Life in Salt: Amanda McLenon – Artist and Marine Biologist Who Makes ‘Paint Swim’

by Carolyn Sotka

Blueheron Striper Chart

Great Blue Heron. Provided by Amanda McLenon.

Amanda McLenon is a passionate conservationist on a unique path. Her career has progressed from high school science teacher, to NOAA coral and Antarctica-based scientist, published author, to certified yoga teacher, fly-fisherwoman, and unexpectedly, a full time marine artist.

In 2009, she discovered her talent by reverse-painting a redfish on glass, which is still her most highly collectable work. Amanda’s artistic career has taken on a life of its own with commissions for fishing tournaments (2011 CFF RedTrout, 2011 Megadock, 2012 Carolina Billfish Classic) and invitations to exhibit at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and several galleries.

In 2012 she received the prestigious South Carolina Lowcountry Artist of the Year Award. This year she will combine her passions as a 2015 Ambassador to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program.


“Folly” Loggerhead. Part of Amanda’s South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Fundraiser.


Mahi mahi on antique map. Provided by Amanda McLenon.


Amanda McLenon in her happy medium between art and the sea.


Speckled trout over a map of North Carolina.  Provided by Amanda McLenon.

Celadon II 240 dpi - Orig 48x60

In Amanda’s own words: “I paint local wildlife on glass with a unique perspective intended to give them life, create a connection, and inspire conservation. My work is an eclectic display, all acrylic, from miniature antique portrait frames to wall-sized murals. Some demonstrate the ancient art of reverse painting, most portray birds and fish with a soul. Bringing these organisms to life, educating and encouraging empathy and environmental action, are my passions.”


Tarpon Lure. Provided by Amanda McLenon. 


Largemouth bass. Provided by Amanda McLenon.


Hand painted pillows. Provided by Amanda McLenon.

Check out Amanda’s Web site and shop for wildlife paintings,pillows, custom order of your favorite fish or take a moment and read her blog. All images are copyrighted artwork by Amanda McLenon, all rights reserved.  Images may not be copied or distributed without artist’s permission. — CS

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