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Don't worry if you can't afford it, just paint it instead...
AT first glance it’s the home that has it all.
There’s a dream motor parked in the garage, a rolling English country garden and woodland birds in a rainbow of colours perched in his baby girl’s nursery.
But take a closer look and you’ll find it’s all actually a clever illusion.
Meet Chris Smart, the man who has created an ideal world for his family – using nothing more than a paintbrush.
When Chris pictures his perfect surroundings, he doesn’t let the fact he can’t afford his wish list get in the way.
The 34-year-old does what any artist would do – spends hundreds of hours creating it instead.
“I see nice things that inspire me, anything that takes my eye, and I know I can try and create my own version.
“When I see something nice, I think I can just fake it with my own materials.
“It doesn’t bother me I can’t afford something, it’s much more fun trying to make it! I can make things that cost thousands for the real thing for next to nothing, it’s just very labour intensive.”
His two bedroom flat in Bishopstoke showcases the fruits of his labour. It is filled with his creations from vintage Louis Vuitton-style designer trunks worth £4,500 he has crafted from waste materials found in a skip, replica World Cup trophies that the football fan has made out of gold leaf and realistic paintings he has spent hours perfecting in each room.
In the bathroom there are images of cherry blossom up the walls with hummingbirds.
In baby Bonnie’s nursery, which used to be Chris’ work room before he converted the loft, there’s a giant mushroom Chris has created, a custom-made chest of drawers with realistic birds painted on, and a mural on the wall with coloured leaves with owls and cartoon birds.
“Bonnie tries to grab them off the wall but hasn’t figured they are only painted on,” he laughs.
Walk out the front door, which is lined with reflective tape cut in circles to look like bubbles when the lights are off, it doesn’t stop there.
As previously reported in the Daily Echo, Chris couldn’t afford a rare 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at a staggering £15m – so instead he painted one on the front of the garage. The realistic three-dimensional scene makes passersby slam on the brakes for a double take or stop to take photos next to it.
And it doesn’t just feature Chris’ dream car. There’s a depiction of Harry Potter’s broom, a KFC bargain bucket, a paint pot with his name on it and even a naughty calendar tucked away behind a step ladder.
Around the corner, Chris has an answer for the shared garden being just ten-metres squared.
He’s painted a beautiful Victorian garden scene featuring a traditional greenhouse on a wall giving the impression the garden stretches over miles. Even that has some funny additions in the background including tiny dinosaurs in Jurassic Park scenes.
“It’s better than looking at a boring brick wall and our neighbour enjoys sitting out there with a cup of tea,” he says.
The garden features bird tables he has customised to look like the gold memory cabinet in Harry Potter.
He’s even asked the vicar of the nearby church to paint the unsightly oil tank like an old medieval tomb.
And his talents don’t stop there.
For his dad Keith, who used to play for Southampton FC, he decorated his shed with a Second World War scene complete with realistic Spitfires and Hurricanes.
And he’s also painted another of his famous garage murals of a traditional Romany gypsy wagon – before he was asked to paint a real wagon’s interior and exterior.
Chris, who enjoys using all types of mediums, says: “I paint all the time.
I’ve always got something on the go, always busy making stuff or painting.
“I’d give anything a go.”
His passion for painting began aged just four, and his mum Nairisa, who inspired his passion for art, still has a book of dinosaurs he drew.
Aged ten he got his first oil paints and would draw portraits of himself from looking in the mirror.
“I’ve always been able to link my hand to my eye and just draw,” says Chris who went on to study art at Barton Peveril College.
“A lot of my mates would go off down the park and drink, I’d stay in and do painting and drawing!”
Remarkably though he works as a full time customer service worker and only dreams of becoming a full-time artist.
“A lot of people do say I should be doing it for a living but I say I’ve got a mortgage to pay and I need to earn that money.”
But that will never stop him creating things.
It just means he has to wake up early.
“My mind’s constantly thinking about what I can do next.
“It is tempting to transform every white space in the whole flat but Kerry has to rein me in.”
Kerry laughs as she agrees: “He’s always creating something. It’s just nice he can create things and Bonnie can say her daddy made it for her.”
For information on Chris’ work go to facebook.com/chrissmartart
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