven’t seen it you really should!! She is amazing as a delusional former child store trying to reclaim the glory days while simultaneously torturing her elder sister, played by Joan Crawford who was Bette Davis’ real life enemy. I’ve drawn Bette a few times over the years, but the other day I felt like it was time to try painting her.

I wanted this to be a simple painting, so I wasn’t going to attempt to recreate her skin tone or eye colour or anything like that. In the end, I worked with one brush and just 3 colours (gold, pink, and blue).


I began by sketching her portrait. Next, I used a gold colour to shade as I normally would if I were doing a full colour painting, piling on the colour in places where shadows occurred. The result of just this step was something I was really please with, but I wanted to keep going.



Next, I began layering on the pink and blue. I didn’t use these colours as extensively as the gold, as I just wanted them to create little pops here and there.


In the end, it almost came out with an old-fashioned type 3-D look which I really liked and will be using again at some point. In person, the painting is quite vibrant and interesting too look at, though the paint is laying on the page a bit too thick in some spots.


I love it though, and will enjoy keeping it in my private collection as a tribute to one of my favourite stars.


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