James Leonard has emerged as one of California’s leading abstract
expressionist painters. Born in American, Leonard grew up in Nashville,
Tennessee and has always been drawn to the early expressionists of the
1930’s and 40’s. The German painter Gerhard Richter has had an
influence on his style, approach and directness.
Working with acrylics on canvas, Leonard uses bold horizontal and
vertical strokes and strong color to reach into the viewer’s emotions.
His paintings can have thirty to forty layers. “Most artists work
from the outside in, the subject is outside of themselves. I work from
the inside out,” says Leonard. Most artists work with brushes;
Leonard works with an extended palette knife. “I’m pulling paint,
layering one layer at a time, which creates a sense of history in the
painting. It’s like looking at a fence post that’s been repainted over a
period of time. You can see the different colors and layers.”
Leonard’s compositions are entirely non-representational and move the
viewer’s eye vertically and horizontally across the space. This basic
movement is complicated by layers of dripped, speckled and fragmented
colors that infuse not only a rich language of color, but also a visual
history left to be discovered by the eye as it moves across the
surface. Leonard’s inventive layering process results in heavy impasto,
or textured, surfaces with a glossy, wet shine making them particularly
beautiful when seen in person.
“Art has always been the focus of my life,” he says. “Just as our lives
unfold in unique and beautiful ways, so do my paintings have their own
unique and individual expression.”
Great art is such a surprise. It’s so enchanting, so delightfully
unexpected and unpredictable. In order to create that, you have to drop
the concept of imposing what you think it should be, and allow the work
to evolve in its own way. That requires all the skills of listening,
allowing, learning to quiet that part of our mind that is constantly
telling us how things should be. For me, that’s the essence of
creativity.”- James Leonard
Leonard has been creating a new series which he calls his
Transformational Series. He is using acrylic paint, creating a
sculptural effect. Inspired from his magnificent garden, it is a very
fresh approach that we have never seen before. Dale Chihuly sent him a
note complimenting one of his new paintings.
James Leonard’s powerful paintings can be found in private and corporate
collections throughout the world. He has received awards and honors
from museums and juried exhibitions.
Jones & Terwilliger Galleries is proud to represent James Leonard’s
abstract paintings in Carmel and Palm Desert, California.