MEAL TICKETS: 76-year-old pensioner Noel Leon paints for a purpose.
MEAL TICKETS: 76-year-old pensioner Noel Leon paints for a purpose. Paul Braven GLAARTS

Noel makes magic when bush and brush combine

NOEL Leon has been painting for 63 years.

The Gladstone man, who first took up  art as a joke, said he is now more passionate about making a profession out of his talent than ever.

"I began teaching the art to old ladies and I was quite popular, with more than 50 students in my classes," he said.

"But, as the years went on, I thought 'hey, I'm actually good at this' and it's become a hobby that pays."

Noel has painted more than 9000 paintings in his time and his art has taken him all over the world.

"I've been around the world 14 times because of this skill, and my highlight would definitely be painting 115 artworks in New York with some other great artists," he said.

Nowadays the pensioner paints on a slightly smaller scale.

"I start 10 paintings every morning," he said.

"I find it quite therapeutic, and it's landscapes that I really like.

"And, of course, being in Central Australia, anything with an animal in it really sells."

Mr Leon said he "gets a few bob" from his fortnightly pension, so the sales of his paintings were what kept him going.

"I get $50 per painting and the money pays for food in the fridge," he said.

"I've got three more to sell until pension day when I can buy more canvases and drive down to the Gold Coast in hopes of selling more."

One person who has helped Noel get by is Catherine Merritt, who she said she was compelled to buy one of his pieces.

"I thought to myself, our office needs more artwork, there's room for creativity here and, after hearing his story, I knew it was going to a deserving man," Ms Merritt said.



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