Leon’s association with the Bay Area started with his attendance at San Jose State College. His instructor, Estelle Hoisholt, probably influenced his first watercolors. These first paintings were brightly colored, with very little mixing, as seen in “Coyote Creek”, 1929.
During the 1930s he returned to the bay area almost every summer to study with well-known artists at schools in the East Bay. One instructor was Erle Loran, author of “Cezanne’s Composition.” This introduction to Cezanne will show in later work.
But the most influential event was in the summer of 1937 working with other serious students in a watercolor class under Millard Sheets at U.C. Berkeley. Most of the students in this group would become well known in the California Watercolor Society.
Leon’s work at this point shows the influence of Sheets, in the use of deeper, richer mixed colors and a stronger contrast of values.