The following information was submitted by Stephanie Reeves, and comes from the artist:I was born in Los Angeles, California, moved to Houston at age six, and went to the public schools and then to Rice at age sixteen.
At Rice, in the Architecture Department (there was no art department at that time) James Chillman had the greatest influence on me as to my sense of design, proportion, and the ability to see. I had freehand drawing, design, watercolor and art and architectural history from him.
As a fifth year student I started taking classes at the Museum of Fine Arts, and continued there after finishing at Rice. Having had a very strong academic training, which I wouldn’t take anything for, my earliest paintings and drawings (oils and pastels) were very realistic. They were mostly still-lifes, figure studies and portraits.
In 1949 I went to The California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco for the summer term. One of the guest teachers was Mark Rothko whom I had a class from. This was the beginning of a change from realism.
Sometime after this I did an imaginary girl in watercolor, which made me realize that I did have an imagination.
In 1960 on a trip to Europe the beautiful colored stucco buildings of Italy caused a change in my paintings. The colors became soft, blended and sometimes misty and I called them sky paintings because there was usually a sun or moon or both in them.
Some time after that I started to do imaginary moon faces.
About 1976 I started doing paper collages. They were small and great fun to do. And they in turn changed my paintings. Mixed in with some mistiness there were some hard edges, and the compositions became symmetrical.
I am still doing what I call sky paintings.
Leila McConnell is married to artist Henri Gadbois.