Prime-time portrait for Groton artist

Tommy Slocum's portrait of Tim Robbins, who plays a character in the IFC series "The Spoils of Babylon."
Tommy Slocum's portrait of Tim Robbins, who plays a character in the IFC series "The Spoils of Babylon."

Tuesday night at the California premiere party for the new IFC miniseries "The Spoils of Babylon," one of the show's producers was expected to get a gift - of a portrait painted by Tommy Slocum.

Slocum, who lives in Groton, was commissioned by LeadDog Marketing to do the painting. It's of actor Tim Robbins in character as a family patriarch in the oil business, and it was to be given to producer/co-writer/director Matt Piedmont.

"The Spoils of Babylon," which airs starting Thursday, stars Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig and Robbins in a satire of 1970s miniseries about the wealthy. Will Ferrell also appears in the spoof and is one of the producers.

The connection between Slocum and "Babylon" grew out of a past contest he was involved with that was run by LeadDog. Last year, he designed one of five murals selected to be recreated on a city wall, in a publicity-garnering competition coinciding with the start of the FX drama "The Bridge." Slocum's was painted in New York City.

Caitlin Walsh from LeadDog contacted Slocum in mid-December about the "Babylon" portrait. They asked Slocum to email samples of his paintings, and they hired him for the project. (Walsh couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.)

Over the course of two weeks, he spent 25 to 30 hours on the oil painting, which is 30-by-40 inches.

In the photo Slocum worked from, Robbins is holding a glass that was empty. Slocum painted it that way - until his former professor Gerry Perrino suggested he paint some bourbon into the glass, which he did.

Slocum, who works as a tattoo artist at Twelve Tattoos in Groton, earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Salve Regina University, with an emphasis in painting and a minor in art history.

Slocum doesn't know why a portrait of Robbins' character in particular was selected as a present for the producer, but he was happy to paint a portrait of Robbins, who is one of his favorite actors.

"When you do something like this, a bunch of people have asked me about how much did they pay you? It doesn't really matter. It's one of those things where you just take pride in what it is you're doing. I'm fortunate enough - I work around great artists every day," he says. "Something like this is an honor to do. ... It's been fun."

k.dorsey@theday.com

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