After living in New York City for 20 years, I moved to a small fishing village on the West Coast of Florida. 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 I call the Wetlands Series and it’s characterized by close-up views of lush tropical environments with saturated colors. The other is called the Transitions Series, where I emphasize 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.” This series illustrates the disarming beauty of nature and offers the “transition” between fearful states to serene states.
I find that landscapes are a wonderful vessel for metaphorical and emotional states. Ultimately, I choose beauty - and hopefulness.
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 paintings. But what appears as a realistic scene when viewed from afar, quickly dissolves into abstraction as you approach the painting, so you can experience both the dreamy quality of an imaginary scene from one vantage point, and the pure pleasure of color and texture from another vantage point.
While my artwork does fulfill one of my primary objectives - to create beauty, I also achieve 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 facilitates the protection of environmentally sensitive lands by placing them into public ownership. Since 1992, we have helped save 15,000 precious coastal acres
The Happy Activist — Essay About Leslie Neumann by Amanda Cooper