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  • Louis and Charles

    92.7 x 76.2

    acrylic on masonite

  • Paul with Toki

    76.2 x 94

    acrylic on masonite

  • Paul in a Scarf

    51 x 61

    acrylic on masonite

  • In a Dark Window (self portrait)

    62.2 x 63.5

    acrylic on masonite

  • Afternoon Tea

    71 x 67.3

    acrylic on masonite

  • Alan at the Gate with Three Dogs

    94 x 73.7

    acrylic on masonite

  • Leroy in a Blanket

    51 x 48.2

    acrylic on masonite

  • Leroy in a Blanket 2

    61 x 61

    acrylic on masonite

  • Dark Figure Undressing

    77.5 x 76.2

    acrylic on masonite

  • Kathleen at the Door

    61 x 62.3

    acrylic on masonite

  • Fiona with Anemones

    61 x 66

    acrylic on masonite

  • Nuala Sitting

    45.7 x 61

    acrylic on masonite

  • The Bay Tree

    64.8 x 64.8

    acrylic on masonite

  • Man Undressing

    77.4 x 76.2

    acrylic on masonite

  • Shawn with a White Cat

    66 x 99.1

    acrylic on masonite

  • Brigid on the Telephone

    76.3 x 76.3

    acrylic on masonite

  • Brigid

    71 x 68.5

    acrylic on masonite

  • In the Park

    76.2 x 76.2

    acrylic on masonite

  • Hetty

    75 x 53.9

    acrylic on masonite

  • The Yellow Dingy

    76.2 x 81.3

    acrylic on masonite


As an illustrator with ambitions to be a painter, I found the contemporary art scene of 1960’s London somewhat confusing and hard to connect with. What I was looking for was something to fire my imagination and perhaps give me direction. To my surprise I found it in the work of an abstract painter, Robyn Denny. A set of his screen prints made magical use of close-toned colour in a format of standing rectangles and I wondered if such effects could work for figurative pictures like my own. (To some degree, my subsequent paintings were an attempt to find out). I put close-toned effects to radical use in an early self portrait, In a Dark Window 1970  and used similar effects in Leroy in a Blanket 1970, Under a Tree; Alan with the Dogs 1972  and several others.  As well as adding a note of ambiguity, this tonal restraint served as an antidote to the high impact, high key sensationalism of a commercial world I was aiming, eventually, to leave behind.

For years I had been attracted to painters in the Realist mainstream of American art such as Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper (and was encouraged to learn that, like me, both Homer and Hopper had spent some time working as Illustrators early in their careers). I was also drawn to some of their successors, in particular the photorealist Richard Estes whose complex, cityscape reflections in plate glass windows inspired me to embark on a series of window pictures of my own. My pictures, however, were smaller and simpler and tended to include figures. In a Dark Window 1970  and Winter Cactus 1973  both contain figures that, on closer inspection, turn out to be reflections. However the people in Holiday House 1973 and Tempest 1973  are solidly present, sitting quietly indoors half hidden by reflections of the world outside.

Later I came to admire a quirkier group of North American realists sometimes referred to as Lyric Realists. Among them were George Tooker, Jared French, Alex Colville and Paul Cadmus. Alex Colville I encountered in 1983 at the Private View of my One Man Show at Fischer Fine Art, London. (Some years earlier his daughter Ann had modelled for one of my paintings, Girl in the Hall 1977). Paul Cadmus I met at Lincoln Kirstein’s house in Connecticut and in 1984 I made a drawing of him.

© Michael Leonard