Lotus Studies With Resin

March 24th, 2017

I am working on a lot of Lotus paintings all at once right now. I have works in progress in various stages all around the studio.

Two new 10″ x 10″ paintings are finally complete after several stages of building up color and texture. I’ve finished them with a coat of resin, which is a new process for me.

Here is the first, “Lotus Study 1” before I applied the resin:

Before Resin: Lotus Study 1. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Before Resin: Lotus Study 1. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

And after resin:

Lotus Study 1. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 1. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The resin has the effect of deepening all the colors and smoothing everything out all the brush marks, knife marks, and little bumps in the paint’s surface.

Detail: Lotus Study 1. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Lotus Study 1. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The surface is highly reflective from some angles.

Lotus Study 1. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 1. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

These paintings gleam like jewels!

Lotus Study 1. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 1. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The simplicity of the flower against the deep red abstract background is bold and satisfying.

Lotus Study 1. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 1. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Here’s the second one, “Lotus Study 2.” Again, here you see how it looked before applying resin:

Before Resin: Lotus Study 2. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Before Resin: Lotus Study 2. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

And with the resin:

Lotus Study 2. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 2. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The background was painted in a loose, free style, a variety of brush marks, lines and dots making up the colorful background.

Lotus Study 2. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 2. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 2. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 2. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

You can see the way the light gleams on the glassy surface.

Lotus Study 2. 10" x 10", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Lotus Study 2. 10″ x 10″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Here are the paintings on the studio drying rack after the resin was poured.

Cedar Lee Lotus paintings on drying rack

Cedar Lee Lotus paintings on drying rack

The painting continuing around the deep edges of the wood panels gives a unique, sophisticated modern look. I love how this art doesn’t need a frame–the edges, especially such deep edges on a smaller-size panel, make it three-dimensional and unique.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Moonlit Daisies

March 20th, 2017

This sweet little painting from 2005 is called “Moonlit Daisies.” Even then, the moon, and flowers, were both a big inspiration to me–still the case today!

Moonlit Daisies. 20" x 16", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Moonlit Daisies. 20″ x 16″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

This is very much a student piece. Created for a painting class, the colors and style were loosely inspired by Chagall’s “Bride With Fan.”

Marc Chagall. Bride With Fan, 1911

Marc Chagall. Bride With Fan, 1911

 

Rise Up

March 18th, 2017

This lotus flower painting is called “Rise Up.”

Rise Up. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The reason I was first drawn to use lotus flower imagery was the symbolism of the flower reaching up out of the murky darkness of the water, becoming this beautiful thing that opens up into the sunlight above.

It’s a continual human challenge to not get pulled into the darkness, to make the choice to rise above–instead of mindlessly reacting to life events with base emotions, to choose to be as good and kind as we can in a given moment. While this is a continual challenge, it’s also been proved to be something humans are capable of. So, when I’m painting these flowers, I’m setting that intention for myself as I think about the symbolism.

Detail: Rise Up. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

These ideas are illustrated particularly well by the vertical lines throughout the background.

I created these lines by dripping layers of different colors thinned with varying amounts of oil and paint thinner to create this layered effect. Here’s a quick time lapse that shows this process.

The lines are pulling everything down. As they drip down, they shift into darker and darker colors.

Rise Up. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The slim, straight stems of the flowers reach upwards against the downward-moving background.

Detail: Rise Up. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I painted the petals of the flowers thickly with palette knives, so they stand out bright and 3-dimensional against the background.

Artist Cedar Lee with painting: Rise Up. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee with painting: Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This is a large painting! 30″ x 30″. The saturated colors at this size make it dramatic to see in person.

Rise Up. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The color wrapping around the deep edges of the canvas complete the effect.

Rise Up. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Life Cycles of the Apple & Cherry Trees

March 13th, 2017

In both these pieces from 2005, I was playing with a fun concept: Portraying all the stages a fruit tree goes through, from flowering to fruit, to dropping seeds that a new tree can sprout from, in one image all at once.

Both paintings are diptychs–the image is painted on two separate canvases which are then hung together on the wall. Since then, I’ve done more diptychs, and triptychs, and even pieces with four or five separate canvases that are all hung together to make one image!

Life Cycle of the Apple Tree. 28" x 18" (Each panel is 14" x 18"), Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Life Cycle of the Apple Tree. 28″ x 18″ (Each panel is 14″ x 18″), Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

In this one of the apple tree, you can see the pink blooms on the top left shift to tiny apples in the center then big, red, ripe ones on the left. In the bottom panel, the leaves have all fallen off the tree and the dark rotten apples lie on the ground at the end of the season. A tiny new sprout grows out of one of them.

The cherry tree is similar.

I like how in this one, however, the life cycle makes more of a complete circle: spring on the top left with the pink blossoms, summer on the top right with the glossy green cherry leaves and the tree laden with ripe fruit.

Life Cycle of the Cherry Tree. 32" x 20" (Each panel is 16" x 20"), Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Life Cycle of the Cherry Tree. 32″ x 20″ (Each panel is 16″ x 20″), Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

The hanging fruit draws the eye down to the bottom right and the brown leaves of autumn, then the bottom left brings us back to spring, with baby tree shoots growing out of the ground, and in the branches of the tree above, more pink blossoms pull the circle back around.

Notice the cute little bird holding a cherry in its beak!

Eclipse With Pelicans

March 10th, 2017

Here is “Eclipse With Pelicans.”

The moment of the solar eclipse is witnessed by the pelicans flying through the golden sky, and by the people in the tiny faraway sailboats perched on the water.

Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The dark disk of the moon hangs in the middle of the sky, blocking out the sun except for the razor thin bright white corona peeking out around its edges.

Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The birds are shown in silhouette, each one forming a unique shape in mid-flight. The ones that appear larger are closer to the foreground.

Detail: Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

To the left of the eclipse flies one solitary pelican, separated from the rest, giving an interesting asymmetry to the composition.

Detail: Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The sky is a glowing golden yellow, darkening to a peachy orange-pink further away from the light of the sun’s corona. You can faintly make out the tooth of the canvas fabric under the paint. The pigment forms speckled patterns throughout the sky.

Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse With Pelicans. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This panorama-format painting is 36″ wide, but has the feeling of an even larger painting because of the expansive horizon stretching across it.

 

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Portraits of my Parents

March 6th, 2017

When I look at these paintings, I see my mom and dad, but also I see an illustration of how tricky it can be for a beginner to mix flesh tones.

For the record, my dad is not chocolate brown with purple undertones. He is olive-skinned. And my mom is fair-skinned, with pink undertones but not red like a sunburn!

Steven and Ellie on Their Wedding Day. 30" x 36", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2004 Cedar Lee

Steven and Ellie on Their Wedding Day. 30″ x 36″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2004 Cedar Lee

Despite the skin tones being so off, the painting captures their expressions and their happy memory from 35+ years ago.

You can see my skin tones had progressed quite a bit in this portrait of my dad I did a year later. What I love about this painting is his smile and the sparkle in his eyes.

Steven 21" x 14", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Steven 21″ x 14″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Then this painting of my mom, another year later, is even better. I captured her!

Ellie. 16" x 20", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

Ellie. 16″ x 20″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

In this one, I love how I painted the light falling on the contours of her face and hair.

The lesson here for beginning painters who have a desire to do portraits: At first, you almost definitely *won’t* succeed. But try, try again!

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Tree & Summer Field

March 3rd, 2017

I made these paintings, titled laconically “Tree” and “Summer Field” for a painting class in college. I remember during the class critique, my professor thought that my color choices combined with the movement in these paintings was reminiscent of Charles Burchfield‘s landscapes.

At this time I was still new to oils, having dabbled in them, but being more familiar with acrylics up to that point. Painting in layers and glazes, though now a standard technique for me, was not yet in my repertoire. Today, I might wait for the first layer to dry, then switch to a smaller brush to add detail in subsequent layers. Then, I was working with one large brush and all in one go. So these paintings have a rough, blurry feel to them. But I think it works. There is something to be said for the fresh approach of an inexperienced painter!

Tree. 36″ x 18″, Oil on Canvas, © 2004 Cedar Lee

I do love these sunny paintings. The way the young tree is bending backwards, it looks like it’s dancing.

Summer Field. 36" x 18", Oil on Canvas, © 2004 Cedar Lee

Summer Field. 36″ x 18″, Oil on Canvas, © 2004 Cedar Lee

My favorite part of “Summer Field” is the way the sunlight falls on those wildflowers in the foreground. And, notice the bees!

I intended them to be hung side by side as a diptych. I sold the set for $1,000 and the new owner chose to get them framed.

Cedar Lee paintings "Tree" and "Summer Field" framed

Cedar Lee paintings “Tree” and “Summer Field” framed

In more current news, mark your calendar: I have a Spring Sale coming up May 8-14!

I will be offering free shipping within the U.S. for all my available paintings, even the heaviest, large-scale ones.

Sea Cliff Eclipse

February 26th, 2017

This monumental painting is called, “Sea Cliff Eclipse.”

Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eleven silhouetted people stand on top of this impossibly high cliff overlooking the sea, observing the moment of total solar eclipse.

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The eclipse fills the whole sky, which is lit up in rose and gold. The people from their perch in the sky have the exciting good fortune to witness an unobstructed view of this rare astronomical event.

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Although the human figures are tiny, they are powerful with personality. There’s a sense of movement and chatter as they all walk towards the edge of the cliff together.

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The sky and sea are flat washes of color, while the rock formations are so thickly textured they are sculptural.

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The rocks are built up on the canvas with oil and wax, 1/2″ thick in some places.

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The sea is a muted blue gray, calm and flat. The contrast between the textures is dramatic.

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This painting is grand and inspiring! The colors glow.

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

It feels like a unique, magical moment. I would love to be there.

Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Sea Cliff Eclipse. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

All my recent Eclipse paintings will be available in my upcoming Spring Sale May 8-14, and I will have having a solo show with an eclipse theme in Princeton, Kentucky in August/September, to coincide with the big solar eclipse that will be visible from North America on August 21st.

Eclipse at the Top of the World

February 24th, 2017

This series has been carrying me away into fantasy worlds. Here is “Eclipse at the Top of the World.”

Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Like several of my recent Eclipse paintings, this painting shows a lone adventurer at a high vantage point, a mountainous landscape spread out below the spectacle of a total solar eclipse glowing in the sky.

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

But this one is “on top of the world” because of the person’s perch at the tip of this giant rock jutting impossibly high into the sky.

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

You can see some of the thickest-textured paint I’ve yet experimented with in the palette-knife-painted mountains. I applied my mixture of oil paint and cold wax medium more than 1/4″ thick in some places.

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This texture continuing around the deep edges of the canvas gives the piece a three-dimensional impact.

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I painted this relatively quickly–all in one day. You can sense the looseness of my painting in the rough brush and knife strokes throughout.

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The colors are powerful, saturated–yellow, magenta, deep bronze tones and purple black. The image is high-contrast, from the brilliant white of the sun’s corona around the blood red moon, to the deep black shadows in the foreground. All these things give the painting a certain raw quality, even harshness.

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse at the Top of the World. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This harshness suits the intensity of the moment: I imagine the person is feeling the burning emotions of wonder, loneliness, fear, sadness, love and elation all at once. The person is breathing the thin air at this high elevation, witnessing a rare astronomical event from the perfect vantage point. Oh, to be a little human on this incredible Earth!

Cedar Lee Eclipse paintings in studio. On easel: "Eclipse at the Top of the World"

Cedar Lee Eclipse paintings in studio. On easel: “Eclipse at the Top of the World”

I filmed the creation of this one. Enjoy the cool time-lapse video that gives a glimpse into some of my working process:

 

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Sibling Portraits

February 20th, 2017

I am the oldest of five siblings. Naturally, when I developed an interest in portrait painting, I co-opted all their likenesses for my own purposes.

Some of these paintings are really bad, as I was obviously teaching myself the very hard skill of portrait painting, and a lot of that process  for me was guesswork. A few of them are objectively good. But, what strikes me the most about all these paintings as I’m looking at them now is that no matter my skill level at the time or the style I chose to work in, each painting does capture something of the essence of my siblings at the time in their lives.

During the few years when I got really into portraiture, this idea made it into my artist’s statement–that my goal was always to capture that spark of personality that makes a person them.

I only have baby/kid portraits of my youngest brother, Jordan, as he was still little during these years. (I was 16 when he was born.)

Jordan. © 2003 Cedar Lee

Jordan. © 2003 Cedar Lee

This abstracted portrait really shows the playfulness of Jordan as a small child: the impish grin, the hands busy with toys, the little boy tennis shoe.

Jordan Abstracted. © 2004 Cedar Lee

Jordan Abstracted. © 2004 Cedar Lee

I don’t know about this one. He was kind of making a weird face in the reference photo I used. It looks like he’s in the middle of talking. However, I was learning a lot as I painted it!

Jordan 2. © 2005 Cedar Lee

Jordan 2. © 2005 Cedar Lee

Now my little sister, Shirah at 8 years old. This painting is called “Shirah Belle,” my nickname for her when she was a little girl. I remember being particularly proud of the way I painted the shadows on her face from the strands of hair, and how I depicted the thickness of her hair. The blue background full of spiral shapes give a whimsical child-like feeling to the painting, highlighting her innocence. I really love this painting. It’s 24″ x 36″!

Shirah Belle. © 2003 Cedar Lee

Shirah Belle. © 2003 Cedar Lee

I love this painting even more! In fact, it is one of my favorite paintings of all time, is in my own personal collection and I will never let it go. This is Shirah as a young teenager. Not only does it capture her likeness, but I love the dappled sunlight throughout that gives the feeling of a summer day under trees.

Shirah. © 2006 Cedar Lee

Shirah. © 2006 Cedar Lee

Next, my brother Ben, 21 months my junior. Incidentally, this painting is the only other sibling portrait I have in my personal collection besides “Shirah.”

“Ben the Black-Eyed P.” That year, Ben went as a black-eyed (get it–he has a black eye) “P” (get it? Pea? “P?” har har har) for Halloween. I painted the black eye on him with makeup. We thought we were absolutely the cleverest, most hilarious ever. This painting will go down in my family’s history.

Ben the Black-Eyed P. © 2003 Cedar Lee

Ben the Black-Eyed P. © 2003 Cedar Lee

This next painting was part of my senior thesis show at Goucher College in 2005. Ben at the time was 22. The painting looks kind of like him but it was a little bit “off.” The thing I did capture here is the intensity of Ben’s eyes and something in the facial expression. I chose a geometric pattern of dark colors for the background to suit his personality: forceful and analytical.

Ben. © 2005 Cedar Lee

Ben. © 2005 Cedar Lee

This painting, “Ben’s Hand,” is loose and gestural. I was working from a photo of Ben not wanting his picture taken, and giving me “the hand.” Even though the face in the background is no more than a few smears of paint, it is so much Ben that I can hear his voice and laugh when I look at it!

Ben's Hand. © 2006 Cedar Lee

Ben’s Hand. © 2006 Cedar Lee

Now my brother Micah. Here he is at age 16, posing for my camera. Micah has an effortless charisma. My favorite thing about this painting is the way I used intense light and shadow and saturated color to create the forms of his face. That dab of white sunlight on his nose!

Micah. © 2004 Cedar Lee

Micah. © 2004 Cedar Lee

And finally, this is quite possibly one of the most epic, and funniest, paintings I’ve ever made. This is Micah on the day of his high school graduation. I love the contrast of the black background with his white shirt, and the sparkling eyes that capture him exactly. It’s a great portrait.

Debonaire Micah. © 2006 Cedar Lee

Debonaire Micah. © 2006 Cedar Lee

But why is it epic and funny? Because of its ridiculously large scale! It is 40″ tall.

Cedar Lee with her large-scale portrait "Debonaire Micah"

Cedar Lee with her large-scale portrait “Debonaire Micah”

My parents have this painting in their house, and they joke that it reminds them of how dictators like Stalin like to hang gigantic portraits of themselves. (Not saying anything about Micah, of course.) For years, they had it in their guest room and Micah would be staring down at you over the guest bed as you were trying to sleep. So funny.

 

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