Chris Baker: Figurative Paintings with a Playful Approach

Published Apr. 11th 2012

Originally from West London in the United Kingdom, Chris Baker began his journey toward figurative painting as an illustrator and caricaturist. Upon refining those skills, he then turned his attention to portraiture.

One thing’s for sure—whether using oil, gouache, graphite, or watercolor, Chris has the talent to morph anything into a fun-filled, charming work of art.

Take a look at this first painting, entitled Mongolian Meeting. To me, it seems to be a combination of portraiture and a sort of vivid, lifelike cartoon.

mongolian meeting

Earth tones abound as brilliant light streams freely through cracks in open windows and doorways, outlining these hard-working people. Their rapt attention to a European translator is frozen in time, ever apparent in their cocked heads and concentrate gazes.

Just as these figures try to make sense of a different culture through their translator’s words, with the same intensity I study this painting intimately to draw out every last aspect of their lives.

Taking a different approach, Joanie is a humorous gouache caricature depicting none other than the infamous English actress, Joan Collins.

You may know her from the television soap opera, Dynasty, and even though the show has been long since canceled, Joan’s dramatic flair and colorful personality have definitely not been forgotten!


With red lipstick perfectly matching her fitted, scarlet dress and martini in perfectly-manicured hand, this caricature depicts a flashy woman as rebellious, free-spirited and beautiful as her lively soap opera character.

mimiFinally, to the left is a portrait drawing of another artist, Mimi Yoon, done in graphite pencil on Arches hot-pressed watercolor paper.

The softness of this piece is what initially drew me in to take a closer look, as well as the intriguing close crop of Mimi, which is narrow and long, even more so than most portrait compositions.

Beautiful white highlights found on her delicate features, such as her lips and the reflections in her eyes are meticulous enough to make this drawing look like a photograph (not to mention the intense contrast between those light points and her dark hair). However, it’s the sharp lines on her jacket’s zipper and the intricate detail in shading her chin and neck that really bring Mimi to life.

An artistic portrayal of an artist—it doesn’t get better than that!

For more wonderful caricatures, drawings and paintings, don’t hesitate to check out Chris’ website.

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