Dragonfly and Fish

August 29th, 2016

Here is “Dragonfly and Fish,” a fun painting which shows a cross-section of an underwater scene.

You can see something similar in a lot of my “Tree of Life” paintings, with an underground cross-section that shows the roots of a tree growing downwards. Here, I show the parts of the lotus plant under the water in addition to the flowers and leaves above the surface. The water’s surface is bowl-shaped, giving the effect of a fish-eye lens.

Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Dragonfly and Fish. 36″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

This painting shows a moment of balance. Above and below, air and water, warm and cool. As humans, we can simultaneously hold within us conflicting emotions of sad and happy, despair and gratitude. One of the symbolic meanings I like the most about the lotus flower is the idea that this beautiful, clean, fragrant, wondrous thing grows out of such a low, slimy environment as the muck at the bottom of a pond. We can’t get away from the mucky parts of being human, but we can choose to exist like the lotus flower does, to embody love and possibility.

The air above is full of heat and sunshine, represented in warm orange-yellow tones. This large, gleaming dragonfly buzzes through the scene.

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Under the water, surrounded by dreamy bubbles, is this little orange fish, its eye gleaming just like the eye of the dragonfly.

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The water towards the bottom becomes a murky brownish red. The dark roots of the lotus plants spread out across the floor of the pond. Up close, you can really see the rich texture I created with a palette knife.

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

As much as I love the dragonfly and the fish, who seem to me to be looking right at each other from their different worlds, my favorite part of this painting is this gently moving wave at the surface of the water. It reads as refracted light and color through clear moving water, the cross-section of the water I wanted to represent.

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

But when you look at it up close, it is delightfully abstract.

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly and Fish. 36″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

This painting is so colorful it can light up a room.

Cedar Lee art in living room: Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The painted edges are 2.5″ deep.

Dragonfly and Fish. 36" x 24", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Dragonfly and Fish. 36″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Koi Circles

August 24th, 2016

Here is my newest addition to my Lotus series: “Koi Circles”

Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The viewer gazes down into the water to see two orange koi fish swimming in a graceful circle around the stem of the fully opened lotus flower whose petals are spread above the water’s surface.

This painting is simultaneously calming and energizing. For a feeling of focus and appreciation, meditate upon the circular movement of the image as you gaze into it.

Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

I painted the water in tones of crimson, with violet shadows and yellow highlights. This unnatural palette gives the image a unique artistic flair and a joyful mood.

The painting continues onto the 2.5″ deep edges of the painting. Like all my paintings, seeing it in person is a three-dimensional experience.

Painting wraps around edge: Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Painting wraps around edge: Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The beautiful fish are full of personality. The thick texture of the paint follows their curved bodies and gently billowing fins.

Detail: Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

White reflections on the water’s surface hint at the movement beneath.

Detail: Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The center of the blooming lotus flower is raised with thick texture.

Center of Lotus flower: Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Center of Lotus flower: Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Some of the petals overlap one of the leaves, casting a gray-violet shadow.

Lotus petal shadows: Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Lotus petal shadows: Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Koi Circles. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Koi Circles. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

 

 

 

Art Studio: Orange Exterior Paint

August 19th, 2016

I settled on Behr’s “Bonfire Night” shade of orange for the exterior of my new studio!

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

I might change it up in the future, but it’ll be this color for a while at least.

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

I did all this painting myself–about 9 hours of work in total.

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

But I still need to do all the trim–I’ll leave the trim color a surprise, but I will tell you that I chose a deep, dark color.

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Also happening over the next couple weeks: insulation is going in–I’ll be doing that myself, and electric outlets are going in–I’ll be enlisting help for that task.

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Portland has reached triple-digit weather this week, which is slowing my progress, but I’ll be plugging away at it bit-by-bit until everything is done!

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee Art Studio under construction

Cedar Lee & Local Artists: Community 6 Show at Ben Will Gallery

August 15th, 2016

Over the weekend, the Portland Open Studios Community 6 Preview Show went up at Ben Will Gallery in Portland’s Foster-Powell neighborhood.

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

This gallery doubles as the studio space for local painter Ben Will. It’s a cool space–like a big open warehouse! I remembered to get a few snapshots before the crowd arrived for the opening.

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Artwork shown on the wall below, hung salon-style, includes work by myself, Ben Will, Nicole BereczkiJill Torberson, John Shlichta, Shawn Demarest, and Kelli MacConnell.

We will all be participating in Portland Open Studios in October.

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

I hung five small paintings for this show, from my Tree of Life series.

Cedar Lee with painting: Giant Moon

Cedar Lee with painting: Giant Moon

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

I enjoyed the live music that was going on in the gallery, and had a good time meeting new friends. Here I am with Melissa Moline, a Portland-area jeweler and architect.

Artists Melissa Moline & Cedar Lee at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Artists Melissa Moline & Cedar Lee at Ben Will Gallery, Portland

This art show will be on display until September 7th. If you’re local to Portland, you must go check it out: 4533 SE 67th Ave, Portland, OR.

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Cedar Lee art at Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

 

Three Dragonflies

August 12th, 2016

Here is “Three Dragonflies.”

Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

In contrast to the rough and thick texture of the paint throughout, I painted the dragonflies with a delicate touch–they look filmy, light and ethereal as they flit about in this setting of choppy bumps and thick streaks of bold colors.

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The extreme contrast of the bright white lotus flower against the intense colors around it makes the flower glow with light.

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

This is a medium-large scale painting, 2′ tall and 3′ wide.

Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The deep painted edges are so dramatic.

Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The thick texture was achieved with several layers of oil colors in cold wax medium, spread with palette knives and rolled on with a brayer.

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Three Dragonflies. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Building of Cedar Lee Art Studio

August 8th, 2016

After, oh, about 17 years of painting as an adult, I have worked in…TEN that I can count off the top of my head (maybe more?) different studio spaces. This includes two rented spaces, two basements, one outbuilding, at least four “spare rooms” all in different homes, and one setup in which I painted while sitting on the edge of my bed. I have painted sitting on a drop cloth in the middle of my dining room floor. I have painted outside in my back yard, weather permitting, with my supplies carried outside and back in for every painting session.

I have cleaned my brushes in kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, shop sinks, and with paper towels outside in the grass. I have stored art supplies, shipping supplies and tools in my garage, under my carport, in basements, in my home office, in my bedroom, and on my living room floor. I have experienced disastrous incidents involving painting supplies when met with pets, toddlers and clumsy feet.

Consequently, I have a very clear image in my mind of what I want and need in a painting studio, and I’ve been working towards manifesting my “dream studio” for all of my adult life. Space and budget limitations being what they are, I have to be realistic, but what I have planned is pretty close to that dream.

As you may recall, here is the spot in my back yard that I designated as my studio build site upon moving into my current home more than a year ago:

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Here is the build site several weeks ago after I got a compacted gravel pad installed to be my new studio’s foundation. (Portland area folks in need of a landscaper: I cannot recommend Patrick Carter-North of Prestige Landscape enough.)

StudioBuildSite07242016

Shortly after this, my builder came in and got to work. There has been a whirlwind of construction progress ever since.

My builder has been working from the designs I provided him. I’m working with Randy Berger of Berger Construction–Portland/Salem-area folks take note: You cannot go wrong hiring this contractor. I am overjoyed with the quality he has consistently delivered, on schedule and under budget!

I’ve been doing my best to document the progress as the building has gone up. Here, the floor is in and they’ve started framing the walls. The structure is 12′ x 16′.

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More walls are up!

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The clerestory windows are added at the top. This feature has been on my dream wish list for a studio, for the past 5+ years since I’ve been researching possible studio designs!

For my studio, I’ve also chosen a dramatic slant to the roof. The back wall is only 7′ high, while the front wall is a soaring 13′!

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Here they’ve added the support posts and started to frame the overhang on the right side of the building, which will give me a small porch-like area off this side of the building.

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You can now really get a feel for the interior space.

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At this point, in a very cool but short-lived experience, I am able to stand in the center of my studio while it is still open to the sky and trees above.

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But then the roof went up and I forgot all about that.

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Now I am feeling giddy with excitement as my dream is really taking shape. Pinch me–is this real??

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Here, some bracing is still up and none of the windows are installed yet, but walking into this space, I can now see exactly how it will be, even in its unfinished state.

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The clerestory windows are gorgeous! It will be so fun to watch how the light and shadows change inside the building throughout the day.

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I am leaving the rafters exposed, a look that I really love!

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The little porch area just outside the building protects from the rain and sun. The back corner under this overhang is where I plan to eventually put my shop sink.

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Windows are being installed!

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Every evening after the workers leave, I spend approximately 20 minutes taking pictures of this marvelous space while laughing with delight, saying out loud, “OH! It’s SO beautiful!” while jumping up and down like a little girl.

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Now for the roofing. Because of the shape and placement of my building, the top of the roof is never really visible to anyone. This is a shame, because it is a beautiful roof–the shingles match the ones on my home for consistency.

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And now my “glass corner” is installed–one of my very favorite features of my new studio. Two huge panes of glass I salvaged from a pair of old sliding doors are installed in this corner. This studio is going to be absolutely flooded with sunlight.

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You can see one of the floor-to-ceiling windows of my glass corner here, on the right.

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Next up: the big hole on the front right corner of the building will soon hold double French doors that swing out.

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From this point on, my builder is leaving and the rest of the work is on me. So, let’s just say the progress from here on won’t be quite this speedy. Finishing the interior by myself will take up all my weekends over the next month and a half at least, counting on my handy spouse to lend a helping hand when he’s able. But that is okay. My goal in the end is to be moved in and fully operational before Portland Open Studios begins on October 8th. Even if there are still details unfinished by then, it will be okay.

I am over the moon!

In my next update, you’ll get to see what color I’ve chosen to paint the exterior!

Resting Place

August 5th, 2016

Here is “Resting Place.”

In this painting, a dragonfly has found this lovely welcoming lotus flower, spread open on the surface of the water, surrounded by lily pads.

The water’s surface is an abstract pattern of golden orbs of light glowing against a deep red background.

Resting Place. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Resting Place. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

From a distance, if you blur your eyes a bit, you can see the red background and yellow orbs together create a deep orange color, striking against the green of the leaves and the light pink and lavender of the flower.

You can see the scale of this painting, 24″ x 36″, shown on the right, along with my recent painting “Dragonfly’s Discovery” on the left. At present, I have several more Lotus paintings of this size in progress in the studio! Can’t wait to show you the next ones that are coming up. These large-scale paintings are quite time-consuming but they are worth it. I am not used to working quite this large for the Lotus series, and I love to see them finished, as these big paintings can really transform a whole room with the visual impact of vibrant colors on this scale.

Artist Cedar Lee with Lotus paintings: Dragonfly's Discovery (left) and Resting Place (right)

Artist Cedar Lee with Lotus paintings: Dragonfly’s Discovery (left) and Resting Place (right)

This painting, like my other recent ones, has been painted mostly with a palette knife, using cold wax medium to achieve a thick texture throughout.

Detail: Resting Place. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Resting Place. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Here’s a close-up of the stylized dragonfly. To me, it looks almost cartoonish–this stylized look, along with the thick texture of the paint, the bold colors, and the patterns of circles, conveys a fun and playful feeling through the whole painting.

Detail: Resting Place. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Resting Place. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

I love using fun and whimsy in this way to represent what ultimately are spiritual themes: the beauty of nature, the symbolism of the Lotus, the idea of a resting place, somewhere safe and calm, a place of mental focus, prayer, intention, and deep breathing.

Resting Place. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Resting Place. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

This painting is on a stretched canvas with 2.5″ deep edges!

PDXOS Community 6 Preview Show

July 29th, 2016

Please join me at this upcoming art event! My artwork will be on display and it’s a great chance to meet some local SE Portland artists if you are in the area.

Ben Will Gallery is hosting a Portland Open Studios Preview Show for the artists in Community 6, which includes nine artists selected by Portland Open Studios to represent Foster-Powell, Mt. Scott-Arleta, South Tabor, Woodstock and Creston-Kenilworth neighborhoods.

Portland Open Studios 2016 Community 6

Portland Open Studios 2016 Community 6

This Preview Show will feature live music with artists in attendance from these areas to talk with you about their art process and the Portland Open Studios Tour on the 2nd & 3rd weekend in October. All art, prints, sculpture and ceramics by the artists will be for sale at Ben Will Gallery.

Mark your calendar! Saturday, August 13, 5:30 pm at Ben Will Gallery4533 SE 67th Ave, Portland, OR 97206.

Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

Ben Will Gallery, Portland, OR

The artists in this exhibit are Cedar LeeNicole BereczkiShawn DemarestKelli MacConnellAlison O’Donoghue, Ben Will, Jill TorbersonVicki Wilson, and John Shlichta.

Dragonfly’s Discovery

July 26th, 2016

Here is “Dragonfly’s Discovery!”

The color gradient in the background goes from deep violet shadow at the bottom to bright scarlet and yellow at the top. This makes me imagine the orbs are rising slowly upwards as they float through the space. As I painted it, I was thinking of the symbolism of the Lotus, the light part of our human nature rising above the dark.

Dragonfly's Discovery. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Dragonfly’s Discovery. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

In this colorful abstract fantasy world, a happy little dragonfly flits about through spiral shapes and orbs of light, zeroing in on this pair of lush blossoming flowers.

It feels like a joyful celebration!

Detail: Dragonfly's Discovery. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The composition of the two lotus flowers is similar to the twin blooms from my painting “Lotus Bubbles,” while the spiral shapes, orbs of light, circles or dots, however you choose to see them, are a motif I’ve played with in some of my previous paintings, especially “Glow Within.” I’ve incorporated a similar motif into the foreground of my Tree of Life painting”Seed Moon Rising.” And looking back, I realized that I did something similar in this cat portrait I painted almost 10 years ago!

Detail: Dragonfly's Discovery. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly’s Discovery. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly's Discovery. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly’s Discovery. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly's Discovery. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly’s Discovery. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

2 feet high and 3 feet across, this is a large painting. The edges of the canvas are extra deep, so the painting comes out away from the wall more than most wall art you’ll see. I’ve created very thick paint texture with cold wax medium and palette knives. These features combine with the bold red, gold and white color scheme to give this painting a dramatic impact!

Detail: Dragonfly's Discovery. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Dragonfly’s Discovery. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Here I Go Again…Plans for New Art Studio!

July 24th, 2016

Let me introduce you to the place where I’ve been painting for the past year: a tiny room in my basement. The small window pictured here is the only source of natural light. The carpet is red. The wallpaper is 80s. The space is cramped.

It actually looks more spacious in this picture than it has in months, because I’ve just sold a ton of artwork, then moved out almost everything that was left, to clear some more work space. Since I can’t store much finished art in here, I try to move things to the walls of my home or out to exhibits as quickly as possible.

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Art studio of Cedar Lee

A quick glimpse at my bare-bones setup: you can see here that I sit straight on the floor to paint, with my paints and tools spread out all around me. I do not have shelves for my supplies, a chair, or much furniture to speak of. Sometimes I have a drying rack for finished paintings set up with 2x4s on a set of sawhorses. In this photo, the 2x4s can be seen in the left background, directly on the floor with paintings drying on them.

Art studio of Cedar Lee

Art studio of Cedar Lee

Many times, I have had to move things out of the way just to move around the room, turned to put something down and bumped my elbow or knee in the cramped space, and climbed or crawled over and under paintings, blank canvases, tools and supplies. My easel moves from corner to corner to accommodate whatever paintings I’m working on at the moment.

The reason I haven’t spent much time or effort on comforts or organization in this studio is that I’ve thought of it as a temporary work space since I moved in. From Day 1, the plan has always been to build a new studio outbuilding in my back yard as soon as possible. Over the past year, I have researched, planned, gotten bids for work, saved up funds, gotten more bids, and saved up more funds.

Now, about a year and fifty-two paintings later…(I just checked my files and counted. Wow!!) I am finally at the point where the new studio is really starting to happen!

This is a picture from about this time last year, when I first chose this spot to be my future build site. As you can see, last summer, the space held a mini corn field and lots of shrubs.

Build site for new Cedar Lee art studio

Build site for new Cedar Lee art studio

This is my studio build site today:

Build site for new Cedar Lee art studio

Build site for new Cedar Lee art studio

Last week I had this gravel pad foundation installed! I bartered a painting for part of the labor, which was an amazingly feel-good, win-win transaction for both myself and my landscaper. The site is now a blank canvas ready for building. Construction starts next week. I’ll be hiring a builder to put up the structure, then I’ll finish the interior myself, as I did last time with my old back yard studio in California.

This studio is going to be so cool! I have planned out a 12′ x 16′ room full of windows–one of the corners will be made of glass to let in maximum light. There will be double French doors, clerestory windows across the front, a dramatic slanted roof, and a small overhang on one side to use as a rudimentary covered porch. I’ll have good insulation, power for lights, heating and cooling, ventilation, and a shop sink outside the building for easy cleanup.

I hope to be moved in by the fall! More updates to come.

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