I had always been drawing since very early childhood. In 1957 , I enrolled in a commercial Art course with the London Art College. This course had obvious limitations but nevertheless was of benefit as i was encouraged by the comments of my tutor; consequently gaining a sense of direction as to how I should proceed in order to become a painter.
I began to study the anatomy of the human figure and drawing from life. As regards to my study of anatomy, I used books which I received through Monaghan County Library in Clones.
However, Art materials were practically non-existant in Clones during the 1950’s; nevertheless one shopkeeper informed me that she had a small box of oil paints for sale; and it was with this paint that I painted my first oil painting (1958) titled ‘Landscape with figure’.
However on having to find work, which I managed to do in a textile factory in Clones in 1959, my efforts at painting ceased; even though I still maintained my interest in reading about developments in Art. This interest continued during my years working as a supervisor in the textile factory; where I was also involved in various aspects of textile design. Then after getting married to Claire in 1966 I began to paint again.
My interest was to some extent stimulated on seeing some very fine paintings in the collection of a Mrs. Ellen McCabe. At this time Claire and I were living in a small mews flat on the grounds of Mrs. McCabe’s home ‘Sunnymeade House’. Some of the paintings were family portraits; but there was one Dutch impressionist painting by Johann Hendrik Van Mastenbroek and two large watercolours by Josef Israels. I was informed that these two watercolours were painted by Israels in preparation for his large oil painting ‘The Frugal Meal’ which I believe is in the National Gallery of Scotland.
I continued to develop as a painter while still working in textiles. However, when the factory closed down in 1967, I went to work in another textile factory in Portadown, Co. Armagh. It was in Portadown that I sold my first painting to a commercial outlet namely Edgar Antiques. I was also contacted at this time by another commercial outlet namely Pinewood Products who were involved in framing and selling fine Art prints through their gallery. However they also wanted to become involved in selling original oil paintings. They bought my work on a regular basis.
I returned to live in Clones in 1968 and began to paint on a full time basis; though my main outlet was Pinewood Products in Portadown. My work also became well know in Monaghan and Cavan because of various articles published in local newspapers and on three occasions in national newspapers. Because of this publicity I was able to sell my work privately. At this time, I was also selling the ‘odd’ painting to Combridge Fine Art in Grafton Street, Dublin. However, when the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland got very bad during the 1970’s my main outlet Pinewood Products in Portadown ceased. I continued to paint and sell through other outlets and to private collectors.
In September 1973, having passed a number of T.S.E. Art Exams and on the basis of being a practicing artist, I was offered the opportunity to teach Art (part-time) in my old school namely St. Tiarnach’s Secondary School in Clones.
When in 1993, St. Tiarnach’s Secondary School and St. Patrick’s High School amalgamated to becme a very large second level school namely Largy College, I continued to teach Art, Craft and Design.
It was during this period and having studied with the Open Univeristy for six years that I was conferred with a B.A. Honours Degree. My studies involved the History of Art (ancient & modern) Literature and Philosophy. I retired from teaching in 2005.
As regards my painting, I try to develop the composition of each work in such a way to avoid mere representation, even though the images and elements of each work relate to the area in which I live, and consequently convey a sense of place. My approach involves a search for formal arrangements of light, colour and shape.
1957 - 1962: London School of Art
1962 - 1968: Worked in a Textile company as Textile Designer
1968 - Professional Artist
1970 - 2006: Worked as Secondary School Art Teacher in Clones, Ireland.
1996 - 2000: BA Hons. Degree in History of Art, Literature & Philosophy
Leo Has exhibited in the following galleries:
1967-69: Edgar Antiques, Portadown, Co. Armagh
1968-70: Pinewood Gallery, Portadown, Co. Armagh
1969-71: Combridge Fine Art, Dublin
1969-73: Hackett Gallery, Dublin
1972-76: Goodwin Gallery, Limerick
1984-85: Baggot Gallery, Dublin
1987: Vision 87, Monaghan Co. Museum
1986 - 1997: Annabel Bowen Gallery, Dublin
1990-91: The Mall Gallery, Thurles
1998: Lambay House Art Gallery, Howth
He also exhibited at the;
Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, Co. Down
Carroll Gallery, Longford
Willow Island Art Gallery, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
Jorgensen Fine Art, Dublin
The Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
The Clan Art Gallery, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
The Apollo Art Gallery, Dawson St., Dublin
Adams Salerooms, Stephen's Green, Dublin
- Cadbury Ireland Ltd.
- Jury's Hotel Group
- Avondale Chemicals, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
- Jean Kennedy Smith (former American ambassador to Ireland)
- Barry McGuigan (Former WBC Feather Champion of the World)
- Monaghan County Library, Monaghan
- Ulster Bank, Clones