Leo McDowell was born and grew up on the edge of Ilkely Moor in North of England. Focusing on Yorkshire moorland landscapes, his early painting reflects his rugged background.
After reading Modern Languages at the University of Manchester and Cambridge there followed a year of studying History of Art at Innsburck University Austria.
Subsequently, McDowell spent eight years in the Middle East teaching and working with archaeological research teams on excavations in North Africa, Turkey, Cyprus and Jordan. He painted extensively during this period being influenced both by the Early Greek, Roman and Byzantine Art and by the Mediterranean landscape.
The work of Leo McDowell combines the beguiling naivete of these archetypal forms with a strong love of natural elements. His exuberant, innovative use of colour and dramatic bold textures are visually exciting.
Visions and symbols of antiquity are juxtaposed and interwoven with interiors, figurative images and views taken from nature. In particular, images of the sea, cliffs and sailing vessels are transformed and seen anew as McDowell experiments with colour and perspective.
The complex subtleties and ambiguities which are revealed by the colours and multi-layered technique have a distinctive poetic and dramatic effect.
Leo McDowell has exhibited extensively in England as well as in Paris, Geneva, Germany, California, New York and Japan.
In 1985 he was elected as a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour and in 1991 he was elected as Council Member of the institute.