Len Chmiel enjoyed a career as a successful commercial artist before moving to an old mining camp in Colorado in 1971 to concentrate on painting. Since then, he has been called an “iconoclast,” and his paintings described as “compelling.” Critics have compared his flower paintings and the openness of his work to the impressionistic works of Monet, Matisse and O’Keeffe. One reviewer wrote of his work, “The underlying elements of good design and good draftsmanship are there, but something makes you look at the painting, wonder about it, leave it and come back.”
Chmiel has taught at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Ketchum, Idaho; the Rocky Mountain School of Art and the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado; the Scottsdale Artists’ School in Scottsdale, Arizona; and the Disney Feature Animation Studios in Orlando, Florida, and Burbank, California.
In 1992, Chmiel’s work was featured in the Seven From Denver show sponsored by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. In 2012, Len Chmiel: An Authentic Nature, covering his 40 years of painting, was published. He received the Robert Lougheed Memorial Award at the 2018 Prix de West and the Wilson Hurley Memorial Award at the 2017 and 2019 Prix de West. In February 2020, he was the recipient of the Artists’ Choice Award for the fifth time from the Masters of the American West exhibition at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California.