James Leonard



(b. 1949, American)



 



James Leonard has emerged as one of California’s leading abstract expressionist painters.  Leonard’s emotionally charged compositions, which at first appear purely abstract, often suggest embedded landscapes, figures, and objects. Working with acrylics on canvas or board, Leonard uses bold horizontal and vertical strokes and variegated color to suggest different moods, seasons, registers, art historic resonations, etc. While one work might convey a lacy, Rococo, light decorativeness, another might seize the viewer with high-contrast lights and darks and drastic strokes in a Baroque manner, deep with gravitas.  “Just as our lives unfold in unique and beautiful ways, so do my paintings have their own unique and individual expression. Most artists work from the outside in, the subject is outside of themselves. I work from the inside out,” says Leonard. 



Abstract Expressionism or Action painting, which had its beginnings in Surrealism in Europe of the 1930s, came to full fruition in New York of the 1940s and ‘50s in a group called the Abstract Expressionists. Influenced by the Surrealists, who had re-settled in NYC due to Germany’s occupation of France, this younger generation of Americans is responsible for giving the U.S. its first ‘home-grown’ school of international art. Just as Jazz music was the first totally American musical form of international proportions, so Abstract Expressionism was a uniquely American language of art, which influenced artists on every continent. Even Picasso had to retort with his near-abstractions of the 1970s!



Most artists work with brushes, while Leonard works with extended palette knives. “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.” In art-speak, this geometric depth of ground is known as ‘push-pull.’ What first appears as the ‘background’ may suddenly exceed to the forefront of the painting, while what a second ago seemed like the forefront, recedes. “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.”



“Leonard’s compositions are non-representational and move the viewer’s eye vertically or horizontally across the space.  This basic movement is complicated by layers of dropped, 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.” – Urban Tulsa Weekly, 2010



“There can be thirty or forty layers in one painting, creating the feeling of a ‘waterfall.’  As a final touch, Leonard employs a technique he calls ‘sgraffito’ – scraping lines through the upper layers, so the colors of the ground layers show through. It’s a technique that demands courage and conviction; one misstep can destroy an entire painting.” – Art writer, critic, and curator Dallas Faulkner


 



EDUCATION



1976     Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fresno State University, Fresno, CA





MUSEUM & JURIED EXHIBITIONS & PRIZES



2013     San Diego Contemporary Art Fair, CA



2012     Art Basel Miami, FL



2012     Bold Expressions International Exhibition, Carmichael, CA



2010     Andrews Art Museum, solo exhibition, Andrews, NC



2006     All-Abstract Show, Valley Art Gallery, “Second Place Award”



2005     Alameda Art Center, Contemporary Abstracts, Juror: Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle Art Critic



2004     San Diego Museum of the Living Artist, 47th Annual International Juried Award Exhibition, “Award of Excellence,” CA



2004     Albany Museum & Institute of History and Art, NY



2002     Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA



2001     Palm Springs Desert Museum, 32nd Annual National Juried Exhibition, “Artists’ Council Award,” CA



2000     San Diego Museum of Art, All-California Exhibition, “Silver Award,” CA



1999     The Artist's Magazine, “The Best of Art Competition, Experimental Category”



 



CORPORATE & PUBLIC COLLECTIONS



3-1 Corporation, Waltham, MA



Abry Partners, Boston, MA



Acadian Asset Management, Inc., Boston, MA



Adobe Systems, San Francisco, CA



Alumax Corp. Headquarters, Atlanta, GA



Andrew Spangler, Spangler Law P.C., Longview, TX



Appia Developments, Vancouver, Canada



Arthur Anderson, San Francisco, CA



Ascent Art Ventures, LLC., Dallas, TX



Axis, Hamilton, Bermuda



Biogen Inc., Cambridge, MA



Boston Stock Exchange, Boston, MA



Brookfield Power, Marlborough, MA



Brookstone Inc., Amherst, NH



Burns & Levinson, Boston, MA



CB Richard Ellis, Walnut Creek, CA



Cetrulo & Capone, Boston, MA



Color Kinetics, Boston, MA



College Park Music Dept., Pleasant Hill, CA



Computer Associates International, NYC, NY



Cornnuts Toasted Corn, Oakland, CA



DDJ Capitol, Boston, MA



Deloitte Consulting, Boston, MA



Driscoll Agency, Boston, MA



Dwyer & Collora, Boston, MA



Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA



Edwards & Angell, Boston, MA



Ellen O. Tauscher, Congresswoman, 10th District



Epstein Becker & Green, Boston, MA



Factory Motor Parts, St. Paul, MN



Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Vancouver, Canada



Fenway Ventures, LLC.,  Boston, MA



filmtwist.com, San Francisco, CA



Flanders, Douglas & Associates, Minneapolis, MN



Florida Credit Union, Tallahassee, FL



FM Global, Waltham, MA



FSP Phoenix Tower, Ltd., Houston, TX



Goodwin, Procter & Hoar, Boston, MA



Hadco, Canton, MA



Hale & Dorr Law Offices, Boston, MA



Harvard Vanguard Medical Assn., Boston, MA



Hyatt Regency, Vancouver, Canada



Hinkie & Foran, Tallahassee, FL



Hoffman Companies, Boston, MA



Inn At The Opera Plaza, San Francisco, CA



Interface Consulting Int., Houston, TX



Integrated Financial Partners, Boston, MA.



LOI, Inc., Boston, MA



Issacson Miller, Washington, D.C.



Jack Morton Worldwide, Boston, MA



Joule Unlimited, Inc. Bedford, MA



Kaiser Permanente Hospital, Vallejo, CA



Kim Copeland Productions, Nashville, TN



Larson-Juhl Corp., Craig & June Ponizo, Atlanta, GA



Lifoka Grafische, Den Haag, Holland



Loews Hotels, NYC, NY



Looper, Reed, Mark & McGraw, Houston, TX



Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA



Mathematica Policy Research, Washington, D.C.



Mayer, Brown, Rowe, & Maw, Washington, D.C.



Meany & Oliver, McLean, VA



MFA Moody, Famigliette & Andronico, Tewksbury, MA



Mirion Technologies Inc., San Ramon, CA



Mopar, Detroit, MI



Motorola Company, Dallas, TX



NASA, Stennis Space Center, Starkville, MS



National Development, Boston, MA



Pacific Union Real Estate, San Francisco, CA



Palmer & Dodge, Boston, MA



Pilko & Associates, Houston, TX



Prince, Lobel, Glovsky & Tye, Boston, MA



Sage Hill Partners, Cambridge, MA



Sanford Bernstein, San Francisco, CA



Schnaeder, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, Law Offices, Atlanta, GA



SCM Microsystems, Los Gatos, CA



Scudder, Stevens & Clark, Boston, MA



Shire Pharmaceuticals, Boston, MA



Simplex Inc., Boston, MA



Skadden, Arps, Slate, & Flom, Boston, MA



Sky Across, Tokyo, Japan



Soundboard Consulting Group, LLC, Boonton Township, NJ



Stonebridge Associates, Boston, MA



Summit Bank, Oakland, Walnut Creek & Emeryville, CA



Sunset Magazine Idea House, 1999



Symantec Corporation, NYC, NY & Cupertino, CA



Thomas Mizo Chadwick, Saylor & Co., Los Angeles, CA



Tisbury Capital, Boston, MA



Total System Services, Columbus, GA



Tufts Dental School, Boston, MA



Unicco, Auburndale, MA



USAA Law Offices, San Francisco, CA



Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, Rockville, MD



Wilmer Hale, NYC, NY



Wusthof Knives, Solingen, Germany



Xl Corp. Hamilton, Bermuda



 



CRITICAL REVIEWS



2012     Galleries West Magazine



             Valley Sentinel, Pleasanton, CA



2010     Artnews Magazine



             Urban Tulsa Weekly, Tulsa, OK



2008     Bottom Line, Palm Desert



2006    Contra Costa Times



2004    San Diego News



2000    Laguna News Post



1999    The Artist's Magazine, Best Art of Art: Experimental Category, “Honorable Mention”



            www.about.com



1998    The Santa Fe New Mexican



            The Guild



            Art Expressions Magazine



1997    St. Louis Post Dispatch



 



CAREER



1980 –1993     Art Instructor, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, developmentally disabled adults, Lafayette, CA



 



PHILANTHROPIC DONATIONS



USC/LAC Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA



HIV/AIDS Foundation, Houston, TX



Larry King Cardiac Foundation, Auction, Beverly Hills, CA



World Vision Inc., NYC, NY



Open Hands Project, Santa Fe, NM



Joe Morgan Invitational, Oakland, CA



Canadian Cancer Society, Vancouver, B.C.



Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation, Inc.



Summit Bank Foundation, Oakland, CA



Parkinson's Foundation, San Jose, CA



Make-a-Wish Foundation, San Francisco, CA



Sunnyhills Children’s Garden, San Anselmo, CA



Mt. Diablo Ballet, Walnut Creek, CA



Habitat For Humanity, Mt. Diablo, CA



Lycée Français, La Perouse, San Francisco, CA