Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is one of my favourite artists. My tutor Richard introduced me to his work and it is the way he uses composition that attracts me the most apart from his hyper realistic work!! His work mainly focuses on the male nude figure and they way he uses composition and positioning of his figures makes them look in motion, even though there is no real physical movement. This is what appeals to me the most about Leonard’s work.

All of the following images have come from Michael Leonard’s official website


These are just some of the incredible sketches on paper which Leonard has created. You can see that the male figures he looks at are of the idealised male figure. They are almost always naked or with just their pants on.

The two sketches of the male hunched over and exposing his back are my favourite of his sketches. The back is one of my favourite parts of the body and his sketches are so relalistic and beautiful. I love the way he captures the motions of everyday life. Getting out of bed…removing items of clothing…it is all very simple but his art work is full of emotion and grace. The images give a sense of fluid motion which is really captivating!
This is the look I would like to achieve as I continue my work which will lead to my final piece of work.

It is obvious to the viewer that Leonard is intrigued and in love with the male physique as he renders them so exquisitely and beautifully.
Here are a selection of his paintings;

This is one of my personal favourites. Even though this is a still image, the way he has painted it and used the space the way he has creates a feeling of movement and that is what makes his work so lifelike and captivating.

Even though he uses males with beautiful physiques, they are still real to life. As with the above painting, the male here is in a position that allows his skin to crease up and the fact that beneath his jeans hides pale white skin where it hasn’t seen the sun. It really is like a photo.

I can see why he chooses to paint the models whilst in motion as it shows off the movement of the muscle and the skin over the muscle and the bones on the body. I like to sketch images where it looks as though the figure is actually moving or doing something. Because it makes things more interesting. I think this is why I have always shied away fro portraiture because I don’t find it nearly as intriguing or exciting as the human body as a whole.

I like the way he uses colour. They aren’t particularly bright but more subtle and very soft. Even reds and blues which would usually be quite apparent don’t take away the core objective of the body which is the main focus for the viewer

I took a statement from Leonard’s website which describes all of his work very well and gives an insight into the way he works;

In portraits I aim for a vivid presence, in nudes a sense of dynamism and animal grace, in still-life a harmonious but charged arrangement. In all my work observed reality is underpinned by abstract values.


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