Mary Leonard, local artist and author, shows off her book, “God’s Little Princess; A Child’s Abstract Journey,” amid a display of her paintings at the Coupeville Library. She will be available for book signings at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Salty Mug in Coupeville. Photo by Dan Warn/Whidbey News-Times

Local artist, author guides abstract journeys

It isn’t unheard of to find Mary Leonard onstage with a symphony orchestra, layering her brushstrokes in time with the movements, using the vibrations and hum of the drums to capture the essence of the music within her abstracts.

Leonard, a Coupeville artist and author, said she has performed live paintings for symphonies, churches and retreats. She says it’s one of her favorite things to do — especially when accompanied by music.

“As you’re putting a drum pattern in, on some of the paintings you’ll actually see the rhythm of the drums,” she said. “If you’re on stage all that percussion coming at the canvas — the canvas is actually shaking.

“It’s so cool.

“As the horns are going, you’d put a more red or purple or something that’s really intense. As it’s soft you may go into a pink, and the wave pattern that you put on the canvas is different.”

Leonard she said enjoys performing her abstracts so much that each of the 27 illustrations in “God’s Little Princess; A Child’s Abstract Journey,” a children’s book she wrote and illustrated, were painted on stage.

Leonard said that her own journey with abstract painting began when she was child.

“I was 12 years old and I was very much into painting,” she said. “It was kind of therapy to really find out where I was going and heal things that were happening to me, so I was pretty young.”

The journeys that Leonard takes with abstract paintings are so powerful, that she now teaches others to take similar journeys, she said.

“I train people … how to get more in touch with their spirit, how to get more in touch with God’s spirit and how to put that into a painting.” Leonard said.

She asks clients to sit and focus within themselves, aiming to shut out all outside distractions. Next, she asks them to meditate on a feeling, as represented by a color.

“We deal with feelings …” Leonard said.

“Does it feel like purple? Does it feel like pink? Does it feel like blue? And then we put a shape of purple, of pink, of blue onto the canvas. We’d put layer on top of layer. When you get done, a lot of times the painting will almost speak to you.”

Just as the illustrations and words in her book are designed for children to take an abstract journey of their own creativity, Leonard said she has designed her workshops to help clients make new, creative discoveries about themselves.

“You’d be surprised at what shows up (on the canvas), and what kind of adventure you can go through,” she said. “It’s a vision quest. It’s really a vision quest.”

While Leonard teaches people to paint and feel in the abstract, she described a decidedly concrete benefit to her program.

“It think one of the benefits is you’re living in the moment,” she said.

Leonard has shown her paintings, including those in her book, at art museums in Japan and in venues throughout the United States. In addition, several of her paintings are displayed at the Coupeville Library, where one can also check out a copy of her book.

“My art is all about taking a journey to yourself,” Lenard said. “For me, I like to go inside and bring that out in painting.”

Leonard will hold a book signing 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Salty Mug in Coupeville.

• Visit www.2mea.com to view selections of Leonard’s art, to find of list of vendors carrying her book or to schedule a workshop.