Several years ago I became acquainted with Leon Holmes through the Plein Air Artists site run by a good friend, Don Maier. Leon is from Perth, Australia on the far west side of that faraway continent. I’ve always admired his work and his knack for self-promotion. It’s not over the top or offensive, just rather smart. He spends most of his time now in Munich Germany smitten by a young gal that he is now engaged too. I’ve often invited him to stay with me if he was ever in the states and he took me up on that late last month on his way to the Forgotten Coast Plein Air Event.
I picked him up at Hartsfield/Jackson Airport on a Monday night the 30th of April and put him up for a few days before he left for the show in Apalachicola. Of course, I wanted to go along, but it’s an Invitational and no one invited me! Leon met Lori Putnam at the similar Art in the Open Festival in Ireland last year. She thought he might enjoy it and she was right. We’ve been back and forth with emails for several months arranging the details and came up with a plan . Since I could not attend, I found a fellow painter David Boyd who lives just South of Atlanta who was also attending, and we
made arrangements for Leon to catch a ride with him down to Florida. In between, we spent a day getting some painting boards made. Using my new table saw we cut up several sheets of mahogany ply and instead of covering them with the canvas as I do, Leon opted for sanding them and using a few coats of warm-colored shellac. I’ve heard of this but never tried it— It certainly was easier and cheaper. I was busy but I work out of my house and even though we didn’t get much chance to paint together we had a good time working on the preparations for the show. Of course, I was insanely jealous—10 days painting along the Gulf Coast in Florida! It’s something I’m working toward—maybe next year. Everything worked out well and we were able to drive down the night before and drop him off at David’s house in Newnan. Boyd is a heck of a painter —I knew all about him because I’m a plein air nerd and discovered his blog and web site years ago. He uses a mix of brush and knife in a lot of his recent work that gives it a unique look. If it’s possible he’s even more of a maniac than I and has had a lot of recent success—rightfully so. I hope to get down to Newnan for a painting visit soon.
So I packed Leon off to Florida and got back to my everyday work. Each day I checked in to the Facebook page and the web site for news about the events going on. Leon was an instant hit of course. His easy, relaxed manner and creativity won the day, and then there’s that hat! After winning the Quick Draw he proceeded to paint nearly two doz
en works and sold most of them. Honestly, I think he shocked a lot of the more established painters. Dave too did very well and when they reluctantly returned home I made my way down to pick Leon up for his return trip to Europe.
Of course, he was as excited as I was for him. We spent that morning painting in Newnan before we left garnering even more success when the owner of the house we painted bought both our paintings on the spot. So we both were flying high as we got back to Marietta in the afternoon. The next day I played hooky and we went painting at the falls on Vickery Creek. After dinner and a few beers in Roswell, we both did night street scenes just down from the restaurant. Wednesday I arranged a ride down to the Airport for Leon and about noon we parted with a handshake and a hug. It was my pleasure to meet Leon— thankful to call him a good friend and hope to see him next year.