Artist Interview: Ron Leone

Posted by Jenni Kirby - October 21 2022


You might say creativity runs in the family of Ron Leone. With an aunt who worked as a seamstress in Manhattan and a father who created marionettes in his free time, it was inevitable Ron would find his way into the arts. “My elementary Art Teacher, Leona Madson, was the first person to teach me to sew. I made costumes for puppet shows and always hung out in the art room.” Ron credits this early and lifelong support as a catalyst which propelled him into the arts. Upon his father’s passing, Ron even honored him by putting together a 200-page book of his art for his family. “My father’s craft was amazing…everyone always tells me I have my father’s creativity.”

Over the years, Ron has dabbled in a variety of media. Whether sculpting in Italy or painting and exhibiting his watercolors in New York, Ron always returns to sewing – his true love. “My motto has always been jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” Ron landed on quilting after moving from New York to Richmond for his husband’s job nearly 15 years ago. “I retired and said to myself, ‘what do people in the South do? They garden and can food, and they quilt.’ Since that moment, I have been canning food and quilting!”

Travel remains a key inspiration in Ron’s artistic work, evident in his recent Praiano Collection, inspired by a trip to the Italian Coast. “It was the pure vibrance all around me which inspired this new water-based theme I have focused on lately. Water has always been an inspiration to me.” From scarves inspired by Italian ceramics to quilts depicting scenes from the Amalfi Coast. “It’s really a feeling, I see a design, and have to act on it.” Ron’s creative process can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks when creating a new design. “When I’m designing, it’s almost like taking something and going abstract. When you’re planning a quilt, you may not realize how much math is involved!”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ron is taking a detour from the traditional quilting process and experimenting with abstraction. “I’m entering a piece in the next show at Crossroads which focuses on angled and curved lines. I’m trying more abstract work - it kind of leads back to water, waves, beautiful rolling hills.” While each project presents its challenges, Ron uses a trick from a former teacher to remind himself, “if it doesn’t turn out the way you want…change its name. If things don’t work out the way they’re planned, just change the name.”

Ron has since expanded from quilts to table runners, wine holders, scarves, microwave cozys, tote bags, and is always coming up with new designs. “I like that my work is very accessible. It’s art, but it doesn’t have to hang on your wall. My art can be in your microwave, or the center of your table!”