Posted in Derren's Posts

Posted by Derren Brown April 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm

As some of you have asked, here is a sequence of images showing how ‘Grande Dame’ was painted. It’s still yet to get it photographed to best reflect the original, but when I do I’ll put it on with prints for sale.

As ever, acrylics on canvas, this one 5 foot x 5 foot.

April 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm


You are truly a genius Derren!! I LOVE IT!! πŸ˜€ XXXXXXXXXX

April 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Really impressive work, I love seeing the transitions between phases of the creation of art.

April 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Really amazing how the differing colours are used to make Judi’s skin tone. Marvellous set of photos. Thank you for sharing them with us on here, Derren. And again, wonderful painting.

LC x

April 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm

True talent amazing, the depth it jumps out of you

April 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Really interesting to see the technique you’ve developed now, makes me want to attack that canvas upstairs and try some new ideas.

I wonder how many hours of work that sequence of photos covers – actually I don’t want to know as it’d probably make me want to drown things πŸ™‚

April 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm
Bletherskite says:

Beautiful work. The eyes are amazing.

April 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm
Siobhan M says:

You’re unbelievable, really. : )

April 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm
jameshogg says:


Grr you seem to know what you are doing as an artist 😑 I wish I did rofl πŸ™

April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm
Angela says:

Wow. Truly excellent work. It just goes to show how much goes into a painting of that size and nature. Is there nothing you can’t do? Talk to squirrels perhaps?

April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm
Stephen says:

I do like to see the progress of work on a piece of art. One can learn so much from the construction of a portrait, and the finished result fully reflects the hours of work that you dedicated to the project. I hope that Dame Judi can see and comment upon her likeness, either in a gallery viewing or a private showing!

April 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm
kat says:

WOW! AMAZING! Thanks for sharing! x

April 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm
Nicole says:

Thanks for sharing this Derren, absolutely fantastic x

April 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm
spiderabc1 says:

Female Yoda – brilliant! Cheers for sharing.

April 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm
Kevin D says:

Would absolutely love to see video of you painting, with you thinking out loud about what you’re doing. It’s fascinating watching the transition from lines and strokes to a recognizable image.

April 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Nathan says:

I absolutley love your ability as a painter. Nice one – keep them coming

April 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm
sanjay says:

really awesome.. u r amazing Derren..

April 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm
Ginger says:

Extremely good! πŸ™‚
And I love amount of detail. Really impressive!

April 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm
Hikky says:

O.M.F.G. i am actually speechless…OMG!!! its brilliant..enough said…


April 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm
Rhian says:

Wow! Thank you x

April 27, 2010 at 7:07 pm
Elly says:

I absolutely love seeing how your portraits come together; its so fascinating. When I saw this post I was standing in a train station and my very audible ‘WOW’ caused me to catch a few questioning looks over the top of the newpapers; πŸ™‚
Random Guy: “embarrassed much?”……
Me: πŸ˜› “Hell no, just look at those pictures……like I said….WOW!!”
Random Guy: “erm…actually yeah…WOW!”
Lol πŸ˜€
You never cease being an inspiration to me……. the piece is fantastic!! x

April 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm
Patricia says:

Wow! You’re amazing!!

April 27, 2010 at 7:18 pm
G. says:

Derren, i think all your art work is amazing especially this one! The eyes are the best . they are so real looking x

April 27, 2010 at 7:20 pm
Emily says:

Yet again you have left me very much speechless… AMAZING work, Derren. You really are extremely talented :):) x

April 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm
cindy says:

Excellent,Derren!!!The eyes are so alive and the texture of her hair is brilliant.It’s amazing how she transforms from being “Tangoed” in the first few photos to recognisable Judy Dench in the last few photos. Why have you started going BIG with your artwork?Any reason?

April 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm
Ellie says:

Wow! That is just so good!

April 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm
Peter says:

The human skull???? Is that the hidden (well, hidden ..) title of this piece?

I’m amazed by what was behind the not finished painting you showed us the other day of her .. truely amazed. I don’t paint, don’t know a darn thing about it, but I probably sound stupid when I mention that I had no idea that you built that human skin up like that.
And the eyes (colour) .. they keep changing ..

The first picture here made me think of a more modern painting .. and then you keep adding colour on top .. and then she got a corps colour, but then you started to change it again .. ending with the result sofar ..

I was already impressed with you showing only the end result, but now I’m even more impressed and intrigued by the process itself along the way. I hope you too, still. Kinda.

April 27, 2010 at 9:01 pm
steffjade says:

wow just amazing πŸ˜€ how can one guy be so talented…

got to admit, it does get slightly scary as the pic gets closer and closer 😐

April 27, 2010 at 9:07 pm
Agata says:


Great job Derren! How long did it take you to paint it overall?


April 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm
Rob says:

The poster of human skulls in the background… is it for your portraiture or taxidermy?

April 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm
Nasima bibi says:

ur talent makes me sick!!! brilliant πŸ˜‰

April 27, 2010 at 9:38 pm
StickyBug says:

Spookily life like. “M” for marvellous. But still spooky. I’d get an electrician in if I was you. xXx

April 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm
Remco says:

Amazing stuff, as always!
You should continue posting sequences like this one, it really does make your work even more impressive πŸ™‚

April 27, 2010 at 10:01 pm
Judith says:

You are ace, thanks for sharing the photo’s. πŸ˜€ x

April 27, 2010 at 10:02 pm
kzk says:

Pictures of celebrites seem a bit childish, but this “Grande Dame” almost photorealistic portrait
something a bit more grown-up. He is genuinely skilled with the magic.

Big Issue. Scotland’s Award-Winning magazine.
I saw a man standing with the Big Issues front page was Derren holding a crystal ball
“You will buy this Magazine. I was hypnotized so I bought it. the grand illusionist on politics,
love life and feeding his ego etc.
I felt so sorrey for the man long way from Rumania standing a street for 3years.
I hope Derren helps him with magic.

I very much look forward to seeing Derren again in the near future.

All the best and take good care of yourself. xx

April 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm
Lucy Hunt says:

Derren this is so inspiring!! I am trying to think of a talent which you don’t have…. πŸ˜› There’s obviosuly your mind stuff (<3), and you are amazing at art, and you have the most incredible memory, and you're really good looking :D, And you can be really funny too πŸ™‚
LOVE YOU :):) xxxxxx

April 27, 2010 at 10:42 pm
ReliegiousMarie says:

Ohwww, …Mr. to the pixel perfect! Love it love it love it… πŸ˜€

I’ve been staring at the piccies for hours now and am actually worried about the preciseness, there are actually quite a few things i don’t get about the technique but i guess, as with your other craft, you dont wanna reveal all… Really i think i would be happy if i came to piccie 7 (that one is a nice one on its own already)…sjeejs…

Would you maybe consider (not here but for your art-site maybe) to also elaborate more (explaining etc) on the techniques?

(hides under the table)


April 28, 2010 at 12:17 am
goldcube says:

This picture shows so much talent, I’m truly impressed. But there’s a coldness to it, a barely perceptible but nevertheless evident sense of unkindness, disdain, superciliousness that I believe characterizes all of the artist’s work, both in visual art & in performance. This may be the sort of thing that will change with increasing age &, one hopes, wisdom.

April 28, 2010 at 12:32 am
Steven says:

That’s amazing! You should paint James Randi one day…

April 28, 2010 at 1:09 am
JibJIB says:

Have you ever thought about painting in oils? And going into abstraction….?

April 28, 2010 at 2:52 am
Moi says:

Wow!! Is there nothing you can’t turn your hand to? That is serious talent you have there. Very, very impressive. Thank you for sharing all the stages this work of art went through. Very interesting.
Glad you decided to share your artistic talents with the world too. They’re amazing.


April 28, 2010 at 6:29 am
shabz says:

did you catch the last episode of big bang theory?? I also recommend watching the Mentalist, it’s kind of hilarious! πŸ˜€

April 28, 2010 at 10:04 am
Colleen Sloan says:

AMAZIN, You are SUCH an inspiration Derren, I have watched all your shows and seen you live in Belfast a couple of weeks ago……Im studying psychology and your work just pushes me harder and DITTO, I love art as well……..maybe if we both got together, we could discover all the secrets of the human mind!!!LOL Amazin to see the dedication you have with everything!xx

April 28, 2010 at 10:05 am
Carly Anderson says:

You are so incredibly talented. This painting is amazing.

April 28, 2010 at 10:11 am
Diane Brown says:

Really FANTASTIC!! You are so talented – πŸ˜€
The detail is amazing!
Well done you! XxXxXx

April 28, 2010 at 10:17 am
Dmaco says:

i just cant stop looking through the sequence and seeing what colours you used etc, i dunno how you do it! i wouldnt have a clue where to start!
The attention to detail is astounding! absolutely faultless master piece.

You sir, are pure genius!


April 28, 2010 at 10:34 am
JayKay says:

I am quite stunned. I’d work on patches/areas. I don’t think my brain could do the layer, layer, layer thing that Derren does. I can’t see it i masks, I’d get bogged down in detail too quickly. Bloody Hell – when will Derren’s head actually explode?

April 28, 2010 at 10:37 am
Kerrie says:

OMG DERREN! thats bloody brilliant! x

April 28, 2010 at 10:43 am
Emma SR says:

I’d love to know what Dame Judy thinks of her portrait

April 28, 2010 at 11:25 am
Darryl says:

Asside from all the cooing over your art – I have the portraits book and am in total awe, but as I said, NO COOING.

any how, asside from that you need to get that socket on the skirting board sorted. It is quite dangerous and would not pass a health and safety inspection, assuming of course that your studio is classed as a place of work :p

April 28, 2010 at 11:56 am
Paul Huntley says:

Awe, pure awe…. the extent to which you rule is only exceeded by your potential πŸ™‚

April 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm
macateb says:

I would love to see a TV series with you going to various celebrities, or inspiring people, chat to them, do a couple of tricks with them and paint a small portrait of them. It could show you doing sketches when you are with the subject and then show the main painting process at your home or on a set in a tv studio.
Rolf Harris did something like this a few years ago and it was great to watch.

April 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm
Sabina says:

A truly outstanding work of art. So fascinating to see how it was done. Thanks so much for sharing that with us. πŸ˜€

April 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm
Lee says:

Great series of pictures Derren. I do like your painting.

April 28, 2010 at 3:02 pm
Angela Chinnock says:

WOW!! The fantastic Mr Brown, Genius!!

April 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm
Karan says:

Totally amazing!!!

April 28, 2010 at 5:19 pm
J. S-R. says:

very very nice!
everything I can do you can do better… gah!
I see very little difference between the second and third pictures.

April 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm
Bulbboy says:

The clock at the side of the painting intrigued me, and got me wondering how long the portrait took from start to finish.

April 28, 2010 at 5:49 pm
Toni :) says:

This is beyond amazing, I neaver realised how many stages were involved!

April 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm
Connie says:

I guess this is artistic, but I have seen Judi Dench in person, and she looks so much better than this. She doesn’t wear black eyebrow pencil, and even in daylight she isn’t this wrinkled. I think it’s more of a Judi Dench nightmare version.

April 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm
Hayley says:

Seeing the painting from start to finish is really inspiring.

These photos have just taught me more about how to paint that my BA Fine Art course ever will!

I love how much expression and personality you put in the paintings.

April 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm
JudiFan says:

I tend to agree with Connie. As a Judi Dench fan who sees her as much as humanly possible in every possible venue and light, I have never seen her look this old and wrinkled. Her eyebrows are never black and never that arched. Her nose is NOT crooked and her eyes are much more blue. Judi Dench is a very attractive lady and not a female YODA!

April 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm
Margaret says:

Great portrait! However, haven’t you forgotten to include the mole in the middle of her forehead?!?!

April 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm
Scott says:

I love the way you’ve shown it in stages. I wonder where you find all the time to do such amazing artwork in between your shows and upcoming shows. Really great!

April 29, 2010 at 10:56 am
eol says:

That’s really inspiring, the colors, the patterns, it looks like Derren did again an impressive piece of Art based on endless researches. 5*5 is way too big for my bedroom, I’m hoping they will sell the postcard πŸ™‚

April 29, 2010 at 11:38 am
crayon says:

I Want a new TV special :” Derren Brown paints”.


April 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm
Dmaco says:

it makes me laugh how some people dont understand caricature.

April 29, 2010 at 9:06 pm
Stefan says:

Scarily good, love the eyes.

April 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm
Angie baby says:

No way…..I can’t believe you did that. It’s awesome.

April 30, 2010 at 11:02 am
EmilyT says:

Wonderful painting. Love how the sequence shows paint…paint…more paint… then suddenly “POP” it suddenly appears so much more “real” from just the 3D effect from shades of paint – am always amazed at the magic artists can create.

April 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm
Huw Sayer says:

Brilliant; though the nagging cynic in me keeps asking: “If this is a Derren Brown painting, what is the trick?” -which detracts slightly from the pleasure of seeing the process unfold. Nevertheless, would love to watch a real time video of Derren working on this.

Shame we can’t see the clock in all the shots to get a feel for the time involved – first partial view of it seems to be about 12.40 then 1.50, then five pics from the end we see a 5.10 – then one more (4 pics from end) where no hands are visible which makes me think it must be heading towards 9.00 – so AT LEAST 9 hours to paint (assuming completed on one day) amazing talent and stamina!

Thank you.

May 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm
Beth says:

Absolutely incredible!!!
Your talent never ceases to amaze me! πŸ™‚

May 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm
Ashleigh says:

I love your caricatures, youÒ€ℒre very skilled.
I always like looking at how others paint.

September 15, 2010 at 8:51 am
haizen says:

This is indeed a striking portrait, but caricature need not be unflattering and usually isn’t unless the artist dislikes the subject. *I wonder if that’s the case here*, and I wonder why more people haven’t commented that this is a noticeably unflattering portrait of a legendary actress of vibrant nature and character. Viewers may be impressed by the way this portrait is accomplished technically, but I think they miss that it’s saying something harsh about her, and I wonder if this is deliberate or not, or whether it’s beyond the ability of the artist to portray her without such a twisted mouth, the excessively raised and exaggerated eyebrows, and the old and craggy skin. While I’m impressed with the technical expertise, I don’t get the impression he likes her. There’s no GLOW.