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This is a colored pencil portrait that I completed from a drawing I had done of Tom at life drawing sessions. I wanted to see if I could finish a portrait, in color, from the knowledge I have  gained from spending time studying people. This was the end result.  I know it is always better to work from a subject, but sometimes they are not available for the amount of time it takes to finish something like this. I don’t think I could have done this with just any model. I have drawn and painted Tom more than any other model and I think that practice helped me with this.


After June’s comment this morning about leaving the background on the Tom in colored pencil, I decided to post this Tom as the devil where I darkened and sharpened the background. I had posted him on my blog earlier. I do think it is part of what attracts me to art; this activity where I can manipulate what I see!


  1. Very nice, especially when enlarged as it’s possible to see all your delicate handling of the lips and eyes. I also like the way you worked the background which isn’t too dark – something I always struggle with and often just leave out altogether because after all time spent on the face, it’s often easy to mess the picture up if the background is wrong.

    • You have a good eye. I argued with myself about the background thinking it should be darker, but I liked the soft effect I’d created around this Tom. I had painted him as the devil, previously, and thought I’d see if I could manipulate his image into something softer.

      • I’ve run out of superlatives – I love the angle on this one it makes him look more powerful. The inked lines (are they ink?)make it for me, they show off your drawing skills – but the brush work background and the way you treated the light and shade are FANTASTIC. You never cease to amaze me.

      • Thank-you, again, June. Yes. Those are ink continuous line from a continuous line drawing I had done from life. All the painting was created without the model. The background was several layers of darks after I finished painting the portrait. I took a flat brush and swished it up and down using just the tip of the brush. It created those sharp jagged shapes. I know you can do it. I just had to watch out not to go into my portrait with the brush while painting it.

  2. Yes, I agree with the soft effect. This is very nice!! For me, it sometimes helps a lot to finish a painting away from the subject. Because when I look at the subject,I see a lot of things, but when I go from memory, only the essential (hopefully :)) remains, and I am more focused on balance, harmony of colors, etc…

    • Thank-you, Isabelle. I see that in your work and admire your ability to say something from the soul. You have helped me to look for that in my work.

  3. What are his eyebrows really like, Leslie? 😉 I can’t help but wonder.. I like the first one, because of the colors. It has a kind of zen feeling to it 🙂

    • I smile at this question because it is so good. Tom’s eyebrows are most like the first one. I enhanced the second one to look like how I envisioned the devil to look. Tom usually grows a beard in the winter and at Halloween wore the horns to life drawing class to challenge us. His hair is straight and not bushey like I made them in the devil painting. Thanks for wondering!

  4. “horns”–those horns dramatically change “Tom”–whoa.

    • Tom is very creative, 47. He helps me to see things I normally wouldn’t when he does things like put on horns for Halloween.

  5. power to manipulate what you see, i like that.
    its true. you’re the creator

    • Sometimes I don’t like what I create. I try to see some value to accidents and make it work. Thanks for this, Kokot.

  6. Wow Leslie! Your extensive figure drawing experience reflects in your paintings. I am still a newbie in this area.

    • Hi Raji. I think you are doing a great job with your figures. One of them comes to mind of the lady in the water. Thanks for the comment, Raji.

  7. I really like the way you’ve used greens in the shadow areas – it brings his eyes out very well. And yes it’s restful and tranquil too, which is lovely. But I must confess – I like the devil Tom very much – there’s a sort of playfulness to it, ad I like the drama of the colours in the background and the stronger contrast between the lights and darks.

    • Guess what, Sarah? You may like the second one better because he’s from a continuous line drawing transferred to a sheet of watercolor paper. So the skeleton of this piece is continuous line and you do a lot of that kind of drawing. I like art of this nature, also.

  8. I’ve been going back and forth looking at both versions of Tom. Both so different, yet so interesting. Your pencil strokes on the top drawing are so light. And the watercolor is so vivid. Love the background in the 2nd one and the continuous line drawing. The background in the first one is soft enough to add a subtle cast on Tom, but doesn’t overpower him.

    • Thank-you for your observations,Carol. The play between the two was what I was thinking when I created the second one which was actually the colored pencil. I wondered if I could make him two different things even though I wanted to save some of his likeness. Sort of a Jekyl and Hyde thing.

  9. I like this work Leslie – I especially like the watercolour Tom – it is bold and strong.
    Here is a digression which you and Carol have raised:
    There is something that happens when I look at them both – about how we split people.
    The top Tom is clean and light but with a hint of something to beware. The bottom Tom is wild – (could that be a glow of flames?) but is real and more trustworthy. Like you know what you are getting but also with a softness you may not have expected. Melanie Klein said that we only grow when we put people (and ourselves) back together again. When we stop idealising and denigrating. We all have good parts and bad parts and accepting that is an act of love.
    In fact if I ever have to put this into a presentation I will come back and ask if I can use these two paintings – and your comment about Dr J and Mr H.

    • Thank-you for this neat comment, Stephen. I would be honored to have these images used for such a noble enterprise. It became fun to work on the same model frequently. Even though I had a semblance of likeness in all of them, there was something different I could do, or I saw something different. Maybe even, I, the artist, felt different and it came out in my work! WHOA!

  10. Tom makes a very good devil. I expect I will be meeting him soon. Ah, what the hell, I will be able to watercolor with Carol if the water doesn’t boil away.

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