Color, light and luscious painterly brushstrokes have long characterized the works of California artist, Leslie Toms. The intense color and sunlight of the west coast, along with the influence of the Society of Six, Bay Area Figurative painters and other contemporary northern California artists, gives her art its singular character.
Born and raised in the quiet suburbs of Sacramento, Toms’ interest in art began at a very early age. This passion progressed through college degrees, a graphic design career, numerous commissions, awards and exhibitions to a full time pursuit of painting. Her early years as a working artist were primarily dominated by printmaking. Here she made significant contributions to contemporary mixed media printmaking including experimental color processes, photo based and three dimensional prints. These earlier works showed an emphasis on color & abstract imagery. Those years of artistic training and experimentation in color and design eventually gave way to painting. While working at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento she fell in love with the paintings she walked by each day. She has studied with some illustrious painters: Wolf Kahn, Gregory Kondos, Charles Sovek, Harrold Gregor, Joseph Raffael, Ann Toulmin Roth, Jerald Silva, Wayne Thiebaud and others. She counts among her friends some of California’s best painters.
In search of subject matter she often travels, working on location to complete studies which are later refined in the studio. These travels, stored safely in the memory of each canvas, emerged when she abandoned the abstraction of printmaking for the lush landscapes and cityscapes that have become her signature. Maintaining that her work defies precise classification Toms describes herself simply as a colorist painter. Utilizing manmade structures invitingly juxtaposed with the natural environment she heightens the experience using a unique color sensibility to describe her vision. “I love life and I paint what I love most about it . .. that life is full of color and always changing.” This enthusiasm for the world around her and willingness to test its limits shine clearly in her art. Her deft use of color, light and composition compels the viewer to share that spirit.
Inside Arden – September 2018