As an Impressionist, Wren is intrigued by relationships of light and color. He goes directly to the outdoors to get the truth. As a plein air painter he must move quickly to eternalize on canvas his impression of the fleeting moment. By skillfully placing colors side by side allowing them to blend optically, he is able to capture light, color, atmosphere, and the illusion of depth exceptionally well. His paintings are full of color and life, having a sense of controlled spontaneity and liveliness in his brushwork. In essence they are a reflection of him.
In addition to painting the beauty of the American landscape, Leonard enjoys traveling to new places to find inspiration. His journeys take him to locales such as Italy, France, Spain, and Jamaica. He is also intrigued with the wonderful light and variety in the landscape of Washington State, where he is building a new studio.
When Wren discovered Impressionism, specifically the work of Monet, he “began to see in a totally new way.” Despite having a young family to support, Leonard decided to pursue a career as an artist. He sought out a teacher who could help him learn to paint light and color, and every week for a year traveled from his home in Tulsa to Oklahoma City to study with Richard and Edith Goetz.
He quickly reached a point in his career where he was able to concentrate his efforts on his love of painting. In 1976, about a year after he began painting, Leonard closed his commercial design business, which he had owned and operated since 1964. After just a few years of painting, his inherent ability positioned Leonard as one of the leading American Impressionists.
Leonard’s style and choices of subjects allow the viewer to relate to the paintings. Rather than rendering a detailed depiction of a scene, his loose interpretive brushwork conveys a peaceful moment in time. He leaves the detail to be interpreted by the individual viewer, thus creating a familiarity to his work. In addition, by including evidence of human existence in the landscape such as a quaint cottage, an old bicycle, a sidewalk café, or a path through a quiet garden, his paintings invite the viewer to participate in the narrative. They are quiet intimate moments, movingly expressive, which “provide relief from the complexities of life.”
To truly create a masterful painting, one must paint what one knows and feels. To truly create fine works of art, the approach must be a pure representation of the artist’s ideas or emotions. Because Leonard spends so much time painting outdoors, he has become very comfortable and knowledgeable about the world around him. Finding beauty and inspiration virtually everywhere, Wren is able to communicate what moves him. Art purely and simply reveals his love of life. Leonard says, “Sharing joy is what it’s all about.”