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

Sale of New Artworks by San Diego County Painter to Benefit Redwoods Conservation

December 6th, 2014

I’m excited to announce that, for the entire month of January, I’ll be donating a portion of sales from my studio to the Save the Redwoods League!

Artist Cedar Lee in her painting studio

You can read the full press release here.

8 Affordable Pieces By Me, Amidst Hundreds More!

November 19th, 2014

I will have 8 of my small paintings on display, each for sale for $100, below their retail value, as part of the 2014 Winter C Note Exhibition at San Diego Art Institute’s Museum of the Living Artist in Balboa Park. The sale opens on Saturday, November 22, but you can preview the exhibition on November 21.

The location of the museum in Balboa Park: 1549 El Prado, San Diego. If you’re standing in front of the big San Diego Museum of Art, facing out, SDAI/Museum of the Living Artist is across the courtyard, past the fountain, in the building on the right. Walk down the arched breezeway of that building and you’ll see it.

8 Paintings by Cedar Lee available in 2014 Winter C Note Exhibition at SDAI in Balboa Park

8 Paintings by Cedar Lee available in 2014 Winter C Note Exhibition at SDAI in Balboa Park

The hours you need to know are:

C-Note preview: 11/21 & 11/22/14 from 10 to 4 pm
C-Note Sale: 11/22/14 from 5 to 7 pm 
C Note Exhibition at SDAI Museum of the Living Artist

C Note Exhibition at SDAI Museum of the Living Artist

All artwork for sale will be priced $100-$300! Proceeds of the sale benefit arts programs in San Diego, so it’s a chance to get art at very good prices while also doing something good for the public. Check it out if you’re local!

1 more place to see my art: Earth’s Elements

November 11th, 2014

Exciting development: I’m now showing my work at a gallery in Encinitas, CA, Earth’s Elements.

Description from their website:

Earth’s Elements is a unique jewelry and fine art gallery in downtown Encinitas, California.  We offer beautiful handcrafted jewelry, fine art, furniture, Tibetan bowls, sacred art, tapestries and home decor items, books, and music.  We feature local artists, musicians, and authors as well as offering one-of-a-kind items from around the world.

This little gallery is tucked in amongst sidewalk cafes and boutiques in historic Encinitas’ shopping district along Coast Highway 101.

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth's Elements in Encinitas, CA

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth’s Elements in Encinitas, CA

If you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it, but then you step inside into a peaceful, colorful oasis of beautiful things.

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth's Elements in Encinitas, CA

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth’s Elements in Encinitas, CA

In addition to showing the work of California artists, the owner, Hem Rai, travels all over the world to find the handcrafted jewelry, furniture, sculptures and textiles on display.

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth's Elements in Encinitas, CA. Owner: Hem Rai

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth’s Elements in Encinitas, CA. Owner: Hem Rai

We just hung 5 of my paintings, which, if you’re local to Southern California, you can now go see in person anytime. You can see here at the top left a couple of my Tree of Life series as well as one of my cosmic pieces, “Passion.”

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth's Elements in Encinitas, CA

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth’s Elements in Encinitas, CA

And here at the top right, two of my images of redwood trees. For scale, the larger one, “Bright Woods” is 48″ x 36″. The walls of this open gallery space are soaring.

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth's Elements in Encinitas, CA

Cedar Lee art now available at Earth’s Elements in Encinitas, CA

The gallery is a 3-minute drive from Moonlight Beach, one of my favorite spots in the San Diego area. Another reason to make the trip. :)

Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, CA. Near art gallery Earth's Elements where Cedar Lee artwork is available.

Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, CA.

In other news, here’s me at the most recent Escondido Art Walk, with three of my recent large-scale paintings at Art Tradition Gallery in Escondido.

Artist Cedar Lee with her paintings at Art Tradition Gallery in Escondido, CA

Artist Cedar Lee with her paintings at Art Tradition Gallery in Escondido, CA

With 8 of my small paintings also going up for sale at SDAI Museum of the Living Artist’s upcoming 2014 Winter C Note exhibition opening on November 22, this month I am ridiculously busy showing my work all over the San Diego area!

Oxygen

October 31st, 2014

I just finished this big painting that I’ve been working on for weeks! I had a hard time titling it, because I wanted to choose a title that describes how the image makes me feel, and I ended up rejecting “The Richness of Life” (too cheesy), “Thrumming Color,” “Vibrant Forest,” and many other possibilities before finally settling on “Oxygen.”

The reason I chose “Oxygen” is when I am in this scene, experiencing it and absorbing it, yes–the colors are rich and exciting and full of emotion, but overall I just get a sense of breathing the fresh, clean air this gigantic forest is producing. The negative spaces in the sky–the light and the air–are what define this image for me as much as the dramatic forms of the trees themselves.

Oxygen. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Oxygen. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Standing small under these trees, we are surrounded by the exact formulation of atmosphere that allows humans to breathe, and it is mind-blowing to consider the specific course of events that had to have happened to even make life on Earth possible, much less such a beautiful phenomenon as this! Breathing in the clean oxygen-rich air while standing surrounded by deep woods gives me an exhilarated, heady feeling–and being in the giant forest is truly a humbling experience.

Of course I have used lots of artistic license here with my color choices and the way I’ve painted the forest. These deviations from realism are purposeful and meant to inspire in the viewer these emotions I feel.

You can see I am using a think impasto technique, which is especially cool as the tree trunks actually appear to have the rough texture of sequoia tree bark.

Detail shot of painting by Cedar Lee: Oxygen. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Detail shot of painting by Cedar Lee: Oxygen. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Most of the painting was done with a palette knife. I came in at the end to add smaller details with brushes.

Detail shot of painting by Cedar Lee: Oxygen. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Detail shot of painting by Cedar Lee: Oxygen. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

The painting continues onto the edges.

Oil painting by Cedar Lee: Oxygen. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Oil painting by Cedar Lee: Oxygen. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee in the studio with her painting: Oxygen. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee in the studio with her painting: Oxygen. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

At 30″ x 40″, my most recent pieces have a powerful presence. There are 2 more paintings of this size currently in progress.

Art By Cedar in Top 100 Art Blogs

October 25th, 2014

Exciting news! A journalist who writes for the NY Times has contacted me for permission to be included in this list of the top 100 art blogs for 2014. This is the second time I’ve been on this list–this time coming in at #72. Pretty cool!

Top 100 Art blogs

An infographic by the team at Rebates zone

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