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I first knew of Leon when he was briefly a high school student in Somerville where I
taught.   Neither Leon nor I had any idea
that he would go on to be a sought after artist.  Leon can be  found most days at his Navasota, Texas, gallery, The Color of Life, which is within Tejas Antiques, or out front on the sidewalk with a canvas painting.    Leon has been joined by his daughter Molly Bee in his painting.  Each does paintings separately and together.


“The inspiration comes from my great, great grandmother...the will comes from God.”

Leon was born in Galveston.  At the age of four, he was sent to live with relatives in Baton Rouge.  At eight he moved to Beverly Hills to live with his mother.  Each summer he was sent to Brazoria to stay with his great-great-grandmother, “Big Mama.”  “Big Mama,” who lived to be 114, told him stories which he recorded in his Big Chief notebook.  When Leon’s mother passed away, Leon moved from California to Navasota where his mother’s sister lived.

“If God gives me my sight back, I’m going to start painting again.”

For two years Leon’s daughter Molly Bee was his caretaker when he was afflicted by brain cancer in 2005.  In 2007, his sight returned.  He kept his promise to God.

Before returning to his art, Leon spent time as a picker for Tejas Antiques.  Duane Garner, owner, saw some of Molly
paintings and quickly sold them at his shop.  Both Leon and Molly Bee were quickly in the art business. Word of their “folk” art quickly spread.  Their paintings hang from coast to coast.  Recently Rice University recognized their art with the exhibit The Color of Life.

"Ninety percent of my work comes from God and Big Mama.”


The Color of Life

Tejas Antiques

207 East Washington Ave.

Navasota, Texas 77868


Angels and More Gallery

The French Market
108 W. Washington Ave.
Navasota, Texas


Leon’s and Molly Bee’s Updates:

Leon and Molly Bee Collins will  be part of the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival April 10-13.