Fan wall

This new page will cover the portraits for my fan wall. An actual wall, that is.
Whenever I have something new, I will add it to the end of the page, so it will be worth it to come by for an update every, now and then.

There are no rules. I always decide spontaneously what the next portrait will be. There will be big time jumps and some people may even turn up twice. Who knows, maybe even more often depending on how big my admiration is. Or my crush. Or my memories. Maybe in different roles if they are actors. There will probably be more men than women, but simply because I have had more crushes on men over the years. I started out with actors and actresses, but I expect there will be others as well eventually.
Okay, thinking about it there are some rules after all. Except for the first portrait I did which then led to the idea of the fan wall all those portraits have eight colors, seven of them always the same. Only the background can change slightly in color and I have used pearly white instead of pure white, too - ooh, I'm such a rebel - but it's still white. The second rule is that they are all the same size. The third rule is that my gut is telling me whom to put up there. There's no "Groucho Marx is up there, you HAVE to have Harpo and Chico" if Groucho is my favorite. That's what being a fan is all about. If I want half a comedy group, two thirds of a band, a whole football team (no, that's not going to happen, it's just an example), or Batman without Robin (that's not going to happen, either) - it's my decision.

Now let me tell you a little about those portraits.
They are made on a bead loom. First I look for a picture that I like. If necessary, I crop it to the part of the photo that I need and transfer it to black and white, and then I edit it for contrast, shadows, highlights and brightness.
Yes, I do use a bead program (BeadTool 4) to transfer the picture to the pattern. If I wanted, I could use my eight colors palette for that. Sounds easy, doesn't it? I put a picture in and I get a pattern out. Like a toast in a toaster.
It doesn't work that way, though. Using my palette sometimes gives me less than my eight colors on a pattern and makes it look, well, interesting, but not necessarily good.
You get the idea.  So I don't use my palette. I use more colors, but filter out some of the finishes, like shiny metallics. After the transfer I start working on the pattern.
Maybe there are things in the picture that I don't want there, like earrings, a hand on the throat or a finger on the chin, and I have to "paint" over them in the pattern.
Next I merge colors meaning a light pink might change into white or a light grey. A dark grey might turn out gunmetal or black. I can't just merge in random order, though. I can try, but I might end up with a face that is white and light grey with solid black hair or the other extreme, a face that is a big gunmetal shadow with some spots of white.
By now I have an idea of when to bring my color palette into the pattern, before merging or after doing a few steps. You see, the transfer might have ignored my colors completely or just some of them in the first step.
As soon as I am overall happy and down to my palette, I'm ... nope, still not done. That's when I clean up the pattern some more. If the eyes are too dark, I have to find the right spot where to lighten them up a little. Maybe I need to work on random spots that could look like pimples later or I change some shadows to avoid giving those ladies a moustache that isn't really there. I may work on the highlights in the hair some more. 

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that the first picture doesn't always work out. Sometimes I pick new ones again and again and start all over or make ten drafts.
This is what really makes those portraits my creations and not the program's.

In fact I sometimes change the pattern even while looming. I have ripped out a few rows before because an eye or a nose looked weird after all. BT4 doesn't show the colors exactly the way they are in real life, so sometimes it happens that I underestimate the darkness of a grey or brightness of a white.

And I do admit it, sometimes I notice too late that maybe a little spot here or there could have been better or that a white AB sneaked its way in between the crystal AB. There's no ripping up once all the threads are re-woven and definitely not after framing.
I keep learning with each portrait I make and it's still as much fun as when I made the first one.

Now let's get to the portraits themselves, though.
Please remember they look a little different depending on how far you are away. If you are closer, you obviously see the individual beads, but that changes if you move away a little.
Each portrait comes with a little information, click the links if you want to know more.

Simon Baker was born in Tasmania, Australia on July 30, 1969.
His first role in an Australian soap opera gained him the Logie award. After playing in several soap operas he finally relocated to Los Angeles with his family where he was cast in his first movie.
Although he was in more than 20 movies and three TV shows (one of them very short lived), his best known role is as CBI consultant Patrick Jane in "The Mentalist".
Baker has produced and directed on several episodes of his show and started working on a movie based on an award winning novel by Tim Winton in 2015.

David Duchovny was born in New York City on August 7, 1960.
He appeared in several movies, but his big breakthrough came with the role of Special Agent Fox Mulder in the "X-Files" TV show and movies (fans are happily waiting for a revival of the show). He had another hit with the show "Californication". In 2015 he released his first novel, started a new TV show and also released his first album! 

Tim Curry was born in Cheshire, England on April 19, 1946.
He started out as a theater actor. His role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter was not only a big hit on the stage, but also in the screen version "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" which had its 40 year anniversary in 2015.
It would take too long to list everything he made as an actor, composer, and singer!

Colin Firth was born in Hampshire, England, on September 10, 1960.
He has played a variety of character parts in movies and TV with Mr Darcy from the mini series "Pride and Prejudice" after Jane Austen's novel being one of the most notable.
In 2011 he received an Academy Award for his role of King George VI in "The King's Speech".

Harrison Ford was born in Chicago on July 13, 1942.
He appeared in TV shows and movies before he landed a big hit with his role as Han Solo in "Star Wars" after which there was no stopping him from becoming a big Hollywood star. 38 (!) years afterwards he will soon be now coming back to the screen as Han.

Margaret Rutherford was born in London on May 11, 1892. She died in Buckinghamshire on May 22, 1972.
Although she has appeared in more than 40 movies and received an Academy Award for "The V.I.P.s" in 1963, she will probably always be best remembered for her Miss Marple in four movies, even if she is not like the Miss Marple of Agatha Christie's novels at all.

Diana Rigg was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire on July 20, 1938. She died in London on September 10, 2020.
She was a well known theater actress and also appeared on TV and in movies, but is best known for her role of the wonderful Emma Peel in the TV series "The Avengers".

Benedict Cumberbatch was born in London on July 19, 1976.
He studied drama and acting and has since worked in theater, television, film, and radio. His breakthrough came when he portrayed Stephen Hawking on screen, but the role  in "Sherlock" as the famous detective in a modern day version was maybe an even bigger step. He has been in big demand since then. Fans are eagerly awaiting new episodes with their favorite detective and his Dr. Watson.

Cary Elwes was born in London on October 26, 1962.
His movie "The Princess Bride" for which he had to train how to fence with both his right and left hand had not been very popular when it came out, but is a favorite for many people now. Elwes even wrote a book about the making of the movie.

Candice Bergen was born in Beverly Hills on May 9, 1946.
Bergen was not just a movie actress, she also pursued a career as a photographer and photojournalist.
Her movies in the 60s and 70s were not particularly successful, but things improved when she turned to comedy.
The late 80s TV show "Murphy Brown" was a highlight of her career at that point. After her first husband, French director Louis Malle, died, she kept a low profile, but then returned to the screen as lawyer Shirley Schmidt in the show "Boston Legal".

James Spader was born in Boston on February 7, 1960.
He went from television movies to Brat Pack films. After he got a Best Actor award at Cannes, he moved on to bigger roles one of which is the character of attorney Alan Shore that actually appears in two different TV shows,"The Practice" and "Boston Legal".
Spader has landed another hit with the "The Blacklist".

Peter Lorre was born in Rózsahegy on June 26, 1904. He died in Los Angeles on March 23, 1964.
As a youth Lorre ran away from home to take up acting. He remained unknown until he was cast for the movie "M" as the psychopathic child killer.
From then on he often played eerie or eccentric characters in horror or "dark" movies. One of the roles loved by the audience was that of Mr. Moto in a series of eight movies about a Japanese secret agent.
In the 50s and 60s Lorre had problems finding work and ended up appearing in mostly unsuccessful movies until his death.

Siddharth was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on April 17, 1979.
After completing his MBA he started out as assistant director before he got into acting mostly in Telugu, but also Tamil and Hindi movies.
He has been working as writer, actor/dancer, producer and even as singer in some of his movies.
In 2012 he produced his first film Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi after a YouTube short movie; it was a success both financially and with the critics.

Cary Grant was born in Bristol on January 18, 1904 as Archibald Leach. He died in Davenport, Iowa, on November 29, 1986.
He left school at 14 to join a troupe of comedians where he learned pantomime and acrobatics (which helped him doing a lot of his stunts in movies himself). Later he came to the US with a part of that troupe and pursued a most successful acting career. He is still regarded as the quintessential gentleman among the big Hollywood stars.

Marilyn Monroe was born in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortenson. She died in Los Angeles on August 5, 1962.
After a hard childhood in foster homes and an orphanage she went into pinup modelling first after meeting a photograph. This led to her acting career during which she was usually cast as the "dumb blonde".
Her private life was overcast by addiction and depression. Her death - even though ruled as probable suicide - is still topic of many conspiracy theories.
Until today she is considered a pop culture icon.

Graham Chapman was born in Leicester on January 8, 1941. He died in Maidstone on October 4, 1989.
After appearing in several comedy revues at Cambridge where he earned an M.D. he decided that he wanted to be a comedian instead of a doctor.
He was member of the comedy group "Monty Python" that is unforgotten for their sketch show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and their movies, but also wrote for other TV shows and movies.

Audrey Hepburn was born in Brussels on May 4, 1929. She died in Tolochenaz, Switzerland on January 20, 1993.
After WW II she went to London to attend a ballet school with the goal to become a solo dancer. Due to malnutrition during the war she had to give up that dream and started modelling and appearing in musicals instead until she was discovered for film.
In the 50s and 60s she starred in highly successful movies, then mostly retired from the screen. She spent her last years working for UNICEF as special ambassador.

Katharine Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 12, 1907. She died in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, on June 29, 2003.
She started acting in college and got small roles on Broadway after she graduated, then film offers started to roll in. After some success her unconventional behavior influenced her career for a few years, but then she came back even stronger, often starring along her later partner Spencer Tracy, and became one of the greatest actresses on screen.
She still holds the record with receiving four Academy Awards.

Elizabeth Taylor was born in London on February 27, 1932. Sie died in Los Angeles on March 23, 2011.
Although she was born in England, her parents were Americans who relocated to the US when war threatened Europe. 
She started out on screen as a child star and was considered one of the world's great beauties even as a young woman.
Beside for her many movies - the most memorable ones being from the 50s and 60s - she was also known for her turbulent private life, her love and knowledge of jewelry and not to forget her engagement for causes like her AIDS Foundation.

Christopher Lambert was born in Great Neck, Long Island, USA on March 29, 1957.
When he was two, his family left the USA for Switzerland because of his father's assignment as a United Nations diplomat, later they moved to Paris where he went to the Paris Conservatoire.
After small roles in French movies he landed the title role in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, two years later he appeared in Highlander (with the wonderful songs by Queen).
In recent years he has worked as a producer and played in action movies.

Margarete Steiff was born in Giengen an der Brenz on July 24, 1847. She died in Giengen an der Brenz on May 9, 1909.
As a toddler of 18 months she fell ill with polio which led to her being paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for life.
Determined to overcome her limitations, she became a seamstress and set up a felt business. The breakthrough came with little felt elephants she gave away as pincushions, but which proved to become popular toys for children. This was in the year 1880.
She designed more felt toys and in 1892 the first illustrated catalog was printed. Later her nephews joined the company, with Richard being the creative one who designed many more toys, now also in mohair and other materials, among them the beloved teddy bear, but who also was active in other things like photography for example.
To this day her heritage lives on, not only in children's toys, but also in collections around the world.

Freddie Mercury was born in Stone Town, Zanzibar, on September 5, 1946. He died in London on November 24, 1991.
He started piano lessons at the age of seven. When the family moved to England, he joined a blues band while studying. Next he joined a band which finally metamorphosed into "Queen" who released their debut album in 1973 and wrote rock history not only through their songs, but also their amazing stage and video performances.
In the mid-80s he started concentrating on his solo career, one of his projects being the collaboration with opera diva Monserrat Caballé for "Barcelona".
Just 24 hours after publicly announcing that he had AIDS, he lost his struggle against the disease.
He will be remembered as one of the greatest rock legends of all times.

Terry Pratchett was born in Beaconsfield, UK, on April 28, 1948. He died in Broad Chalke, UK, on March 12, 2015.
At the age of thirteen he published his first story in a school magazine, ten years later his first novel.
In 1983 the first novel in his incredibly successful "Discworld" series was published. The comic fantasy series is now 41 books strong and available in translations all over the world. It is funny, satirical, philosophical, scientific and often picks up modern and historical issues. It has been adapted for TV, theater, games, and more.
There are several companion publications like short stories, scientific books and reference guides.
He also wrote several children's books.
After being diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's he started a campaign for raising awareness of the disease.
According to his website he died peacefully at home, with his pet cat asleep on the bed. Not long before he had finished his last Discworld novel.

Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston, UK, on June 16, 1890. He died in Santa Monica on February 23, 1965.
His father was a Vaudeville performer, so Stan became a performer, too. He joined Fred Karno's troupe where he was an understudy to Charlie Chaplin. The troupe went on a tour to the USA, but he came back to England right away and only went to the USA again a few years later where he became an actor, writer, and director of comedies.
Years later he and Oliver Hardy became a team and made movies for over 20 years. In 1950 they retired from films, but went to England then to appear in stage shows.

Klaus Nomi was born in Immenstadt on January 24, 1944. He died in New York on August 6, 1983.
He was a countertenor with a wide voice range and known for his "alien" appearance with unusual costumes (one of them inspired by a performance as backup singer for David Bowie), heavy make-up and his signature hairstyle. He sang own songs as well as covered others, but also included operatic pieces in his performance.
In 1973 he moved to New York where he became involved with the East Village scene. Reactions to his performance in "New Wave Vaudeville" in 1978 were so positive that he was invited to clubs all over New York City.
After his first band broke up, he went on to perform live with models, singers, artists, and musicians and gained some followers mostly in New York and France.
As one of the first celebrities he was diagnosed with AIDS, a disease almost unknown in these days. His ashes were scattered over New York.

Pernell Roberts was born in Waycross, Georgia, on May 18, 1928. He died in Malibu, California, on January 24, 2010.
After flunking out of two colleges he gave acting a shot. His first experiences were on the stage, then he had some minor movie roles before becoming the oldest Cartwright son Adam in the show "Bonanza", the second longest running TV Western. He left the series after six seasons, however, displeased with the writing and direction of the show.
After a not so successful period he landed the role of Trapper John, M.D., in the show of the same name, a character which had originally been introduced in the M*A*S*H books, movie, and TV series.
A man of strong principles, he also fought against racism and sexism all his life.

Carrie Fisher was born in Burbank, California, on October 21, 1956. She died in Los Angeles, California on December 27, 2016.
She was most famous for her role of Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars movies, but also appeared in other movies and wrote several semi-autobiographical novels. 
She was also known for speaking openly and publicly about bipolar disorder and addiction both of which she struggled with.

Jim Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, on December 8, 1943. He died in Paris on July 3, 1971.
After graduating from the film program at UCLA and drifting into the hippie scene he met Ray Manzarek again, a former classmate. When seeing Jim's poetry Ray convinced him to put together a band with him - The Doors (Jim as singer, Ray as keyboarder, Robbie Krieger as guitarist, and John Densmore as drummer).
Facing legal problems Jim moved to Paris where he was found dead in his apartment at the age of 27, a death that is still topic for conspiracy theories.

Gene Kelly was born in Pittsburgh on August 23, 1912. He died in Beverly Hills on February 2, 1996.
He was enrolled in dance classes as a young child, but was also an accomplished sportsman. After several Broadway roles he was offered a movie contract and finally had his breakthrough as a dancer on film in the 40s.
He became famous for his athletic dancing style and his innovative dance numbers in unforgotten movies like Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris.
After interest in movie musicals faded in the 60s, he turned to television and in the 80s he mostly retreated from acting with a last movie part in Xanadu except for small television appearances.

Jane Goodall was born in London on April 3, 1934.
From early childhood she was fascinated with watching animals and her dream was to go to Africa which she first managed to do in 1957. There she met famous anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey and got hired as his assistant.
In 1960 she went to Gombe in western Tanzania to study wild chimpanzees and as her work became more widely known, she earned a PhD in ethology at Cambridge University.
She founded the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation and Roots & Shoots, a programme for young people.
Until today she travels the biggest part of the year to speak about chimpanzees, the environment and humanitarian issues.

Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan on July 10, 1856. He died in New York City on January 7, 1943.
He was an engineer and inventor whose best known achievement is his work regarding the development of alternating current (AC) electrical systems.
When he came to New York, he worked for Edison first, but not only did Edison refuse AC and claimed only direct current (DC) was safe, he also was a businessman while one of Tesla's visions was to provide unlimited and free energy for everyone.

Donald Duck was "born" on June 9th, 1934.

Actually there are doubts about his real date of birth, but I'll stick with the official Disney announcement. June 9th was the day the first cartoon with Donald came out, The Wise Little Hen.
There is not much Donald hasn't done, and he has been absolutely brilliant at some of those things before crossing the line that leads to chaos. This is probably one reason why people - certainly I - can relate to him so much. His life is filled with up and downs, he throws the best tantrums, but in a very lovable way.
Clarence "Ducky" Nash was Donald's best known voice, and Carl Barks, the "good artist", created some of the greatest Donald cartoons which is the reason for my choosing one of his paintings for my pattern.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. He died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849.
He was a poet and short story writer, still famous today for being one of the original writers of the horror and detective genre.
His personal life was marked by being orphaned as a small child, having a fall out with his foster father, losing his first wife, and struggling with depression and alcoholism before dying at an early age after having been found unconscious in the street for which the reason may have been rabies.
As one of the first Americans he became a major figure in world literature and is still known and popular for many of his works.

Sidney Poitier was born in Miami on February 20, 1927. He died in Los Angeles on January 6, 2022.
He was a native of Cat Island, The Bahamas, and was sent to Miami at the age of 15 to live with his brother. At 18 he went to New York and was accepted to the American Negro Theater on the second attempt. A few years later he had to choose between the stage and the screen. The performance in his first movie led to more roles, but it took a few years before he got roles as leading man which was still hard for an African American man at that time.
He was the first African American who won the Oscar for best actor in a leading role.

Poitier stayed active both on screen and on stage and also for the Civil Rights Movement.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933. She died in Washington, D.C. on September 18, 2020.
She graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959 and later became the school's first female tenured professor. She is known for being an advocate for the fair treatment of women and also worked with the ACLU's Women's Right Project.
In 1980 she was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in 1993 she became the second woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla, California on April 5, 1916. He died in Los Angeles on June 12, 2003.
While at UC Berkeley he decided to change his focus from pre-med to acting and enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York to go on to Broadway and, by 1943, to Hollywood where he got known for heroic, larger-than life roles in movies that became classics of the screen. For his performance as lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird he received the Oscar in 1963.
He was always politically progressive and engaged in causes like anti-war protests, workers' and civil rights.

Rowan Atkinson was born in Consett, England on January 6, 1955.
While attending university he met screenwriter Richard Curtis with whom he wrote and performed comedy.
Since then he has acted in both TV series and movies. His probably best known characters are Mr Bean and several members of the Blackadder family from different decades.

Madeline Kahn was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 29, 1942. She died in New York City on December 3, 1999.
She began acting in high school and later earned a drama scholarship for university. After earning her degree in speech therapy she also went on to study singing in New York.
Some of her most successful parts were in several of Mel Brooks's movies, it is said that he was able to bring out the best of her talents.


  1. I'm in awe of your talent and creativity. Look forward to seeing more of your portraits.

    1. Thank you so much, Michele! This is a project that's very dear to my heart.

  2. Cat, these are amazing! you have put a LOT of work into this! Well done. xx

    1. Thank you, Gayle!
      I have to admit every time I look it, it puts a smile on my face.

  3. Took another peek at your fan wall. It is so fabulous. Love the recent additions.

  4. Such amazing work! I'm ashamed to say that I haven't looked at them closely until now... Brilliantly done and really interesting to read about each character.

    1. Thank you so much, Jenny!
      You remind me I really need to clear my loom off and get back into the flow with this :-)

  5. Cat, I'm still blown away by your fan wall. The little biographies are so informative. Do you have them printed on the back? These are collector's items!

    1. Thank you soooo much, Gayle!
      I never thought about adding the biographies to the portraits. I don't even have them on my German blog anymore because Blogger just deleted my text in a hiccup and I didn't have the patience to do it again for both pages (I'm always saving it now and I really should put it back in German as well).
      The idea is a good one, though. Maybe I can put a note inside.
      Thank you!

  6. Wow! Love all of these. Many of my favorites are here. Learned about some new ones too! Thank you. for sharing.