Thursday, May 19, 2016


LELAND NEFF: HORSEMAN/ NORTH FORK CLASSIC ARTIST. Artist and horsemen are a unique combination, and East Hampton resident Leland Neff can certainly claim each propensity his passion. At the age of six he was riding in rodeos and headlining his first art show. Leland was born in Virginia. His father, a naval fighter pilot, brought his family where ever he was stationed. At the age of three Leland was riding horses in Texas. He studied horseback riding when his family was in Italy. Leland finally settled down and studied art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, majoring in photography and fine art. He's been on photo shoots in Argentina (polo - for GQ magazine), traveled to England to photograph fox hunts, practiced dressage then switched to jumping - while constantly drawing, sketching and painting horses and their owners, "I've always loved horses and art, so I've always participated in both," said Leland. The artist sometimes barters his talents for riding lessons. He once painted a 4 ft. by 6 ft. portrait of an East End horse farm owner for jumping lessons. "I've painted many Long Island owners and their horses' portraits," said Leland, who also bartered a portrait session for riding lessons on Paperchase Farm in Middleburg, Virginia. "Everyone seems happy with the paintings, and I get to have these terrific teachers give me lessons,: he explained. "It works out for everyone." Leland's beautiful portraits will be reprinted in a book, soon to be published by Simon and Schuster. One of Leland's greatest joys is his thoroughbred mare, Scarlett, which he adopted through the New York Horse Rescue in Manorville, LI. The 17 hand three year old is a wonderful jumper, and her sire won $1.6 million at the track. "She's great, and I've had no problems with her at all," said Leland, who cares for three horses at his three- acre East Hampton home. Leland enters his work in the Hampton Classic poster competition, and garnered second place three years in a row. Ironically, it was Leland who suggested artist Janet Crawford enter her work in the annual competition,( which she won by tracing one of Leland's paintings) which she one this year's honor. Leland said he is threilled to have his artwork at this year's North Fork Classic poster, but is striving for a special goal next year. "Next year, I not only want to win the Hampton Classic poster contest, (which is totally political), I also want to compete at the Hampton Classic Horse Show," he said. With Leland'd strong combined talents, there's an excellent chance that he'll achieve that goal.

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