Morean Arts Center Exhibition, Manna from Heaven — and Earth
Leslie Neumann, Artist's Statement

After 68 years on the planet, I have a lot of stories, and I have lots of experiences. Some of my past doesn’t even feel like me. But one thing has always been true. My family was brilliant, liberated, and creative, and they instilled in me these dual primary objectives: follow your dreams and do good in the world.

Follow your dreams? I make art because I love to paint. I make THIS kind of art because I’m awed by the beauty and the raw power of nature.

Oftentimes, I paint nature from the “kayak point of view,” up close, nose to nose with the wetlands. These paintings are full of vibrant colors and lush textures. Occasionally, I paint nature from a flying bird’s point of view, when I float above it all in the clouds, but I’m still within view of the earth. And once in a while, the journey is deep into the cosmos where’s there’s no attachment to land, and I feel free from time and gravity.

My medium is encaustic – or hot wax – which is an unpredictable and seductive material. It supplies luminosity to my work, and intriguing surfaces, along with “happy accidents.”

As to the other primary objective, do good in the world: I am a citizen activist, focused mostly on land conservation along the Gulf coast area of Florida. I belong to a small, but mighty local land trust that works to protect environmentally sensitive land by placing it into public ownership. We have a notable record of success, so much so, that if you look at maps of Google Earth on the Gulf in west central Florida, you can see the swath of “green” that shows our influence.

Some artists are activists in their art – using their art as a form of protest, to point out injustices or society’s ills. I’m an activist in my day-to- day life, not in my art. I leave the studio to speak on behalf of land conservation to people who have the power and the purse strings: county commissioners, state legislators and other government agencies like DEP, Army Corps of Engineers, or the Water Management District.

But when I paint, it’s a different story. As Amanda Cooper, the Curator of Exhibitions at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, said to me, “I think this is what you were meant to do…make beautiful paintings that underscore the importance of the natural environment. Your happiness and contentment are contagious through your art work. That’s your role…the happy activist.”

“Manna from Heaven — and Earth,” Press Release

Leslie's Inspiration
In 1991, I moved from New York City, population 8 million, to Aripeka, a small fishing village of 500 people on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. My home and studio are surrounded by more than 14,000 acres of coastal wilderness. I hear no traffic. Instead, I listen to the fish jump at night, while seeing stars reflected in the water. All of this beauty has inspired and influenced me as an artist. Every day I’m engaged by the raw, primitive energy of the wetlands, as well as the vast cosmic night sky.


Winds of Change

Winds of Change

Landscape Artist Leslie Neumann
Photo Credit — Beth Reynolds

Leslie Neumann is an American artist that specializes in painting Wetlands and Cosmic images using a technique called encaustic on panel. Using a combination of oil paints and hot wax, she achieves striking images with deep, rich colors and texture.

Leslie received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the California College of Arts in Oakland, California, and a Master’s Degree in painting from New York University in Manhattan.

After living in New York City for 14 years and teaching art at St. John’s University in Queens for 6 of those years, she moved in 1991 to the small fishing village of Aripeka on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. 

An active environmentalist, Neumann and other members of her community have been successful in helping to preserve more than 14,000 acres of pristine coastal lands.

Neumann is a recipient of a Fellowship from the New York State Foundation for the Arts, an Individual Artist Fellowship from the State of Florida, and an Artist Enhancement Grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and a Gottlieb Foundation Emergency Grant for Painting.

In 2005, Neumann was honored with a 15-year retrospective of her work at the Vero Beach Art Museum.

One can find Neumann’s work in many private and public collections throughout the USA, including Nissan Motor Corporation, ADT Securities, Marriott hotels, Baylor College of Medicine, National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Firebirds Restaurants, Florida museums such as Polk Museum of Art, Tampa Museum of Art, as well as the City of Tampa and the City of Orlando’s Public Art Collections.

Contact Leslie Neumann

Leslie Neumann
3215 Gulf Drive, PO Box 61, Aripeka, FL 34679