“The inspiration comes from my great, great grandmother...the will comes from God.”
Leon was born in Galveston. At the age of four, he was sent to live with relatives in Baton Rouge. At eight he moved to Beverly Hills to live with his mother. Each summer he was sent to Brazoria to stay with his great-great-grandmother, “Big Mama.” “Big Mama,” who lived to be 114, told him stories which he recorded in his Big Chief notebook. When Leon’s mother passed away, Leon moved from California to Navasota where his mother’s sister lived.
“If God gives me my sight back, I’m going to start painting again.”
For two years Leon’s daughter Molly Bee was his caretaker when he was afflicted by brain cancer in 2005. In 2007, his sight returned. He kept his promise to God.
Before returning to his art, Leon spent time as a picker for Tejas Antiques.
Duane Garner, owner, saw some of Molly Bee’s paintings and quickly sold them at his shop. Both Leon and Molly Bee were quickly in the art business. Word of their “folk” art quickly spread. Their paintings hang from coast to coast. Recently Rice University recognized their art with the exhibit The Color of Life.
"Ninety percent of my work comes from God and Big Mama.”