James C. Leonard
California-based abstract expressionist James C. Leonard says,
“Art plain and simple is something you find in your heart and bring out for the world to see.” Working with an extended palette knife and acrylics on canvas, he creates bold horizontal and vertical strokes in strong colors in order to trigger the viewer’s emotions. This basic movement is complicated by the inventive layering of dropped, speckled and fragmented colors that create a sense of additional depth.
Leonard says, “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.”
This layering creates a rich canvas that is ever new. His paintings have ambient landscape qualities and can have 30 or 40 layers in one painting. His final touch employs a technique called sgraffito— where he scrapes lines through the upper layers so the colors of the ground layers show through. The German painter Gerhard Richter has influenced his style, approach and directness.
“My work develops out of sense of appreciation that each painting will create its own life. My job is to enter into a relationship with the work, by listening to how and where it wants to develop,” he says. “Control is not the issue, respect and listening is. By allowing [this], I am not limiting the development of what is possible. The discipline is restraint, not imposing what I want or think the work should be.”
Leonard’s paintings have been exhibited internationally. His works also reside in private and corporate art collections across the United States and Europe.
Great Divide (diptych), acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 x 2"
Walking on Water, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 72"
Migration of Lives, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 72"