Mike Myers Spent Three Years Painting Portraits of Colonel Sanders

Mike Myers.
Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

Canadian-born, New York-based comedian and actor Mike Myers became an indelible part of the pop culture firmament with a string of cult and blockbuster movies in the 1990s and 2000s, including Wayne’s World, Austin Powers, and Shrek. But where has he been for the last few years? In his Soho studio making art history-themed portraits of KFC spokesperson Colonel Sanders, of course! As the comedian-turned-actor-turned-artist tells GQ, he developed a painting habit a few years ago and never stopped.

“I make about a painting a week,” Myers says. “I started painting about two and a half, three years ago. A friend of mine who’s an amazing painter named Damian Loeb, I would go over just to watch him paint, and then one day he said, ‘Why don’t you paint?’…My first painting was of my wife, Kelly. My second one was of my dog, George Harrison. And then I got into this Colonel Sanders thing.”


One of Mike Myers’s paintings of Colonel Sanders.
Courtesy the artist, via the Society of Gentlemen.

Predictably, interviewer Chris Heath has some questions about the “Colonel Sanders thing,” which Myers explains thusly:

Growing up in Canada, looking south at America, they are so amazing at creating identity that they even have enough leftover to come up with the colonel who is the colonel of chicken! As a kid I literally said the words, “Why are they militarizing chicken?” Because I didn’t understand the Kentucky Colonel of it all. Our whole family was obsessed with the Colonel. For me show business was buying Kentucky Fried Chicken. Because it was nationally advertised, and it seemed exotic. First of all, it’s a great character. He has his own unique silhouette—you can draw him in three lines. On the day that Lucian Freud died, I painted my version of a Freud with the Colonel, naked, holding a palette, painting himself. Then I did the Colonel with the Pearl Earring. Then I did the Colonel Lisa. You know, which is the Mona Lisa with the Colonel. This is so just a hobby. It is just making stuff. That’s all I want to do, is just make stuff.

In addition to his prolific work at the easel, Myers has been composing music at a rate of about one song per day using the program GarageBand. He has also been cutting numerous personal short films, many of which star his two-and-a-half-year-old son Spike.

“Lately all my iMovies have been Spike, of course, so I did A Hard Day’s Spike,” Myers says. “I recreated the Hard Day’s Night opening but just with footage that I had of Spike.”

For Myers, this James Franco-esque multidisciplinary experimentation is essential to keeping him engaged and creating new work.

“It connects me to creativity,” he says, “which is, which is to me the greatest gift my family gave me: saying that being an artist is a noble profession. At the end of the day I’m an artist.”

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