Leon Parson has spent most of his life in south-eastern Idaho, just "over the hill" from Jackson Hole, Wyoming and "down the road a bit" from Yellowstone National Park, an ideal place for a wildlife artist to live.
Involved in art and biology since childhood, Leon is a firm believer in education. He has acquired three degrees over nine years of professional study: an Associate's Degree in Arts and Sciences, majoring in Life Science and Art; a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA; and a Master of Fine Arts from Syracuse University. His masters thesis was on the history of wildlife art with an emphasis on Carl Rungius.
Leon is self-disciplined and has been very successful in the art world, having produced over 80 magazine covers. He has received numerous awards and honors, including: The First Arts in the Park best wildlife painting in 1990, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Artist of the Quarter, and also their 7th Anniversary print in 1991, and Utah First of State Waterfowl Conservation Print in 1989. Recently he has been commissioned by the United Nations to do four postal stamps for an endangered species series. "The Veteran" print received The President's Choice award at a recent S.C.I. show in Illinois.
Regarding painting Leon says, "I feel that true art and the goal of true art should be communication: visual, intellectual and emotional. To be successful, that communication must stimulate the emotions of the viewer, not just their intellect. But once that intellectual response is made, if there is not any feeling created, the painting is dead. Emotions are what make art 'live.' True art must stir the heart and reach deep into the soul of the viewer if it is going to last. Achieving that is hard. In addition to processing all the artistic technical skills and a good selection of reference material, it requires that the artist must already have that emotional understanding himself before he can hope to stir it in another. There are a lot of very good artists out there, so I need to go the extra mile if I'm going to gain any kind of an edge. That is why I pay my dues outside as much as I can. I need to know animals lay in the wet fall grass and listen to a bull elk sing his song. I need to watch an old "mossy horned" buck, head low, sneak away through the bottom of a ravine, or watch morning's first light turn the grey-green pines into a brilliant orange, or see what the snow does each year to change the forest's complexion. If I'm not out there living it, how else can I say it honestly in art? That quality can only come from personal, firsthand experience." Leon states, "The best wildlife artist are people who have 'been there,'".... people, for example, like Leon Parson.