The master faker of pictures preparing for Mike Leigh's film about JMW Turner

 

Mike Leigh is the latest director to require artist Charlie Cobb's services, for his new film about the great British artist JMW Turner, currently shooting in the UK. Cobb has churned out many fake Turner paintings for the still untitled film, due out in 2014, in which Timothy Spall plays Turner.

Some of his fake Turner paintings are so big they're sticking out of the tarpaulin roof of his studio, although he assures me they're fine because with oil paint it doesn't matter if they get wet. But what does matter to him is doing research and using the right materials to recreate the look of the famous artist's paintings.

“Quite a lot of the historical pigments were toxic, like chrome yellow, and have therefore been phased out. Instead I had to buy the pigments in powder form and grind them in oil, just as the likes of Rembrandt would have done,” explains Cobb. “Then to age the paintings, I had to put a yellow glaze over them, and mix the paint with grime to make them appear dirty.”

Cobb is probably not a name you've heard of, but you will almost certainly have seen the artist's work in many films. Entrenched in a refugee-camp-style studio in his back garden, he has produced art and craft work for a wide variety of films from Star Wars and Trance to The Queen. He is always on standby – often having to produce artworks super-fast.

Leigh is renowned for working off the cuff, getting his actors to improvise, which keeps the cast on their toes, but proves especially challenging for the production team.

“In the spirit of this spontaneity, I produced several Turner paintings in a short space of time, which was actually how Turner worked, quickly wet-on-wet,” says Cobb. He was required to do a similar process for Danny Boyle's art heist film Trance, in which the Goya painting Flying Witches is stolen. “I actually went to the Prado Museum in Madrid to see the painting and understand how Goya built up the layers of paint.” For one scene in Trance where James McAvoy's character dreams about a room full of famous stolen paintings, he visited the office of the Art Loss Register in Hatton Garden where he was provided with reproductions of the stolen paintings.

Cobb's extensive portfolio also includes creating model Star Wars spaceships out of foam board for Revenge of the Sith; painting Helen Mirren's regal portrait for The Queen, which is finished off by actor Earl Cameron in the film, and creating the painting that Bill Nighy saves in Richard Curtis's The Boat That Rocked.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before