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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Quest For Light

October 23rd, 2014

This painting is called “Quest For Light.” It shows two giant sequoia trees growing towards the sun, side by side. This competition for light between the individual trees in the forest, a fact of nature, is what has allowed some of them to grow to such tremendous heights.

The tree on the left is in shadow as it is back-lit by the sun–the light flowing around the edges of that tree strikes the tree on the right directly, so it lights up in red and gold. The differences in the colors of the two trees–the left one cool and the right one warm–creates a dynamic tension.

This painting is thrumming with life and bursting with light!

Quest For Light. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Quest For Light. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

This was enormously fun to paint–not just because the light, color, and forms here are exciting to me, but because this painting was my first major experiment using cold wax medium, allowing for an incredibly thick, rich texture to the painting’s surface.

The painting continues off the edges of the painting and around the sides.

Oil painting on birch panel in art studio of Cedar Lee: Quest For Light. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Oil painting on birch panel in art studio of Cedar Lee: Quest For Light. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

It looks amazing in my studio in the afternoon, with the green leaves outside the window and the sunlight streaming in. Perfect.

Oil painting on birch panel in art studio of Cedar Lee: Quest For Light. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Oil painting on birch panel in art studio of Cedar Lee: Quest For Light. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

At 30″ x 40″, it is quite large-scale and makes a huge impact when hung on the wall. Just right for a large wall in an entryway, or the space over a large sofa or bed.

Artist Cedar Lee with her painting: Quest For Light. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee with her painting: Quest For Light. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

It looks different under different depending on the lighting. This photo was taken in the studio shortly after dark, under indoor lights.

Artist Cedar Lee with her painting: Quest For Light. 30" x 40", Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee with her painting: Quest For Light. 30″ x 40″, Oil on Wood, © 2014 Cedar Lee

The Clearing

October 2nd, 2014

This painting is called “The Clearing.” It’s inspired by my hike around the Big Trees Trail in Sequoia National Park, which is a 1.2-mile loop that meanders around a gigantic open meadow. This easy hike was a unique experience during my visit to the Giant Forest, because it was the only place I visited where you could look across an open space from a distance and see an entire giant sequoia tree from the ground up.

The trails through the dense parts of the forest, in contrast, restrict your views as the giant trees surround you completely. You can only see the ones close to you, and only bits of the looming treetops of the ones further away. Think of it as seeing the Manhattan skyline from across the water as opposed to walking down the street in Manhattan.

The Clearing. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

The Clearing. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

I’m really pleased with the feeling of depth and the clarity in this painting. My recent experiments with very thick texture are paying off–the results are so juicy and expressive, and I get fun things happening like the texture in this sky:

Close-up detail of painting: The Clearing. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of: The Clearing. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

My favorite part of this scene might be these feathery branches reaching in from the side of the foreground, lit up brightly in the sunlight to really bring out the deep jewel tones of the shadowy background forest.

Close-up detail of: The Clearing. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of: The Clearing. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

 

Into The Sun

September 21st, 2014

This painting truly gives a feeling of the enormity of the giant sequoia trees. Looking at it, I can feel my neck craning and my jaw dropping in wonder as this giant tree simply towers above me!

This is my latest in the series I’m working on, with the help of photos I took recently while hiking in the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park.

Into The Sun. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Into The Sun. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

The part of this painting that is much better seen in person is the thick texture of the paint. I painted most of it with a palette knife, and only switched to using paintbrushes in the final layer of paint.

Close-Up Detail of: Into The Sun. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-Up Detail of: Into The Sun. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Here are a couple close-ups that really show the roughness of the texture created by the paint being spread onto the canvas freely–in places, rather than carefully mixing the paint, I simply slapped one color right next to another and smeared them together loosely.

Close-Up Detail of: Into The Sun. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-Up Detail of: Into The Sun. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Because of this loose technique, and the varying thickness of the paint, the effect is quite different when looking up close as opposed to backing up and seeing the big picture.

Close-Up Detail of: Into The Sun. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

Close-Up Detail of: Into The Sun. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee

For scale, here is the painting over a king-size bed.

Into The Sun. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee, shown in artist's bedroom

Into The Sun. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2014 Cedar Lee, shown in artist’s bedroom

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