Leon was born in Southern California in 1959. Early in his youth, he found himself especially interested nature and read all he could about naturalist like John Muir who captured young Leon’s imagination. In his early adolescent he came across a small box containing his father’s painting supplies and a few of his paintings that had been stored away after his father passed away. Though Leon’s father died when he was too young to remember, Leon felt a connection with this humble box of paints that he knew his father once used. Ultimately, this was a life changing event for him: Leon decided he wanted to paint, too.
At the age of twelve, Leon enrolled in his first painting class and discovered that he possessed a natural talent which soon evolved into a lifelong passion for art. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in Orange Coast College and later transferred to California State University at Long Beach to study fine art history, painting and sculpture. As Leon gained ever increasing amounts of knowledge about painting and the historical heritage of all art genres, his appreciation for fine art and skill as a competent artist flourished. The periods of art that inspired him the most were the 17th century Dutch, the 19th century Impressionist movement and artists of the 20th century. While many young men of his age idolized sports figures or rock stars, Leon’s idols were the likes of Jacob van Ruisdael, Pierre Bonnard and Albert Bierstadt.
After he completed his time studying the academic side of art, Leon was ready to start his career as an artist. Everyone is familiar with the cliché of the “starving artist” but there is much truth to it since very few painters are able to make a living from their painting income when they first break into this career. Early on Leon held a variety of art-related jobs while he continued to paint such as picture framing, restoration work and art instruction to individual students.
Commissions for his art both large and small came in from private and corporate patrons. Leon, being an avid outdoorsman himself, enjoyed producing paintings that depicted wildlife and sporting genres for a small sporting art gallery in Southern California. Soon after he was approached by a large publishing company to manage their fine art serigraph studio. For Leon this not only turned out to be a new career in art but also a unexpected continuation of his education. He was instrumental in the production original fine art serigraphs by renowned artists such as Eyvind Earle, Robert Peak and Peter Max. In addition to the serigraphs, Leon produced cartoon sericels for studios such as Walt Disney, Hanna Barbara and Warner Brothers.
Leon continued to paint and be inspired by his travels while he was involved in producing serigraphs for other artists. After being a front-runner in the fine art serigraph business for over a decade, Leon decided it was time to take the plunge and pursue painting full time. He set up his studio in the beautiful northwest part of the United States and continues today to paint and grow as an artist.
With so much experience in the world of art Leon has learned the importance of hard work and an open mind. He keeps his work fresh and spontaneous by painting subjects that are near to his heart but is always willing to try something new. In some cases customers purchasing commissioned artwork will request subject matter that Leon has yet to try and this opens a door to explore new genres long after the commissioned painting is complete.
Leon looks forward to hopefully more years of painting the beautiful places that inspire him. When time allows, Leon attends gallery showings and enjoys meeting the people that collect his work.
Mary Martin Gallery I is located on 103 Broad Street, Charleston, SC 29401 843-723-0303
Mary Martin Gallery II is located on 122 Market Street in Charleston, SC 29401 843-640-3324
Mary Martin Galleries have been selected as the best galleries in South Carolina for nine years in a row and in the top 25 in the nation, Also, selected as the best gallery by several local publications.