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It Started with a Pencil: Memoir, Leslie B. DeMille

This memoir of Leslie B. DeMille chronicles his passion for creating art throughout his life. He started at a young age with pencil sketches of the backs of heads of the people in front of him in church. Through the winning of three first place awards for his oil paintings at ages 11, 15, and 16, he was validated that this is the road he should take. In order to learn more about art and promote his work, he moved the family, his wife and five children, ages ten and under, plus the dog to California. Subsequently, he became internationally renowned for his work and inspiration through his galleries, workshops, and demonstrations. This story relates his accomplishments and the stories along the way.

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Leslie B. DeMille

Leslie B. DeMille, relative of the late movie director Cecil B. DeMille, is an internationally acclaimed painter and sculptor. A master portraitist for over 50 years, DeMille conducted workshops in portraits and still life in oil and pastel. He has created commissioned bronze sculptures, paintings, and limited edition prints for American statesmen, heroes, sports celebrities, corporate CEOs, university presidents, and entertainment personalities. Born and raised in Hamilton, Canada, DeMille won first prize in an art competition at age eight. His studies began at the Art Students League in New York and continued in California. In 1958, Mr. DeMille, his wife, Isobel, and five children moved to Southern California.

He was the owner of three successful art galleries over a seventeen-year span in Hawaii and California. Their first trip to Maui in 1970 was the beginning of a great love affair with the islands and local families who became close friends and associates. For the next 15 years, four to five months each year, Mr. DeMille set up his easel at the Sheraton Maui Hotel doing portraits almost every evening in the old upper lobby. He also had a gallery in the upper lobby for three years. In 2002, after 18 years, he returned for a short time to create portraits at the new Sheraton Maui Hotel. Although his regular portrait commissions ran in the thousands, he enjoyed this nostalgic return to again meet people from all over the world, giving them an opportunity to have their portrait done by a master.

In 1972 he was commissioned as the Naval Combat Artist for the US 6th Fleet stationed in the Mediterranean. He painted many of the men in action, as well as portraits of individuals.

In 1988, he presented a commissioned bronze sculpture, The Peacemakers, to President Ronald Reagan in the White House. The sculpture that commemorates the Summit Meeting and INF Treaty signing by President Reagan and then USSR General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev.

The artist captures the power and grace of professional athletes, earning him a reputation of The Artist of Champions. His sensitive, bold paintings of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Bob Hope, and Dinah Shore have been used for major tournament program covers and become highly sought-after in limited edition prints. Other major tournament art features Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara (1998 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am) and the Senior Skins Game in Hawaii, 2000, (with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson) shown during the tournament on international television. DeMille created the official painting and covers for the 1996 Phoenix Open/Superbowl XXX PGA Tournament and created 350 12-inch commemorative bronze sculptures for thePhoenix Open Superbowl XXX Charity Cup. In 1996, he completed a commissioned bronze sculpture of Sam Snead and a commissioned bronze of two golfers called Whatcha Think.

Throughout the years, his workshops taught interested artists his techniques. At age 88, he is now focused on getting his memoirs written, that many have encouraged for publication. Look for upcoming videos of how to use pastels to create portraits and paintings with DeMille's technique.

DeMille's message to all artists, "Keep on doing what you love, never stop learning. I never have! and you will be rewarded with a beautiful and fulfilling life!"

Quotes from a few who learned from Mr. DeMille

"THE ARTIST THAT MADE IT ALL LOOK EASY!  It was in the early 80's that my husband Bob and I first met the famous artist, Leslie B. DeMille at an art show in Death Valley, CA. Les was known for his dynamic portraits in pastel and oil. It was the beginning of a long lasting friendship with Les and his supporting and gracious wife Isobel. Years later, I invited him to be a featured artist at an IAPS Convention in Albuquerque, NM. He became an instant favorite to hundreds of attendees. I feel honored to have known Les in both the world of art and as a favorite personal friend throughout these many years. If you are looking for inspiration, dynamic works of art executed in the manner of a Master, It Started with a Pencil: Memoir, Leslie B. DeMille, is the both for you. Be ready to be enchanted with his colorful subject matter and style, from portraits, to still life, florals and kittens, as well as famous celebrities." - Unrania Christy Tarbet - PSA-IAPS Founder-President Emeritus

"I am proud to have your symbolic artwork for our future Presidential collection." – 1988, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States

"Clarity, talent, humor and fun. What an unbeatable combination for a teacher! My experience with Mr. DeMille was superb. His application of pastel is pure genius as is his ability to teach it." – Roger E. Salisbury, M.D., New York

"Leslie B. DeMille is undoubtedly the foremost portrait instructor in America. His class is filled with exciting and informative lectures, theory, and demonstrations, with a whole handful of humor thrown in. Mr. DeMille is a national treasure." – R. Bruce Duncan, Chicago Appraisers Association

"I have taken many workshops from prominent artists in the past. I learned more in one week with Mr. DeMille than in other oil or pastel workshops combined." – Diane Connor, San Francisco

"I have used his techniques for years in doing portraits, and I would, and did,  attend any class/workshop, that he would give.  I have always found his teaching and  his life interesting." - Howard Rafuse, Ontario, Canada 

"Mr. DeMille offers a warm learning experience for novice to professional artists. His knowledge of varied painting experiences and techniques are affirmed in his skill as a demonstrator. He is indeed a rarity in that group of exemplary instructors." – Patrick F. Escobar, Art Instructor