A SWINDON artist has sold two colourful celebrity portraits to hang in a New York collection.

Juano Diaz is a multi-media artist, painter, actor and also runs the 12th Dynasty Tattoo Studio which opened in the Brunel Shopping Centre.

He sold the two portraits for over £5,000 each - one of Madonna and another of producer and songwriter Pharrell Williams - to Mark Settember, a New York art collector and film producer.

“Mark is one of my biggest clients,” said Juano.

“They’re really colourful, big set pieces, really fantasy pieces.

“What I’m doing is I want to bring out their soul, more than their physical body.

“Rather than seeing a person I try to see the energies around them or their story, it can go a lot deeper than just a portrait of somebody.”

His adoption by a Romany Gypsy family near Glasgow gave Juano an interest in portraits and attracted him to Madonna, who is well-known for adopting children.

“Madonna has this amazing charity Raising Malawi and I wanted to do something to support it,” he added.

“Because I’m adopted myself when I was a kid, I started to work on it, she’s kind of like a saint walking through a fiery landscape.

“As a little boy in the children’s home they gave me a life story book, which is what you draw your story onto.

“So drawing faces was my thing, you want to hold onto the memory of who you’ve been with.

“My dad was really encouraging with the arts. There was a lot storytelling and mystique in the stories so that possibly rubbed off on me.”

The Madonna will be a full 75 inches tall when its completed and ready to hang in Mark’s collection.

It will join the one of Pharrell entitled Ice Cream Dream, a painted canvas mixed with a resin with sprinkles on top.

“It’s about the size of a door so it looks like a massive pink cake on his wall,” added Juano.

But painting celebrities for a living also requires a delicate touch.

“I have to be quite sensitive, because a lot of these people have worked for years on their image,” he said.

“So now I go back and speak with them and they know what I’m doing so I don’t offend them.”

Juano, who moved to Swindon two years ago after growing up near Glasgow, is working with photographer Andy Cox on a portrait of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and former Spice Girl Mel B. His portrait of Tracy Emin will be displayed at Oink Gallery and at 12th Dynasty Tattoo Studio.