OMG! This Local Artist Turned Down $5,000 and Still Made Paintings for the George Clooney Movie

One of the 14 pieces Colleen Winning painted for Up in the Air
One of the 14 pieces Colleen Winning painted for Up in the Air
In the annals of Who's Come Within Inches of George Clooney, I have another tale to offer. This one comes from Colleen Winning, an artist based in Washington, Missouri, who got thisclose to the hottie-about-town when she was invited to visit the set of Up In the Air last month.

Better yet (in my mind, anyway), Winning also got an embrace from Clooney's fellow star, Jason Bateman. See that thar' photo.

And she turned down $5,000 for the opportunity! How so?

A few years ago a production designer for the film Saving Shiloh rented a bunch of furniture from Winning's husband, a manager at the Rent-A-Center in Pacific. The designer, now a movie art buyer, Cat Cacciatore, returned to see Roger Winning at the Rent-A-Center when she came back to town recently for Up in the Air and happened to ask if Roger knew any artists. His 26-year-old wife Colleen turned out to be exactly what Cacciatore was looking for.

Colleen Winning paints moody scenes that she mostly sells on eBay. Cacciatore wanted fourteen of them for the Clooney movie. Winning says Cacciatore offered to pay her $5,000. Or, Winning could lend the artworks to the film - gratis - and get her name in the credits. "I couldn't pass that up!" she says. 

Winning got a copy of the script and painted scenes to match what she read: "a lot of blues and grays, sticking with the sad, cold colors," she says.

Last month Winning visited the Up in the Air set downtown at the old General American Life building. "While they were filming no one moved a muscle or spoke, and as soon as you heard, 'Cut!' everyone scrabbled to another position. The atmosphere was very similar to being at a wake for a funeral. They pretty much did the same scene over and over again until everyone was blue. Clooney was being goofy and making faces at the camera. I was very impressed seeing my work through the monitor as they filmed and just thinking, wow, I did that!"

Winning got to eat lunch with the cast and crew. That's where she said her quick hello to Clooney and bantered with Bateman.  "He's a really down-to-earth kind of guy. Really nice. And really good looking."

Winning says she'll get the paintings back when the movie is done filiming. Of course, she plans to sell them.

Colleen and Jason - Courtesy Colleen Winning
Courtesy Colleen Winning
Colleen and Jason

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