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Friday, July 24, 2015

Featured Artist: Leslie Neumann

"Good materials are crucial for good art - not only for the in-the-moment experience, but also for the legacy of the work.  Much of my work has been collected by museums and corporations and residential clients, and so I feel good that I use the best of everything.  I am a very loyal customer of R & F Handmade Paints, the pioneer in encaustics and oil pigment sticks, and now a partner with Ampersand Panels for their Encausticbord." ~Leslie Neumann
photography by George Blanchette
Florida artist Leslie Neumann, knew as a young child she was an artist, remembering drawing when she was two and three. During her freshmen college year, in the midst of family tragedy when she lost her only sibling in an automobile accident, she found herself committing to fine art full time.    Reinventing herself, she transferred to the California College of Art to receive her BFA and later moved to NYU for her MFA.  After years of living and teaching in New York, St. John's University in Queens, Leslie moved to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida to work full time as a painter and active environmentalist.

Installation at Firebirds, photo by Nancy Rankin
Leslie's love of landscape came with her move to Florida.  The figurative work faded away as the lush Florida vegetation and native bold colors caught her attention.  "I never gave myself permission to distort the figure- as did Francis Bacon or Willem DeKooning or Pablo Picasso, although they were my favorites, but I have no problem painting the landscape on my own terms.  While my landscapes are representative to a degree, they are quite abstract.  Paint is always the first and foremost consideration, not depicting something accurately," Leslie explains.  "In the last decade, I have added a cosmic dimension to my landscape-esque work.  It seems natural to me to be thoroughly immersed in the hot, primitive wetlands- and then to drift effortlessly up into the nether regions of space, where we are released from time and gravity."

Leslie began her journey as an oil painter, but found that her large impasto passages took years to dry.  In 1989 a friend gave her "some wax" to try and she never looked back.  The combination of the oils and wax gives her the impasto she likes along with the atmospheric and diaphanous look of the oil sticks.  She explains further, "I also love how you simply cannot predict what will happen with wax.  You put it down, but then when you heat it up to bond it to the surface of your substrate - anything can- and does happen.  You must be fully present when you work with wax, not just for the fire and safety aspect, but because you're making seat-of-the-pants decisions second by second.  I love the surprises.  I swear that half of what I end up with is a gift that comes from the materials!"
photography by George Blanchette

Besides the numerous corporate and private collections around the country, Leslie's work can be found in Firebird restaurants around the country as she was commissioned from the national chain's opening to create original work for each location.  You can also find Leslie online at her website, to see more of her collection and videos of her philosophy.

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

1 comment:

  1. Beauty surrounds Leslie and she is of her surroundings. Nature poses for her every day and often in a different way.