Leon Kirkman Amyx

Leon Amyx (1908-1995) was a native Californian who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. For most of his life he lived, painted and taught in Salinas, California and in the surrounding areas of Monterey County. He was known for his Regionalist style of watercolor painting.

Leon’s career in art began at San Jose State College where he completed his BA degree in art in 1931. In 1941 he earned his MA in painting with Millard Sheets at Claremont College. In 1936 He became the first art instructor at Hartnell College in Salinas. He taught full time there until his retirement in 1972, and continued to teach part time at Hartnell until 1976. His courses included oil painting, watercolor, drawing, design, art history, and ceramics.

In addition to his four decades of teaching at Hartnell, he also taught courses at the University of the Pacific, San Jose State University, Sacramento State University and the Claremont Graduate School.

Leon was an inspiration to two generation of art students, many of whom went on to be successful in the arts fields. Students in his classes have included Wayne Thiebaud when Leon was teaching summer school at Sacramento State, as well as photorealist Ralph Goings and cartoonist Eldon Dedini at Hartnell College, both of whom spoke of Leon as an important mentor in their careers.

Leon Amyx’s work is represented by:
Amyx Studio, Morro Bay. CA



  • 1908 Born on Dec. 20th in Visalia California.
  • 1925 Moved to Niles, CA. with parents.
  • 1931 Graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A.
  • 1931 Married Elvira Gossett and settled in Salinas, California.
  • 1932 First born child - Diane.
  • 1934-36 Summer studies at the California Arts and Crafts under Xavier Martinez and Hamilton Wolf.
  • 1936 Second born child - Chester Leon.
  • 1936 Began teaching art at Hartnell College in Salinas, their first art instructor.
  • 1937 Summer studies at U.C. Berkeley under Millard Sheets and Erle Loran.
  • 1938 Summer studies at Mills College under Leon Kroll.
  • 1939 Participated in the Golden Gate Expo at Treasure Island.
  • 1940 First one person exhibition at Vera Bright Gallery in San Francisco.
  • 1940-42 Studied at Claremont Graduate School under Millard Sheets and Henry Lee McFee.
  • 1942 Completed work on his Master's Degree under Sheets. Exhibited 38 paintings from his thesis at Claremont College.
  • 1942 Became a member of the California Water Color Society.
  • 1943 Painted several scenes of "guayule" (an alternative source of rubber), depicting propagation and planting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • 1943 Won First Prize at the Monterey County Fair.
  • 1944 Won Silver Medal at Oakland Gallery. Painting traveled throughout Latin America in an exhibition organized by the San Francisco Museum of Art.
  • 1949 Won 1st Prize at the Monterey County Fair.
  • 1949-59 Taught summers at Sacramento State College, San Jose State College, and The University of the Pacific.
  • 1951 Held a one man show at the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento.
  • 1952 Won 1st Prize at the Monterey County Fair.
  • 1954/60 Auto trips to New York to sketch and study in museums.
  • 1957-58 Studied ceramics with Paul Soldner at Claremont Graduate School.
  • 1960s Numerous one-person watercolor shows throughout California.
  • 1962-63 On a sabbatical leave he traveled, sketched, and photographed in Europe.
  • 1972 Retired from teaching at Hartnell College.
  • 1973 Purchased another VW Camper and again traveled and sketched throughout Europe.
  • 1973 Solo exhibition at Pacific Grove Art Center.
  • 1973 Retrospective show at Hartnell College, with 67 works representing 42 years.
  • 1977 Father and Son (Chester Amyx) show at the San Luis Obispo Art Center.
  • 1979/81 Solo exhibitions at the Carmel Art Association.
  • 1988 Santa Barbara Museum of Art Exhibition: "Regionalism - The California View".
  • 1995 Amyx Family Exhibition at the San Luis Obispo Art Center, with son Chester, grandson Kirkman, and duaghter-in-law Guyla.
  • 1995 Died in Auburn California.
  • 1995 Memorial Exhibit at Hartnell College, Salinas California.
  • 1996 Hartnell Memorial Exhibit purchased and installed at Tanimura Antel in Spreckles, CA.
  • 2019 Mini-Retro at Art Central, San Luis Obispo
  • 2024 Monterey Museum of Art - "Harvesting California" Exhibition.

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