Leon Holmes was not, by his own admission, a very attentive school student. “But the strange thing was” says Leon, “the punishment for misbehaving in class was a trip to the art room. I soon realised the more I misbehaved, the more time I got to spend painting.”
Born and brought up in Perth, Western Australia, Leon Holmes left school with excellent technical drawing skills but chose instead to start a four year apprenticeship with a screen printer. It was the ideal opportunity to learn and perfect the precise science of mixing colours. This was followed by a three year course in graphic design, illustration and art direction.
“I find that with painting, inspiration is everywhere. There’s no need to think up the subject matter for a painting. You just have to look around you.”
Leon has travelled extensively and until recently his portfolio remained distinctly Australian. Once quoted “I love this place too much to leave it.” Now finds himself painting subjects of seasonal Europe and Australia as he travels with his mobile paint box.
He paints in oils to quickly capture the essence of light. Using colours he describes as Pilbara red, Flinders blue violet and Australian gold as well as more conventional tones such as ultramarine, turquoise, pastel pinks and a range of light enhancing yellows and luscious greens.
“You have to be there and be a part of it. I’m forever looking at and studying my surroundings. I can’t even enjoy a simple sunset without studying some part of it.”
Leon rarely uses photographs to paint from, preferring to work Plein Air (on location) or from memory and sketches in his sketch book.
A recent showing at the ‘G’Day USA’ black-tie function and a commission for over 200 pieces for builder/developer Multiplex have raised awareness of one of WA’s most important artists to a point where his works are in demand by personal and corporate purchases.