Forest Nymph

May 24th, 2015

As soon as I finished this painting, I said to myself, “It’s a little forest nymph!” and instantly the title stuck in my mind. This prompted me to read up a bit on the fascinating mythology surrounding nymphs before committing to the title.

While I intend this to be a depiction of a human figure, not a literal goddess, I feel my impulsive title is quite fitting. “Different from other goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing…Nymphs are personifications of the creative and fostering activities of nature, most often identified with the life-giving outflow of springs.”

Forest Nymph. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Forest Nymph. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

I knew I wanted to create an image of a woman joyously dancing in the forest.

I used this photo I took last year as my (clearly, very loosely based) reference for this painting.

Photo by Cedar Lee: Used as reference for painting: Forest Nymph. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Photo by Cedar Lee: Used as reference for painting: Forest Nymph. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

And as inspiration for the pose of my figure, I used this clip art image I found:

Dancing woman clip art: used as inspiration for Cedar Lee painting: Forest Nymph

Dancing woman clip art: used as inspiration for Cedar Lee painting: Forest Nymph

I cropped my photo to fit my 24″ x 36″ format, and after I got the image onto the canvas the way I wanted it, I placed the woman in the center of that glowing sunlight, so it’s almost like she’s on a lit stage.

Photo by Cedar Lee: Used as reference for painting: Forest Nymph. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Photo by Cedar Lee: Used as reference for painting: Forest Nymph. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

And with many other small decisions along the way about color, form and artistic styling, I think the result is beautiful!

Forest Nymph. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Forest Nymph. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Forest Nymph. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Forest Nymph. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Like most of my recent paintings, I started this one by blocking in an under-painting of the basic forms very roughly and with tons of texture, using cold wax mixed thickly into my paint. Then I finished with brushes and oil mediums, the image becoming progressively more refined as I worked.

The result is thick texture throughout the whole surface. Some of the lines created by the thick strokes of the palette knife ended up determining the directions of the thick redwood tree bark, or became tree trunks or small branches in the distance.

Detail: Forest Nymph. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Forest Nymph. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Of course the nymph is me–I do believe that painters can’t help but do a bit of a self portrait in every painting, regardless of the subject or style.

This little dancing woman embodies what I am attempting to create in my life right now–the creative, life-giving, joyously dancing, self-made spirit: Making something beautiful out of whatever ingredients life has thrown at you.

Do you see something of yourself in her?

Detail: Forest Nymph. 24" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Forest Nymph. 24″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

 

Mo studios, mo problems…

May 16th, 2015

So here’s what’s been going on with my studio situation. Anyone who works from home and has small kids will get this to some extent.

Having your work space at home is a highly appealing prospect for obvious reasons–no commute, the ability to shift between work and home and back again throughout the day, and in theory, get lots of work done. However, the challenges of a work-from-home setup include interruptions from family, distracting background noise, and the inability to escape from home responsibilities.

I’ve been working mostly from home as a painter for the past 10 years, and I’m even now still trying to figure out a realistic setup that truly works for me. I’ve come pretty close in the past.

I’ve had the whole 600-square-foot finished basement of a house to work in, which was awesome…but it was carpeted, (not good for an art studio) and the light was bad because it was a basement.

I’ve rented a studio space in a large building before, and while this can be great, you also have to account for the expense of renting plus the hassles of commuting, which combined may not be sustainable long-term.

I’ve painted in several spare rooms over the years, and that can work but can also have drawbacks that make it impossible, which I’ll discuss in a second.

My favorite studio was at my last home, a separate out-building in my back yard. But even that wasn’t ideal–it was way too small, so I had to still use quite a bit of my house for storage purposes, and there was no running water or shop sink, which meant I had to walk up to the house anytime I needed access to water or it was time to clean up.

Right now my family is renting a house–we may be buying sometime soon, but for now this is where we are, and I have been using this spare room as my studio:

Cedar Lee Art Studio

It’s beautiful and has enough light. But there are a few major problems. First, I’m constantly worried about getting a drip of paint on the nice wood floors.

Second, the room is not separate enough from the rest of the house. It is right off the living room, with the dog and the kids walking in uninvited constantly, and lots of background noise right outside the (non-locking) door in the rare event I can manage to have the door be closed at all. The floor gets overrun with toys and dog hair, despite having rules about everyone staying out of the studio. (In fact, I just have to laugh, since both my giggling children (whose Internet names are Blazington and Oinker) and my stinky dog are all within a few feet of my desk in the studio as I type at this very moment.)

Third, there is no shop sink anywhere in this house. Cleaning up oil paints/solvents in the kitchen sink does not work for me, no matter how much I make a point to minimize the mess and wipe with paper towels first.

Fourth, there is not enough space to keep a proper drying rack–I’m referring to two sawhorses with 2×4’s across them so you can dry 3-4 medium to large-scale paintings all at once. To have an efficient production system and high creative output, a big drying rack is an absolute necessity when you’re working with oils, which take a long time to dry.

All of these small logistical problems have hampered my efforts to create over the past month.

It actually doesn’t take a whole lot to be able to create lots of artwork, and different things work for different people. Some artists may be able to focus even when children are present. Some artists work in a medium that doesn’t require them to have access to a shop sink for cleanup. Some artists work very small-scale, which eliminates the need for lots of space. Etc.

But the things I’ve found I can’t do without are: Privacy/relative quiet. Good light. Enough space for storage of canvases, tools, painting supplies & a drying rack. A shop sink.

And–this is a conversation for another day, something the availability of which varies wildly from one artist to another, but is generally in short supply when said artist has multiple small children at home–allotted time to work! Even with not much allotted time available, having a designated space to go that is separate from your home can make a huge difference on that front.

So, back to a rental studio I go! I’ve found a great little space in this building in downtown Portland, and will be moving most of my painting setup over there this week:

ActivSpace

I’m renting month-to-month, so it’s not a huge commitment, which is nice. If/when we move to a house that can accommodate a back yard studio again, then I can move out of this place with short notice if need be.

The studio I am getting has a gigantic window for both light and ventilation, high ceilings, a painted floor (so if I drip paint all over it, no big deal–I can just re-paint the floor later), enough space for a proper drying rack, and a shop sink right there in the room. All that will make it worth the commute, as often as I can get over there.

Knowing it is a short-term solution, I have to say I am pretty stoked. The building does not have public access, but as always, I will be available for studio visits by appointment–just ask!

The one complication is that, while I’ll have my whole art studio operation moved to this other building, my home office will stay at home–that is, my desk, computer, files, office supplies, and all my correspondence and book-keeping will be in one place, with my art-making in another place.

This is not a huge problem–it just means I’ll have to plan ahead more with certain things.

I’ll have to lug my camera equipment from home to photograph new work at the studio, then the card back home to upload the images onto my computer–or alternately, lug the new artwork home to photograph it there. If I need to write the inventory control numbers on the backs of some new pieces, I’ll have to make a note of that information from my computer before I leave for the studio–or perhaps, just get better about using Google drive… If I decide to work on some smaller pieces from my studio at home, I’ll need to make sure I have a drop cloth and all the necessary supplies at home that day.

So, I anticipate things traveling back and forth a lot in the back of my car. With a little planning, it’s no biggie. We do what we need to do to make things work.

Pictures of the new studio space–and of course, new art–will be coming soon! :)

Little Me With the Big Trees

April 27th, 2015

I call this painting “Little Me.” It is consistent with my redwood forest series, except for one special detail: the addition of a human form, something that I have purposely left out until this point.

I have been wanting to do this for a while–seeing visions in my mind’s eye of little silhouetted people walking on the forest floor underneath giant sequoias. I think one thing that’s been stopping me is the challenge of depicting these trees in accurate scale to people. How to show the sheer enormity of the trees without completely losing the person? I do want the person to be a focal point.

My solution was to make the person a bit larger than she would be in real life. If I were to paint it to scale, (in real life, some of these trees are 300′ tall!) the little person would be about a third of the size that I’ve actually painted her. Here, she is central to the story but still tiny in the towering forest.

Little Me. 40" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Little Me. 40″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Tiny, yes, but standing straight, her head lifted and her hair trailing behind her, mid-stride.

I love how she was created with a few mere brush strokes–there is no detail. Her form is only hinted at, a gesture, a snapshot, a blur. Yet she has such presence as she interacts with her surroundings. You can see her soaking up her environment, the sun on her face, the wonderful views of the forest laid out before her as she moves through it.

Detail: Little Me. 40" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Little Me. 40″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

As I was painting this I was thinking about the immediacy of life. Our time here is fleeting, but while we are here on Earth, while we are alive, the experience of being is so intensely colorful and real. This tiny woman is feeling the immediacy. She is saying, “Thank you for this moment. I am alive. Right now.” Of course it’s easy to feel that way when you are in the giant sequoia forest! To feel alive like that in the midst of the everyday, in the mundane, through pain and boredom, can be a challenge.

The power of art, demonstrated: I hope you can feel it now!

The light from above is a diffused gold-green glow down on the forest floor, but up high in the treetops you can see the sunbeams shining down.

Detail: Little Me. 40" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Little Me. 40″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

The painting continues around the edges.

Detail: Little Me. 40" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Little Me. 40″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

At 40″ x 30″, this painting fills the room with a mood of bright, singing energy.

Oil painting displayed in a room: Little Me. 40" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Oil painting displayed in a room: Little Me. 40″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

The variation of warm colors in the tree trunks–chocolate brown, brick red, and gold–play off the pale yellow background light and the sage green leaves.

Oil painting displayed in a room: Little Me. 40" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Oil painting displayed in a room: Little Me. 40″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

 

Art Exhibits in Portland, Oregon

April 21st, 2015

After the big move from San Diego, things still haven’t quite settled for my family–we are now looking to buy a home, and another move sometime in the next few months is imminent. I have been spending many hours each day house-hunting!

I have started a few projects in the studio, but I’m not yet back to putting in regular studio hours.

Even so, I haven’t wasted any time officially becoming “Portland artist Cedar Lee!” I have two very exciting things coming up in June.

The first is a month-long solo show at LifeQual Center just west of Portland in Beaverton, OR. It is an absolutely gorgeous health facility with high ceilings and these huge expansive walls to be filled with large paintings. Walking into this place, I immediately feel serene. It is full of light, quite, and peaceful with a spa-like atmosphere. I am so excited and can’t wait to see my art here. There will be an opening event around the first of June–more news to follow.

LifeQual Center

Also in June, starting in time for Portland’s First Thursday June event, I’ll be showing several of my large-scale redwood tree paintings at the beautiful Attic Gallery in downtown Portland!

I am so pleased that they will be giving me a bit of their coveted wall-space, as they are booked with exhibits a year in advance. They found a way to squeeze in just a few of my pieces anyway, as soon as their calendar would allow! It will be exciting to see the response to my work from Portland’s urban art enthusiasts.

By the way, if you are local to Portland and you haven’t yet visited Attic Gallery, it is worth stopping in! The artwork is simply stellar–you will be inspired.

Attic Gallery

This is all wonderful news for me, of course. But it also means the heat is on. Children underfoot or not, ideal studio space or not, now is the time to dive back into my usual furious paint-slinging and tap into my latent creativity once more.

Nothing like promising work to a bunch of expectant people to light a fire under your butt, right? I’m on it!

My Techie Roots: The Advantages of Being a Multi-Skilled Artist

April 9th, 2015

In case you missed it, this article about the “birth of the creative entrepreneur” is a pretty good read. While of course the world and the way artists work have both changed drastically throughout history, a lot of this boils down to semantics and labels. True creativity and artistry, though always subject to interpretation and judgement, will never die as long as humanity exists.

Anyway, I do 100% consider myself both an “artist” and a “creative entrepreneur.” I believe that a huge part of succeeding as an artist today is that entrepreneurship. This means that a lot of artists wear many hats and possess many marketable skills that they choose to put into their own businesses. One of the most crucial skills a professional artist needs today is a certain degree of technical literacy.

Right now I’m composing this blog in WordPress.

composingwordpressblog

I manage all the design and updates of my website myself because I have the skills to do so. I don’t even know how to calculate what it would have cost me to pay someone else to do this over all these years! I am partly self-taught and partly taught by others.

I took college courses for some skills, like digital photography and Photoshop. Other skills, like WordPress design, search engine optimization, and business development through social media, are things I just sort of picked up through years of continuous effort.

aphotoshoptask

I know how to upload things via FTPS. I know how to customize Facebook privacy settings and manage lists and groups to use the site exactly how I choose. I know which video settings to use when uploading my particular video files to YouTube. I know how to add tags to photos so they’ll be picked up in Google image searches. I know little basic PC things, like how to run backups of my data, and how to keep a database of my art inventory.

To me, none of these things seem like a big deal, or anything particularly noteworthy. But I realize that all of it adds up to a vast body of knowledge, which, I know through speaking to lots of my fellow artists, we do not all share. While of course I’ve done a lot of hard work to learn all this stuff, I’m lucky because it is intuitive to me.

My family includes a lot of tech professionals–programmers, web developers, IT security experts. I’m even married to a techie! The acronyms fly fast and hard at every family reunion. (You know the ones.) And a lot of that goes over my head as my eyes glaze over. But throughout my life, I can also see that a lot of it has stuck.

My technical background/aptitude/comfort level is something I hugely take for granted. I get a lot of requests for advice from artists who don’t know where to start, asking things like “How did you make your website?” or “How do you get such good images of your art?” or “How do you get people to follow your content online?”

The truth is there are no quick answers to these questions. I can usually point someone in the right direction, but without building up a certain level of expertise through many hours of study, you’re not going to be able to present yourself or your artwork professionally in today’s world.

inventory

I kind of feel the same about having good writing skills–some people have them, some people don’t, and they can be directly applied to an artist’s business. An artist’s business is of course entirely dependent on creating the art itself. Beyond that, though: when I think about all the success I’ve had showing my work, sharing my work, and selling my work over the years, I couldn’t have done any of it without developing both my technical skills and my writing skills.

There are probably many other skills I have and take for granted, and others I should spend some more time building. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

What skills do you think are crucial for a “creative professional” today?  What skills are optional but might give an artist a big leg up?

Great Loss

March 24th, 2015

I have not yet re-started “official” work in the studio since my family’s big move to Portland, Oregon. I am taking some time off–something I haven’t done since having a newborn in the house! That said, it feels like the farthest thing from a vacation–We have just put our California home on the market after much intensive work. Now my task is to get my children and family settled in our new city and start the process of building a new network of friends, contacts, and colleagues from the ground up. My new work routines will fall into place and I will be back to creating as soon as I’m ready.

I want to thank all my friends around the world for continuing to follow me online even though I will be easing back into my work at a snail’s pace. I am going through an intense time. I’ve lost two close family members within the last month.

This painting is one of my favorites from a long time ago–painted in 2007.

Sailboats at Sunset. 18″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2007 Cedar Lee–SOLD

My Aunt Nancy died a few weeks ago, suddenly, unexpectedly, and way too young. I am still in shock and at times this doesn’t feel real. She owned this painting and hung it across from her bed so it was the first thing she saw every morning.

I painted it from a photograph taken on a visit to the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I love it because it’s simultaneously peaceful and thrilling, with the calm water and quiet little boats in the foreground, but a riotously colorful sunset and glowing red mountains in the background. You can tell the play of light across the sea is constantly shifting. I particularly love the deep turquoise in the foreground, and that glowing pink shifting into burnt orange on the mountains in the far distance.

This painting will always make me think of my vivacious, loving aunt, who was always one of the biggest supporters of my work. She purchased many of my paintings and frequently sent flowers to my art openings.

My other big loss was my Grandma, who died last week after a long and painful illness–Alzheimer’s. If you’re familiar with Alzheimer’s, you’ll know I’ve already been mourning her by increments for years. I am happy she’s not suffering anymore. That said, I am shocked how deeply I am feeling her loss now. I suppose there is no wrong way to grieve.

My Grandma was a professional violinist and a big-hearted humanitarian who spent her life loving and caring for others. I have no words for how grateful I am to have had her in my life.

Grandma owned this painting: The Big Sky. 40″ x 50″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee–SOLD

The Big Sky. 40″ x 50″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee–SOLD

She told me the reason she had to own it was that it epitomized the spirit of springtime and made her heart sing! Even though I’d sold paintings before, I consider this the first painting I sold at the beginning of my professional art career, as I created it during my last semester at Goucher College during my independent study in painting, and it was the first painting sold as an art school graduate.

It’s hard to say where I would be without supportive family cheering me on throughout my artist’s life. But I do not take it for granted. Both of these beautiful mother-figures have enriched my life beyond measure. I will honor both of them for the rest of my life with my future artwork. Please keep me in your thoughts during my time of grief.

I do think an artist’s work is all entwined with their life path–when you look back it’s impossible to separate the two. So, I am curious to see where my creativity will take me next, when I come out the other side of all these massive life changes! Stay tuned…

Moving to Portland, Oregon!

January 27th, 2015

If you’re part of my personal circle of friends, you may have already heard that I am moving with my family to Portland next month!

My studio has been packed away.

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, emptied before move to Portland, OR.

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, emptied before move to Portland, OR

I have stopped painting to make the move happen and will pick back up once I’m settled in a new studio in March.

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, emptied before move to Portland, OR

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, emptied before move to Portland, OR

The long and short of it: When my husband Kevan and I purchased our sprawling home in rural Escondido 3 years ago, we had always intended it to be a short-term investment, so all along we were planning to move whenever the time was right.

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, shown here with dog, Blake.

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, shown here with dog, Blake.

My husband Kevan has gotten an unexpected work opportunity which will allow him to work from home, at least for the time being. This means we can now have both parents working from home while at the same time reducing our cost of living so we have a bigger childcare budget.

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, emptied before move to Portland, OR

Art studio of Cedar Lee in Escondido, emptied before move to Portland, OR

As you all know, my kids are still very young, and I’m a work-at-home-mom, which has made the running of my growing business, Art By Cedar, a huge challenge for me, to say the least. With this arrangement, our hope is that with both parents around, I’ll have more time to devote to my work!

This also means, provided we can make a move happen, we can now choose to live wherever we like. And Portland is calling to us!

Our many reasons include the lower cost-of-living (that is, compared to the astronomical costs in Southern California), amazing restaurants, plentiful dog parks, bike-riding, a lush green environment that is a gardener’s paradise, hikes in the woods and along the river, and being walking distance to many conveniences.

We can’t pass up the opportunity for a grand adventure!

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee's Escondido studio.

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee’s Escondido studio.

Despite how exciting this is, I’m so going to miss the unique beauty of the open skies, sunshine and rolling hills that surround my home.

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee's Escondido studio.

Not only am I going from a sunny, dry (too dry!) climate to a rainy climate, but I’ll also be morphing from a country girl to a city girl–this will inevitably be a shock, no matter how thrilling, for my whole family.

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee's Escondido studio

I am doing the hard work of saying goodbye to a place I’ve grown to love.

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee's Escondido studio

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee's Escondido studio

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee's Escondido studio

Last week, I bid an emotional farewell to the artist’s group I founded, the North County Painters Critique Group, when I attended my last meeting before the move.

Beautiful landscape surrounding artist Cedar Lee's Escondido studio

We are packing up our stuff into a storage container.

Artist Cedar Lee moving to Portland

Artist Cedar Lee moving to Portland

Artist Cedar Lee moving to Portland

My home office is bare.

Artist Cedar Lee moving to Portland

Packing is in full swing!

Artist Cedar Lee moving to Portland

And our home is in utter chaos. Most of my paintings, about $50K in art inventory, are already in storage, with a few most recently-painted stragglers still hanging on the walls so they can safely keep drying until the last minute.

Artist Cedar Lee moving to Portland

Artist Cedar Lee moving to Portland

My forest paintings are already reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest! I am so excited, my mind thrumming with all the possibilities. Wish me luck!

(I am aware my blog comment system is on the fritz, which I will resolve as soon as possible. During the transition of my move, you may email me, or contact me over on my Facebook page.)

First Painting of 2015: Awakened Hope

January 3rd, 2015

This large painting is titled “Awakened Hope.” It seemed a fitting title for the painting I’ve been working on during the transition from one year to the next. Because of the sunny colors and the feeling of openness in the space between the towering trees, it gives me the feeling of light flooding into a new day, a fresh start, a renewed purpose.

By painting the forest in these somewhat unnatural colors–(these shades of cranberry red, violet and turquoise aren’t usually seen in this setting in real life)–my intent was to use color as a tool to express the welling-up of emotion that is hopefulness. The colors sing! In this bright and open space we can imagine a brief rest where we pause to wipe the slate clean. Then, feeling renewed, we can embark once again on our journey–pushing forward onto the next leg of the hike.

Regardless of what others see–everyone sees different meanings in art–this is the meaning I see in this image, and it gives me a feeling of strength!

Awakened Hope. 36" x 36", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Awakened Hope. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

I need this strength now, as my family is about to go through an intentionally created change. After much deliberation and weighing of options, my family has made the decision to sell our home and move on to another big adventure! While we naturally have mixed feelings, we are also very excited about what is to come! I do not yet know the particulars of where/when, but I will share the news as it comes in.

I will be taking a brief hiatus from work in the studio to focus on cleaning, house-painting, packing, and the logistics of moving.

Right after completing this painting, unsure how much more artwork I would be able to create in this studio before our move, I had a quick “Artist in Her Studio” photo shoot done. Here you can see Awakened Hope plus several of my other most recently completed large-scale paintings–the oil colors all still in varying stages of drying in the studio.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio with her large-scale oil paintings of the redwood forest. January 2015.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio with her large-scale oil paintings of the redwood forest. January 2015.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio with her large-scale oil paintings of the redwood forest. January 2015.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio with her large-scale oil paintings of the redwood forest. January 2015.

These pictures really show the impressive scale of this 3-foot painting. I can’t wait to see how it looks hung on the wall of a home!

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36" x 36", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36" x 36", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36" x 36", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36" x 36", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio, January 2015, with her large-scale oil painting of the redwood forest, Awakened Hope. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee.

Dance of the Redwoods

December 13th, 2014

My newest creation: Dance of the Redwoods!

This painting gives me the feeling of being lost in the woods–not lost like you can’t find your way, but lost like you’ve surrendered to the moment–you look up, you see the tall trees, the fluttering leaves, the golden sunlight and colors dancing all around you. You stand in the middle of this clean, vibrant, living place. Everything is still–but within the stillness, there is a dance, an underlying order and sense of movement–and it’s glorious.

Dance of the Redwoods. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Dance of the Redwoods. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

I’ve been combining techniques to achieve interesting effects: layering different paint mediums, thin oil glazes over thick wax, rough palette knife painting alongside details made with tiny brushes.

The result is very abstract when you look at things up close, but the big picture is representational of the natural world.

Here are some close-up detail shots of the interesting textures and effects:

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting: Dance of the Redwoods. Dance of the Redwoods. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Here’s what this painting might look like in a light, airy room:

Painting by Cedar Lee shown in a room: Dance of the Redwoods. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Painting by Cedar Lee shown in a room: Dance of the Redwoods. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

The studio today, from the vantage point of the drying rack:

Paintings in art studio of Cedar Lee, December 2014

Paintings in art studio of Cedar Lee, December 2014

I’m working on a new 36″x36″ piece that I hope to finish over the next couple of weeks. As I move on to the next paintig, I’m using everything I’ve learned while doing the last one!

Welcome the Sun

December 6th, 2014

I was thinking a lot about the upcoming Winter Solstice while creating this painting.

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, aside from the obvious pleasures of hot tea, simmering stews, cookies in the oven, Christmas lights, cozy socks, and time spent with family by the fireplace. The solstice is the time when we start moving back away from long winter nights, when we officially can start looking forward to the long evenings we’ll spend outdoors in the following spring and summer. This is when we start the steady unfolding process of coming out of hibernation! Even in this relatively mild climate, where we don’t experience the bone-deep cold of winter, we are still deeply affected by the darkness.

Welcome the Sun. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Welcome the Sun. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

I’ve always felt grateful for our sun, warming our planet and allowing life to flourish here. Giant sequoias are the most grandiose of all plant life on earth, powered by sunlight! I titled this painting “Welcome the Sun.” This circle of trees all reach upwards into a central focal point of brilliant warm light. I am in love with the resulting fishbowl effect.

This painting is also a metaphor for the choice we can make as humans to reach towards the light parts of ourselves and of humanity, choosing to amplify the good. I often find myself beaten down by the darkness. News of injustice, the harshness of the world, the hatred and violence humanity inflicts upon itself, can leave me feeling hopeless. For me, that’s the time to remember how much love and goodness we are also capable of–this is the light of kindness, responsibility, knowledge, hope and progress.

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

The colors and textures of this painting are decadent! With each new painting, I am still playing with and developing my newest technique. I start by applying a very thick layer of cold wax medium mixed with oil paint, slapped on with palette knives and manipulated to create peaks, valleys, ridges and various scratched and scraped-0n textures. I work explosively fast in this fun and playful stage.

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

When that layer dries, I then come back with brushes to refine the image and add detail with several layers of glazing. I intentionally leave some parts rougher and more abstract.

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

The final result is a luscious painterly effect, with the underlying texture creating the roughness of the tree bark and movement in the foliage and sky!

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of painting by Cedar Lee: Welcome the Sun. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Next »