Skip navigation




I don’t know why I like working on a background that has marks on it already. The above two paintings were drawn and created on watercolor paper that I had “grunged” with coffee, ink, and applied gesso to in advance. Here is a post that describes the process.

It is not just the challenge of working on a surface that has been disturbed that I find interesting. It is examining the marks and finding a subject that they work with or discovering new ways of working with or around abstract marks. It is seeing that all these marks can increase the feeling of depth in some paintings.

The top painting is Teddy, my dog. The bottom one is a self portrait.


  1. Both portraits are so expressive. The lines in the background of Teddy’s portrait give him energy and makes it seem like he is moving or shaking his head. Alternately, the black lines on your portrait seem to give your face a pensive look and the black lines make me think that you are thinking of something serious or heavy.

    I like the foliage seen from the window. Maybe indicating that while you are thinking or doing something serious it will be better. (I’m suddenly breaking out into the song “The sun will come out tomorrow.”) πŸ™‚

    Great paintings.

    • You are so good at interpretation, Carol. I saw the same thing in both portraits with the lines… Thank you for that. Ha! I was sitting at my kitchen table when I shot that “selfie”. The window is at the end of the front hallway and the foliage are the two vines that grow up my trellis at the front door…. Very cool that you noticed that because I debated as to whether I should leave it in or not. πŸ™‚

  2. Lovely works Leslie, I agree and think that these pre marked random lines later determine the character and the subject itself, it is also a process of intrigue and curiosity about the final output.

    • Thank you for that Padmaja. I do think the grunged surface and the marks inspire me to paint outside the box and get my mind off perfection. Thank you for this comment. I like what you said about the character being determined later due to the marks.

  3. Really nice paintings and I like the splotches that add interest.

  4. Really expressive self portrait.😘

  5. Hello Leslie.
    Intense self portrait.

  6. Two very naturalistic poses. I’ve always struggled with those exercises where you incorporate marks on the paper into the pose. Teddy looks gorgeous!

  7. I really like you self portrait Leslie. So natural. Teddy is a cutie. Nice to see you!!

  8. Love them both. Grunge seems kind of like painting over spatter. I guess you have to see what it pulls you.

    • Thank you, Ruth. Yes. I agree. The disturbed surface suggests what to choose for a subject. Then, it pushes and pulls you by making you see new things in your previous vision of what you are drawing and painting. It also determines how dark or light to apply the paint or other media. Sometimes collage or the use of gesso is required.

  9. Both fantastic!! Way to go! I’ve always found it difficult to paint a white dog!!

    • Me too, Isabelle. But! I had a good teacher that taught me all about contour and feeling form and that the only way to show form was to include value….. A white dog or cat or horse is like a white canvas. You just have to mess with them a bit and find the contours and shadows. πŸ™‚ Thank you for this comment!

  10. It is very interesting knowing that these were painted onto pre-distressed paper – you do like to challenge yourself! I can’t imagine every trying this as I find it difficult enough doing a straightforward painting. You’ve somehow managed to work with the marks in a way that totally enhances the subjects – and I agree with Carol, that it makes Teddy look as if he is moving.

  11. You are so talented! Beautiful work!!

  12. I like the messy but professional look.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: