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.

 

Eclipse Day Climber

February 17th, 2017

Here is my new oil painting “Eclipse Day Climber.”

Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I absolutely love the effect of the textured paint giving the mountains a rocky feel.

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I created this effect with the use of cold wax medium. When mixed with oil paints, it gives the paint a stiff, whipped texture like frosting. I painted the mountains only with palette knives.

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The textured mountains are contrasted against the flat, smooth sky, which glows golden.

I imagine the person’s trek to this vantage point was filled with challenge and peril, and worth every moment.

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The lone climber is treated to a spectacular view of the solar eclipse during the moment of totality. The sun’s corona is a blinding sliver of white light around the flat circle that is the moon. The mountainous landscape spreads out below in a gradation of color from nearly black in the foreground, to brown, red, orange and finally gold at the horizon.

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This painting is especially beautiful and inspiring because of its scale. At 30″ x 30″, it fills the whole room with its warm glow.

Art Studio of Cedar Lee. On easel: Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Art Studio of Cedar Lee. On easel: Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Here you can see “Eclipse Day Climber” displayed alongside my earlier painting “Corona.” Both paintings have a similar color scheme, similar rocky landscapes and warm glowing skies. Both feature a lone human figure interacting with a solar eclipse.

Studio020620174 Corona Eclipse Day Climber

Top: Corona. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee Bottom: Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

But you can see how I’m playing around with point of view, distances and the scale of the human figure in relation to the rest of the scene.

Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The painting continues around the very deep edges of the canvas, including the contrasting textures of the sky and the mountains.

Eclipse Day Climber. 30" x 30", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse Day Climber. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The wrap-around effect of the textured paint adds even more boldness to this original painting!

Cedar Lee in studio with Eclipse paintings. Left: "Eclipse Day Climber" Right: "A Dream of Joy and Sorrow"

Cedar Lee in studio with Eclipse paintings. Left: “Eclipse Day Climber” Right: “A Dream of Joy and Sorrow”

 

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Cardinal

February 13th, 2017

This was kind of a random painting for me. I painted it before I got serious about working in a consistent series of any one theme, just because I was motivated to practice realism and I wanted to paint a cardinal. So, stylistically it stands apart from my other paintings.

I love the pop of that hot red against the blurry blue background, and the bird’s little eye looking right out of the canvas at us.

Cardinal. 20" x 16", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2003 Cedar Lee

Cardinal. 20″ x 16″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2003 Cedar Lee

I donated this painting to a charity auction that ended up swindling me big-time. I had no contact with the organizer, as I’d given the painting via my friend who worked for the man. After the event was over, I found out from my friend that my painting had not sold to a bidder, so instead of returning the work to me, the man who organized this “charity auction” (my friend’s boss) had decided he liked the painting and had kept it for himself. Typing that sentence, even now I feel a tiny stab of hurt.

I intended my work to go towards a cause I believed in–feeding the hungry–and knowing that instead, it ended up hanging on this sleazy guy’s wall, was hard to stomach. At the time, I felt in an awkward position, and, assuming it was already too late to do anything about it anyway, I dropped it and moved on from the loss.

Most artists I know who have been working for many years have at least one story of losing artwork to unscrupulous people. It’s always heartbreaking no matter the circumstances. I hate that this happened to me, but it taught me a valuable lesson about protecting myself when donating artwork to a good cause. Today I have a pretty strict policy about donating, including a contract that specifies the donated work will go only to the charity, and if not sold, will be returned to me.

For anyone interested, several years ago I made this video on the topic for the benefit of fellow artists:

Why Is Art Expensive?

February 6th, 2017

Years ago, I wrote an article attempting to explain why art costs what it does, for anyone who may not know what goes on behind the pricing of the paintings you see in an art gallery or on an artist’s website.

I mostly wrote this because I am lazy. Whenever the question comes up, I can just direct people to my article rather than having to articulate the same answer again. My approach to art pricing continues to evolve over time, but the basic underlying factors remain the same. I’ve just posted my latest revision, adding a few new details.

Keep in mind: the numbers in this explanation are all hypothetical and are subject to individual variance in real life. Art, artists, and pricing methods come in infinite variations. This breakdown is given just to illustrate the general concept of a typical art pricing strategy.

Read my answer to this burning question: Why is art is expensive? If what I say makes sense to you, feel free to share the article with others.

In the studio this week, I am playing around with very thick paint! Here, the painting experience crosses into the realm of sculpture as three-dimensional forms rising off the canvas are created out of paint.

Close-up of work in progress by Cedar Lee

Close-up of work in progress by Cedar Lee

This is a sneak peek at a close-up of my current work in progress.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Watercolor Class

February 3rd, 2017

These two purple-dominant watercolors were done for one of my intro art classes in college. By the time I started college I already knew I was in love with acrylics, and in the years following, I would come to gradually fall in love with and switch to oils. Even though I didn’t end up using watercolor as my chosen medium, I’m glad I learned watercolor technique enough to understand the medium and become marginally proficient.

I took all the required studio classes for an art degree–drawing, painting, sculpture, video art, graphic design, photography…During these years I became very much involved in clay work on my own time, especially wheel-thrown pottery (I took several courses at Baltimore Clayworks, where I created most of the dishes currently in my kitchen cupboard) and I worked as a jewelry designer and taught bead-work classes to continuing ed students at a local community college.

In this painting, I took on the challenge of painting the way glass reflects and refracts light. Even though it’s not really my style, I still think it’s a beautiful painting. Fun fact: I still own that faceted crystal bowl on the left. These days, it usually holds lemons or garlic bulbs.

Glass. 11" x 14", 16" x 20" matted, watercolor on paper, © 2001 Cedar Lee

Glass. 11″ x 14″, 16″ x 20″ matted, watercolor on paper, © 2001 Cedar Lee

For any nipple-averse readers, oh no, cover your eyes! (Well, now it’s probably too late…)

Nude Statue. 11" x 14", 16" x 20" matted, watercolor on paper, © 2001 Cedar Lee

Nude Statue. 11″ x 14″, 16″ x 20″ matted, watercolor on paper, © 2001 Cedar Lee

I find this painting pretty funny: the body of a woman but without a head or arms. All the important parts are included though, right? You guessed it: this was a mannequin in the college’s art studio used as a prop for students to practice drawing and painting the human body. As silly of a painting as this is, I admit I am partial to that little triangle of yellow on the rib cage on the left.

Eclipse From the Precipice

January 30th, 2017

In contrast to my last painting reminiscent of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this painting, “Eclipse From the Precipice” is more reminiscent of the desert mountains of Arizona. A lone intrepid hiker stands on the very edge of a cliff looking out at the moment of total eclipse looming huge in the glowing sky.

Eclipse From the Precipice. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse From the Precipice. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

You can see the lovely texture of the paint on the mountains, wax-thickened oils applied with palette knives, as opposed to the smooth texture of the sky, painted in thin oil glazes with a large brush.

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Because of this, looking at this painting is a much richer experience in person.

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

As opposed to some of my Eclipse paintings that show the craters of the moon, here I’ve painted the moon more as it actually appears during a real eclipse, as a flat black disk obscuring the sun. But I’ve painted the landscape in vibrant warm colors, giving an otherworldly effect to the scene.

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The intrepid hiker has no gender or age–this degree of anonymity hopefully allowing you as the viewer to identify with the person standing in this spot, beholding the glorious vista spread out before you. Of course, I imagine her to be me.

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I recently read the book Into the Wild, the true story of a young man who went alone into the wilderness of Alaska and did not make it out. While I don’t identify with the more extreme elements of this story, (give me the comforts of home!) I did love the descriptions of that feeling of being alone in nature, connecting with the earth and contemplating your own existence…depicting these feelings is central to my work.

Eclipse From the Precipice. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse From the Precipice. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

In indoor lighting, the orange and yellow tones of the painting really glow.

Art studio of Cedar Lee. On easel: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Art studio of Cedar Lee. On easel: Eclipse From the Precipice. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

You can see the richness of the color in these photos taken by lamplight at dusk in the studio last week, made all the more lovely by the cool blue light from the snow on the ground outside the windows.

Cedar Lee paintings in art studio

Cedar Lee paintings in art studio

That snow has now melted and the year is hurtling towards spring! I’ve decided to have another Spring Sale around May. Look out for news of that in the future.

Art Studio of Cedar Lee

Art Studio of Cedar Lee

In the meantime, I am in what I call “production mode” in the studio.

Eclipse paintings on drying rack in Cedar Lee art studio

Eclipse paintings on drying rack in Cedar Lee art studio

Eclipse Over Red Hills

January 27th, 2017

Here is “Eclipse Over Red Hills.” This image had been forming in my mind since my trip to visit family in Asheville, NC in December, so it was one of the first things I painted when I got back into the studio in the new year.

Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Of course, since I’m fully focused on my Eclipse series right now, depicting solar eclipses in an awe-inspiring way is forefront in my current art.

Detail: Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Here you can see the “diamond ring effect” in the sun’s corona at this moment of the eclipse. You can see I’ve painted the yellow/gold sky smooth and flat, while the texture of the moon and the land is an extremely thick texture created with cold wax medium painted on with palette knives.

Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see, are etched into my mind’s eye from the years I lived in Asheville during my teens. Seeing those mountains again this winter was a treat for me.

One of the distinctive features of this ancient mountain range is how ripply it is, the mountains spread over the land like a very rumpled blanket with many folds. Because of this, particularly when the sun is low in the sky, the mountains in the distance appear in a multitude of gradations of color. This effect has always inspired the way I paint mountains.

Detail: Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The painting, including the thick texture of the paint of the mountains and the thin smoothness of the paint of the sky, continues around the edges of the canvas.

Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The painting is only 12″ high. But it’s width is spread out over 36″. Because of the dramatic panorama format, it has the presence of a larger painting.

Paintings in art studio of Cedar Lee. On easel: Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12" x 36", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Paintings in art studio of Cedar Lee. On easel: Eclipse Over Red Hills. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I find this size and format particularly satisfying, and I have more paintings of this size planned.

My studio is starting to fill up with images of solar eclipses as I complete them!

Cedar Lee Eclipse paintings in art studio

Cedar Lee Eclipse paintings in art studio

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Purple Coneflower & Daisies

January 24th, 2017

I painted these two paintings in 2001. Today, I believe they hang in my parents’ home–as do many of my paintings from this time period.

I’ve always been inspired by flowers as a painting subject and obviously I still am. I am an avid gardener and observer of plant life…I’m not so hot at memorizing plant names, although I’ve probably picked up more of this side than I realize, just by loving to look at plants and grow them.

This one is called “Purple Coneflower” (the plant also know as Echinacea.)

Purple Coneflower. 24" x 30", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2001 Cedar Lee

Purple Coneflower. 24″ x 30″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2001 Cedar Lee

This one is “Daisies.”

Daisies. 24" x 36", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2001 Cedar Lee

Daisies. 24″ x 36″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2001 Cedar Lee

These paintings share a similar style: very bold colors, the flowers made up of flat shapes outlined in black, and the backgrounds made up of soft, fuzzy abstract shapes formed with big dots of the paintbrush, like a sloppy kind of pointillism.

To me, this brings to mind a photograph in which the flowers are in sharp focus, with the background out of focus to the point of being just a blur. Although my style has evolved over the years, you can still see hints of these aesthetic choices and motifs in my current Lotus paintings.

How did I arrive at this fun style? Well, in the year before I painted these, as part of my trial-and-error process of teaching myself painting, I created two amateur copies of the famous Tiffany stained glass windows, “Magnolia and Irises” and “Parrots and Blossoms.”

I only have these terrible photos of those, and when I say “terrible”–honestly, it looks like these photos were taken with a potato. Incredible how much digital photography has improved in less than two decades!

Magnolia and Irises:

Early work by Cedar Lee: Copy of Tiffany stained glass window

Early work by Cedar Lee: Copy of Tiffany stained glass window

Copied from this original:

Magnolia and Irises by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Magnolia and Irises by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Parrots and Blossoms:

Early work by Cedar Lee: Copy of Tiffany stained glass window

Early work by Cedar Lee: Copy of Tiffany stained glass window

Copied from this original:

Parrots and Blossoms by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Parrots and Blossoms by Louis Comfort Tiffany

I was already fascinated with painting shapes with sharp black outlines like a stained glass window, as you may remember from “Opposites Attract.” So, copying some gloriously beautiful real stained glass pieces seemed a natural evolution. You can see I made some changes and added my own twist to them, but even so, I didn’t sell these pieces or try to claim them as my own–they were just a student’s copies, done for my own self-education. I gave both of them to my parents as well–(lucky parents.)

Anyway, I’m so thankful I went off on that little stained-glass tangent so many years ago. This kind of aesthetic that combines line, shape, and color so boldly continues to influence my artistic decision in subtle ways to this day.

The Big Eclipse

January 20th, 2017

Finally–I give you my first completed painting of 2017!

The Big Eclipse. 30" x 40", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The Big Eclipse. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I love it. Its title is self-explanatory: “The Big Eclipse.”

Eclipse paintings in Cedar Lee studio. Top: A Dream of Joy and Sorrow, © 2016 Bottom: The Big Eclipse, © 2017

Eclipse paintings in Cedar Lee studio. Top: A Dream of Joy and Sorrow, © 2016 Bottom: The Big Eclipse, © 2017

Because of its large scale, the vibrant deep crimson layered with many colors, and the simple composition of the solar eclipse making a circle within the rectangle of the canvas, this painting has a powerful presence.

Painting on easel: The Big Eclipse. 30" x 40", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Painting on easel: The Big Eclipse. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Of course when viewing a real solar eclipse, the moon appears as a flat, dark disk. But I’ve made the artistic decision to show the details of the moon’s rocky peaks and craters.

Detail: The Big Eclipse. 30" x 40", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: The Big Eclipse. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

From afar, the image clearly reads as the much-loved, recognizable surface of our moon. But up close, you can see how loose I was with the paintbrush.

Detail: The Big Eclipse. 30" x 40", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: The Big Eclipse. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I walked that line between realism and playing with the messy paint. I painted the moon with mostly white and Payne’s gray, with a bit of burnt umber mixed in here and there.

Detail: The Big Eclipse. 30" x 40", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: The Big Eclipse. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The rays of the sun’s corona radiate out in all directions. Though red is the dominant color, many colors show up in the sky surrounding the eclipse, including yellow, orange, green, gray and brown.

The Big Eclipse © 2017 on drying rack in Cedar Lee art studio

The Big Eclipse © 2017 on drying rack in Cedar Lee art studio

I achieved this dynamic effect by working with several layers of glazes, so that each color would shine through the successive layers of color.

Gallery-wrapped painted edge of The Big Eclipse. Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Gallery-wrapped painted edge of The Big Eclipse. Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The painting continues around the deep edges, contributing to the impact of the piece and making it look fantastic as is, without the need for a frame.

Detail showing artist's signature: The Big Eclipse. 30" x 40", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail showing artist’s signature: The Big Eclipse. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Several more new Eclipse paintings are in various stages of drying and being photographed, so keep an eye out for more soon!

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