Liberty

July 3rd, 2015

When I was about 11 years old, my family lived briefly on a farm way out in the country in Coburg, Oregon, a bit north of Eugene. I was allowed to take off into the woods near our home, exploring by myself for hours at a time. I crossed meadows and waded over the cold rocks of creek beds, eventually returning home with buckets of wild blackberries and flowers in my hair.

Actual picture of me around that age–note the hair!

Cedar Lee around age 11

Cedar Lee around age 11

This is from a poem I wrote about that time in my childhood:

If I could once again
gallop through fields of thick ripe grass
with scattered bluebells, orchids, daffodils,
ringing dots that punctuate the green;
and catch muddy salamanders in cold streams,
and in solitude discover worlds,
barefoot, bronzed, with my lion’s mane, I’d be
a wild strong girl.
I’m healthy now, of course, strong-willed, no doubt.
It’s the girl who ran so free
that’s lost to me; it all ran out.

Well, as soon as I finished this painting, it made me think again of being that freedom-loving little flower child, the feeling of it flooding back so intensely that I knew it was never really lost—that individualistic spirit is built into my personality and my basic approach to life, and I’ll always have it.

Liberty. 24" x 24", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Liberty. 24″ x 24″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Independence, not just as a nation but on an individual scale, is an American ideal. That freethinking, self-reliant part of me is partly an inborn trait. But it’s also a product of growing up in a culture that encourages that trait to emerge.

Close-up detail of oil painting by Cedar Lee: Liberty. 24" x 24", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail of oil painting by Cedar Lee: Liberty. 24″ x 24″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

I finished this painting right in time for 4th of July, which seems perfectly fitting—this image celebrates the very essence of autonomy, not to mention the glorious beauty of our nation’s old growth forests! Happy Independence Day!

Purchase Art For Nepal

June 30th, 2015

All my artwork currently available through my gallery in Encinitas, CA, Earth’s Elements, will be sold with 100% of the proceeds donated to Californians for Nepal, to rebuild schools in communities devastated by the earthquake earlier this year. The owner of the gallery, Hem Rai, recently returned from a trip to Nepal to help the relief effort there.

Here are some of my paintings available at Earth’s Elements–all for $300 and under! If you are in the San Diego area, go check them out.

Earth’s Elements • 559 South Coast Highway 101 • Encinitas, CA 92024 • 760.230.6145

Lotus paintings by Cedar Lee

Lotus paintings by Cedar Lee

Space paintings by Cedar Lee

Space paintings by Cedar Lee

Sunflower paintings by Cedar Lee

Sunflower paintings by Cedar Lee

 

6 Words That Bring More Art Buyers

June 20th, 2015

“I offer interest free payment plans!”

These 6 words are responsible for getting many of my paintings into the hands of excited art buyers–people who, without the option of a payment plan, would’ve passed the artwork by because of the upfront cost of buying it, no matter how much they fell in love with it.

If you’re an artist trying to sell your valuable originals, and you don’t state clearly and often that you offer payment plans, you are most certainly missing out on sales. A payment plan might allow someone to purchase your art, when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to because of cash flow problems. And, it’s something that does not occur to most people to ask about, unless you present it as an option.

 Sapphire Eclipse. 20" x 60",  Oil on Canvas (3 panels), © 2011 Cedar Lee

Art By Cedar purchased in the past with a payment plan: Sapphire Eclipse. 20″ x 60″, Oil on Canvas (3 panels), © 2011 Cedar Lee

You might see keeping it interest-free as a hit to your income, but it’s not–especially if that income wouldn’t exist at all without offering this perk. Look at the long-term.

Here are some tips for offering payment plan options to your clients, even if you, like me, are a one-person small operation without a real “billing department.”

Have a policy in place that clearly states the limits of how many months you are willing to drag out payments. In general, for paintings $300 and under, I’ll offer “up to 3 months” and for paintings over $300, it’s “up to 6 months.” You can find your own comfort level. For me, I prefer not to have an open payment plan going for more than 6 months, and for it to be worth my time to manage the account, payments of at least $100/month make it feel worth the time and the extra work of collecting multiple payments. I make exceptions to these general rules sometimes, especially for friends.

Twin Trees and the Milky Way. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © Cedar Lee 2013

Art By Cedar purchased in the past with a payment plan: Twin Trees and the Milky Way. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © Cedar Lee 2013

If you don’t already, you need to have a good invoicing system in place. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. I have a blank invoice document that I fill in for each sale. I keep all my invoices sorted by year in an “Invoices” folder. Pretty straightforward. I collect the buyer’s email address, phone number, and mailing address. I itemize the invoice to show the subtotal, sales tax and shipping charges (if applicable) added up to a “grand total.”

The grand total is the number I divide to make up a payment plan. Here’s an example:

Say for the sake of easy math that the grand total is $1,000. You can tell the person, “I can offer you either a 4-month or 6-month payment plan. The 4 month plan would be paid off in October, and the payments would be $250/month. The 6-month plan wouldn’t be paid off until December, but the payments would be only $167/month.” They can then choose the option they prefer.

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

Art By Cedar purchased in the past with a payment plan: Awakened Hope. 36″ x 36″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Make it extra clear that the artwork does not ship out until it is paid-in-full. I sometimes will transfer the artwork to its new owner sooner, if the buyer is someone I know personally and trust. If you don’t trust the person implicitly, it’s better to play it safe and hang onto your artwork until the last of the funds have cleared.

When it’s getting towards the end of the payment plan, I will always let them know that their artwork has already been carefully packed and will ship to them immediately when I receive the last payment. The anticipation of finally getting their new art sometimes prompts people to pay off their balance early!

Tranquil Moonlight. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas. © Cedar Lee 2013

Art By Cedar purchased in the past with a payment plan: Tranquil Moonlight. 24″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas. © Cedar Lee 2013

So, once you and the client agree on a payment timeline, make sure to note that in detail at the bottom of their invoice.

Example:
4-month payment plan:
Due June 20: $250
Due July 20: $250
Due August 20: $250
Due September 20: $250

As soon as I receive the first payment, I tell them that the painting is then marked as “Sold” and reserved for them. I’ve never had a person fail to pay their balance–but if you’re worried about that possibility, you could state that the payments are non-refundable, or only partially refundable, depending on your comfort level.

Filtered Light. 20" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2012 Cedar Lee

Art By Cedar purchased in the past with a payment plan: Filtered Light. 20″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2012 Cedar Lee

So you’ve gotten the first payment as a deposit and the person is stoked about being able to own the artwork 4 months from now! How do you collect the rest of the payments?

Personally, I am a fan of Google calendar, which I can set to send me notifications through email as well as my phone. The very instant that a client agrees to a payment plan, I sit down and take a moment to program reminders to myself a couple days before each due date in my calendar. On those days, when my calendar reminds me, I send the person a PayPal request. Most people pay promptly, but occasionally a reminder a week or two later is needed.

Portal. 24″ x 20, Oil on Canvas, © 2013 Cedar Lee

Art By Cedar purchased in the past with a payment plan: Portal. 24″ x 20, Oil on Canvas, © 2013 Cedar Lee

Whenever I receive a payment, I go back to the invoice and update it to reflect how many payments have been paid, and what the remaining balance is, and I email the updated invoice to the client with a cheerful thanks.

Example:
3 months in, the note at the bottom of the invoice has been changed to say:

4-month payment plan:
PAID June 20: $250
PAID July 20: $250
PAID August 20: $250
Due September 20: $250

And in the email to my client, I say, “Hi [Client], I received your payment #3 of 4 for [Artwork]! Your updated invoice is attached. Only one more payment and your painting will be on its way to you. Thanks!”

When they make the final payment, make sure you are on the ball to make good on your promise and get the work to them immediately. Send them a little note to say, “Congratulations on your beautiful new artwork!”

This system so far has never failed me–even when I’m managing several payment plans at once. Stay organized, keep your files updated, and follow the plan on the calendar.

eclipse ii

Art By Cedar purchased in the past with a payment plan: Eclipse II. 20″ x 20, Oil on Canvas, © 2011 Cedar Lee

You will gain and keep new fans of your work by making it accessible to more people. On top of that, it’s simply thrilling to share in the excitement of an art lover who is able to own a large and powerful art piece that they adore, because you’ve been willing to work with them on the payment. :)

Explorers

June 19th, 2015

In this painting, I’ve placed not one but two figures. They are so small in relation to the giant sequoias that you might miss them at first. Do you see them? Their identities and their relationship to each other are left to the imagination.

Explorers. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Explorers. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Over the past few years, I’ve felt lost more often than not.

3 1/2 years ago, my family made the trans-continental move from Maryland to California, then this year, another 1,000-mile move to Oregon, all for an array of reasons…practical reasons as well as dream-chasing reasons. This year I’ve experienced several major losses. And through it all, I’ve been the mother to two very young children while doing whatever I can to keep pushing myself to create art and to grow my business.

There has been a lot of upheaval and constant evaluation of priorities. In my case, I do believe that having to make many difficult choices is the sign of a wonderfully full life. And I remind myself that getting lost can be half the fun of the journey!

Explorers. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Explorers. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

This is what was on my mind as I painted this colorful scene, with a carpet of gigantic blue ferns on the forest floor, the two tiny figures walking side by side, their heads thrown back as they take in their majestic surroundings. The entire space is absolutely flooded with color and golden light.

Detail from painting by Cedar Lee: Explorers. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail from painting by Cedar Lee: Explorers. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Living in the moment, and letting go of all the potential outcomes of my plans, has always been a challenge for me. I want to be like these two people more of the time. I want to be a happy traveler, feeling the wonder as I take it in, and sharing this wonder with my companions.

Painting this grand and epic imagery has been changing the way I perceive my own life, and the way I see myself moving through life. Sure, there’s every reason to feel helpless and lost. But it’s also true that I am a daring adventurer, a creator of my own path, an explorer.

The amazing discoveries of new horizons in your life can be compounded when they are shared with others–family, friends, colleagues. Human connection is everything.

Are we ever really lost, when we are together?

Detail from painting by Cedar Lee: Explorers. 32" x 32", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail from painting by Cedar Lee: Explorers. 32″ x 32″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

The oldest & largest art gallery in Portland

June 10th, 2015

Last week’s First Thursday opening at Attic Gallery was fun. When I arrived, I was so excited to see all my work placed so prominently in the front window!

Attic Gallery is the oldest and largest art gallery in Portland, so this is an honor indeed–especially since they agreed to squeeze me into their schedule, which is already fully booked for the next year!

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with her oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with her oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

You can see my painting “Majestic Giants” placed in the center of the front window, with several of my other large-scale paintings visible in the background.

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee's oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee’s oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee's oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee’s oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

I feel like my artwork never fully translates through photos, because you can’t tell the scale of them. Here’s a photo with me in it for scale–but they are so much better in person, where you can get up close and check out the depth of the color and texture.

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with her oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with her oil paintings of trees at Attic Gallery

The owner of Attic Gallery, Diana Faville, founded the gallery in 1973 in the attic of her home, when she was a young mother. It has since grown into something wonderful. Her passion for art is evidenced by the wide variety of talent represented in the gallery.

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with Diana Faville, founder & owner of Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with Diana Faville, founder & owner of Attic Gallery

Diana’s daughter, Maria, works at the gallery and will greet you with a friendly smile.

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with Maria at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with Maria at Attic Gallery

I had a great time chatting with some of the other artists currently exhibiting there. Here is David W. Ferriday (with his work behind us.)

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with fellow artist David W. Ferriday at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with fellow artist David W. Ferriday at Attic Gallery

And Norwegian painter and singer Kristin Blix. I particularly enjoyed a group of small pieces she did in collaboration with her 4-year-old son.

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with fellow artist Kristin Blix at Attic Gallery

Portland, Oregon Artist Cedar Lee with fellow artist Kristin Blix at Attic Gallery

It was entertaining–as it always is at art openings where nobody sees you at first or knows you’re the artist–to sort of stand in the background and watch people walk in the door and observe their reactions to my work. For that moment, I can be like a fly on the wall.

It is always gratifying to hear a passing person say to whomever they’re with, “Ooh! Look at THIS!” while making a beeline for my paintings.

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

Art enthusiasts viewing paintings by Portland, Oregon artist Cedar Lee at Attic Gallery

If you’re in Portland and looking to feast your eyes on some art, I highly recommend dropping in on one of these First Thursday events. Lovely ambient music was provided this time by Tony Kalhagen.

Multi-instrumentalist Tony Kalhagen performing during June 2015 First Thursday opening at Attic Gallery

Multi-instrumentalist Tony Kalhagen performing during June 2015 First Thursday opening at Attic Gallery

Once you’re inside the gallery, it just goes on and on. In addition to the gigantic main gallery showroom, there are many back rooms also filled with incredible artwork. So many treasures to be found!

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

Artwork on display at Attic Gallery in Portland, Oregon

My paintings will be on display there through June 27th.

Attic Gallery: 206 SW 1st Avenue Portland, OR 97204   503.228.7830

Check it out!

 

A few shots of the new studio

May 29th, 2015

Just wanted to share a very quick few photos taken today in my new art studio. You can see the studio itself is still a blank slate as I’ve just moved in–no new art up on the walls yet. It is bright and spacious!

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

Mixing oil colors into cold wax medium on the floor, as I often do.

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

Sneak peek at just-started work-in-progress!

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

Laying out wet canvases to dry on the drying rack.

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

Oil painter Cedar Lee in her Portland, OR art studio

If you are local to Portland and you’d like to make an appointment for a studio visit, let me know!

And please do drop by this Thursday, June 4th for the First Thursday art walk at Attic Gallery–I’m planning to be there at least part of the evening between 6-9 pm, along with 5 of my large-scale paintings.

 

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!

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