Leon Makielski was born in Morris Run, Pennsylvania in 1885 and is family moved to South Bend, Indiana when he was a young boy. His art career began when he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago in his teenage years.
While studying at the Art Institute in Chicago he spent his summer months at Eagle's Nest Camp which was situated west of Chicago in Oregon, Illinois. Eagle's Nest was the most important summer art center in Illinois and attracted notable sculptors, painters and writers.
Makielski was awarded the Art Institute's John Quincy Adams Traveling Scholarship in 1908 to study in Paris for four consecutive years. While there he enrolled at the Academie Julian and the Grande Chaumiere, studied with Henri Martin and Richard E. Miller, and exhibited his work at the Paris Salons of 1911 and 1912.
He spent his spare time painting in the city's parks, on the Seine, and in the countyside around Paris, especially Giverny and Versailles. He also visited the museums of Italy, England, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Holland and Austria. He painted towns, cities, and landscapes along the way.
Upon returning the the United States he taught fine arts at the University of Michigan from 1915 through 1927 as well as other classes during his career.
During more than 65 years as a professional artist he created some 3,000 paintings and drawings. He became an accomplished portrait painter and painted many leaders of industry, government and academia. His portraits hang in numerous corporate, institutional, public and private collections. Makielski is listed with the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He is included in William Gerdts' book, Monet's Giverny: An Impressionist Collony (New York: Abbeville, 1993).