I was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1936 where I graduated from East High School. I earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Northern Iowa and also pursued graduate study at The University of Iowa. I taught art in the Oelwein Community Schools, Oelwein, Iowa, from September 1958 through May 1965, before becoming the founding Director of the Charles H. MacNider Museum in Mason City, Iowa, A position I held from June 1965 until September of 2001.
A painter, exhibitor, and recipient of awards since 1956, I have shown in hundreds of competitive, invitational, regional and national shows and have been featured in 67 one-person exhibitions. My work is found in many public and private collections such as (a few e.g.s): Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art; El Paso Museum of Art; Des Moines Art Center; Sioux City Art Center; Charles H. MacNider Museum; Brunnier Art Museum, Iowa State University; Central College; Luther College; Hamline University; Rollscreen Corporation; The United States National Bank of Omaha; The Pillsbury Corporation Collection; CLTEL of Clear Lake and many more including individuals and families. My work has been represented by various art dealers, galleries and art centers throughout my career. Then in 2012, the MacNider Art Museum created and presented “Painting the Wind, Chasing the Seasons: Richard Leet, A Retrospective Exhibition Spanning Over Fifty Years of Creative Expression.”
I started out painting in oils, but by the mid 1970s watercolor had become my primary medium and remains what I am most know for today. And then, in 2010, I started to also produce pastel paintings which I am enjoying very much.
My pictures, usually in the form of landscapes or images derived from nature, reflect my appreciation for and curiosity about life and living, the forces of nature, and the energy that flows throughout the universe. They focus to some extent on the miracle of life, the cycles of natural phenomena, spiritual elements, and especially on the transitional state in which everything exists.
Having lived in Iowa and the Midwest all of my life I’ve done a lot of looking at the sky and ground around us. The urban and rural landscapes and especially the variety of experiences encompassed in the changing of the seasons have become ingrained in my understanding and approach to life and my art. The shapes, colors, lines, and moods of my paintings directly reflect my personal interpretation of what I know, see, and feel. I am a cloud watcher and always have been.