Stories and Memories of Leon Amyx

Leon Painting in 1945.

Leon Amyx at Hartnell College, 1950.

Leon Painting in the 1960s.

In Honor of Leon Amyx - The Hartnell College Scholarship Foundation

Leon was a beloved teacher of nearly 40 years at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.  He inspired thousands of students in his classes, including many that went on to become artists. A few of his more well known students at Hartnell College have included photorealist Ralph Goings, and cartoonist Eldon Dedini. Following his death a scholarship was setup at Hartnell to support students in the arts.   More Info:

Painting the Emeryville Dump

Listen to the Audio Recording of a 1990's interview when Leon shared a memory of painting the Emeryville Dump in 1937. 


Cartoonist Eldon Dedini spoke of Leon as a father figure and mentor.

In the documentary Dedini: A Life of Cartoons, Eldon Dedini, one of the greatest American cartoonists and one of Leon's students, speaks of Leon as a father figure and mentor.


Dinner gathering with Millard Sheets and friends

Leon joined Millard Sheets and CCAC instructor Hamilton Wolf for a dinner with other students at the apartment of Alex Nepote. Also at the gathering were Ray Wilson, Lous Moulthrop, Al Atwel.

Leon was a student of Millard Sheets at U.C. Berkeley during the summer of 1937, and he also had studied with Hamilton Wolf the previous summer at CCAC.

(Leon is standing, 2nd from the left)

American Photorealist painter Ralph Goings, spoke fondly of Leon Amyx as his mentor:

Excerpt from an Oral History Interview with Ralph Goings, 2009 Sept. 10-11, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

     Interview with Ralph L. Goings 
     Conducted by Judith Olch Richards
     At the Artist's home and studio in Santa Cruz, California
     September 10 and 11, 2009

Excerpts from the interview:

Ralph Goings speaking of Leon Amyx:  "Somehow he and I connected right away, and he sort of became my mentor. He made me sort of an assistant. It was a one-man art department in those days. It was a pretty small school. But he made me a sort of assistant, and he would invite several advanced students on weekends to go out with him on sketching trips, you know..."

"I signed up for a semester class with him when I first started there, and by the end of that first semester, he was talking to me about going to art school - of, you know, finishing up in the junior college and going to art school. And he was encouraging me to look into the possibility of what was then called the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. It's now California College of [the] Art[s]."

"And, as I said, he sort of gave me a part-time job as assistant to him in the department. And, you know, he just was - I think the thing that really helped me, aside from the technical stuff that I learned from him, was that he - he never talked down to me. I always felt that he was talking to me as another artist, not as a teacher-student situation, because when we would go out on sketching trips and so on, he would always - you know, he would always look at what I was doing, but he talked to me about it as though I was, you know, an artist on the same level as him, not somebody who was a dumb student that had to be told what to do, and I guess that really attracted me to his ideas."

Correspondence with Clarence Hinkle

Leon had a personal “master/apprentice” relationship in the early 1940's with Clarence Hinkle, a well known early California artist, teacher, and mentor to Millard Sheets. 

The following is a quote from Leon's handwritten biography: 

 “In the Early 1940’s I met Clarence Hinkle. He was first cousin of my father-in-law. We visited in Santa Barbara, and corresponded. He analyzed his paintings for me as well as mine. What I learned from these meetings, and correspondence, was unique and invaluable. He told my wife. 'Leon is paint hungry', and he proceeded to feed me.”

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