16" x 20"
Self-taught Navajo painter and sculptor Leland Holiday has consistently created art in which he finds great joy. With this eagle painting, Leland expresses the Navajo belief that eagles are intermediaries between the real and the spirit world. These powerful fliers aid in communication with deity by carrying messages to the upper realms. Leland’s painting is a bold and aggressive expression of a raptor focused on invaluable aid to a worthy people.
As a young boy, Leland was inspired by the paintings of his uncle, Howard Holiday. He started doing pencil drawings when he was seven years old. Thirsting to learn more about art, he started checking out library books. He loved seeing the work of Picasso, Jackson Pollack, and Georgia O'Keefe, but was especially blown away by the work of Jean Michele Basquiat.
In 1990 when he was sixteen years old, his mother brought home a set of acrylic paints. Leland would start painting in the morning and become so caught up that he would forget to eat. His days were filled with the joy of expressing his artwork. He would use anything he could find for materials; spray paint, house paint, found wood, old fence posts, practically anything that provided a surface for his exciting palette of colors. He surprises himself by changing the shading or colors. He never thinks about what someone may think of his work, whether or not they will like it.
Because of the carvings he was creating along with his brothers, he was almost immediately categorized as a folk artist, yet he felt he had much more to offer. About three years ago when he pushed to expand his expression, collectors were afraid to move with his changes and for some time he struggled internally and financially. Fortunately, that battleship finally turned and he is once again enjoying the freedom of painting his personal vision of color and expression.
His wife and family have been his greatest source of encouragement. He doesn't quite know why he creates the work that he does. He simply feels compelled to create. He feels there is a long road ahead, a good road with great opportunity for expressing his individuality.