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Biography – Leslie Neumann

Leslie Neumann is a Florida-based artist who paints landscapes with encaustic (hot beeswax.) A hybrid between abstraction and representation, her paintings are a contrast of seductive beauty coupled with a sense of danger. 

A graduate of California College of Arts in Oakland, California, with Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and a Master of Art degree in painting from New York University in Manhattan, Neumann’s work is in the permanent collections of 9 museums, 75 corporate collections nationwide, and has been exhibited in 90 shows in the past 30 years. 

In addition to earning numerous grants and awards, her artwork can be found in private and public collections throughout the United States, including Nissan Motor Corporation, ADT Securities, Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotels, Baylor College of Medicine, National Space Biomedical Research Institute in Houston, and 43 Firebirds Restaurants throughout the USA.

She will be having two solo exhibitions in 2024 two Florida locations: Arts on Douglas in New Smyrna Beach and Dunedin Fine Arts Center in Dunedin.

Artist’s Statement by Leslie Neumann

After living in New York City for 20 years, population 8 million, I moved to Aripeka, Florida, a small fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico, population 395. My home and studio are surrounded by 15,000 of acres of coastal wetlands.  All this beauty has inspired and influenced me as an artist, and every day I’m engaged by its raw, primitive energy.

I produce two bodies of work, both landscapes. 

One series is the Wetlands Series, which I began 35 years ago. Initially I did “scenes viewed through the window,” but now my Wetlands Series is characterized by close-up views of lush, semi-tropical environments with saturated colors. I shifted to this close-up perspective because the “kayak point of view” places the viewer IN the salt marsh, surrounded by steamy beauty. I often say that my paintings are a contrast of seductive beauty coupled with an invitation to adventure.

My Transitions Series started in November 2016, because I was (and still am) alarmed at some developments in our domestic politics, but because I make beautiful landscapes, I wasn’t sure how I could express my concerns. The answer for me was to make large scale paintings with an immense sky filled with storm clouds. Often there is very little visible ground, which is symbolic of “nowhere to stand, no ground beneath our feet.”

My painting medium is encaustic, or hot beeswax, which produces beautiful, rich surfaces.  As you view my work from across the room, the illusion of deep space draws you into my landscapes. But what appears as a realistic scene when viewed from afar, quickly dissolves into abstraction as you approach the painting.

While my artwork does fulfill one of my primary objectives – to create beauty, I also achieved my other objective – do good in the world – by being a citizen activist, focused on land preservation. I’m one of the founding members of a local land trust called The Gulf Coast Conservancy which advocated for the protection of environmentally sensitive lands by placing them into public ownership. Since 1992, we have facilitated the preservation of 15,000 precious coastal acres – – the same acres which serve as my artistic inspiration.

I’m a graduate of California College of Arts in Oakland, California, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and a Master of Art degree in painting from New York University in Manhattan. My work is in the permanent collections of 9 museums, 75 corporate collections nationwide, and has been exhibited in 90 shows in the past 30 years.

Critics Quotes

“Aripeka resident Leslie Neumann is dedicated to preserving Florida’s wetlands, but the wetlands are scarcely recognizable in her color-infused paintings. Instead, they become places inhabited by sorcerers.  Her swamp grass erupts in flames that appear to have been started by supernatural forces.”

Joanne Milani, Tampa Tribune

“Leslie Neumann is a dark romantic whose mysterious landscapes seem independent of time – or weather.  Over the years, she has refined her unusual technique of layering oil paint and hot wax, to create settings that seethe with haunting luminosity, as if permeated by spirits.”

Mary Ann Marger, Tampa Bay Times

“I keep appreciating more and more how hopeful, mysterious, and uplifting your landscapes are.”

Luis Gottardi, Art Taco Blog

“Hard to say whether Leslie Neumann’s subject matter serves her medium or the medium serves the subject. Which is to say, they work very well in partnership.  She is essentially a landscape artist and paints using oil and encaustic, a hot wax method that creates texture and depth. The wax also provides a luminous quality that takes the works to a mystical, mysterious level.  Her gift for color is undeniable. You can get lost in her imagined lands.”

Lennie Bennett, Tampa Bay Times

“Your landscapes make me change my mind about landscape painting.”

Julie Garisto, Creative Pinellas

“To the casual observer, the work of Leslie Neumann evokes a distinctive artistic paradox. It is both passionate and soothing, powerful and disarming, apocalyptic and transcendent, predictable with an element of surprise. It’s a dichotomy of sensations from an artist intent on peering into nature’s soul.”

Lara Bradburn, Tampa Tribune

“Like the word love, “landscape painting” is often put to use as a common place term, wasted on work of little distinction or feeling.  Leslie Neumann’s visions of natural scenery are the real thing.   There’s no peace here, no safe hold. Neumann’s landscapes are about life.  They celebrate unpredictability and mood. If you want to see the sublime, if you want to see what Florida would be missing without its wetlands, see these pictures by Neumann.”

Joan Altabe, Sarasota Herald Tribune

“If you thought about land conservation and wondered why it was important or whether you should care about it — one only has to look at these paintings to see what we stand to lose. Sometimes a beautifully and lovingly crafted work of art speaks louder than a megaphone.”

Amanda Cooper, Curator at the Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, Florida