The Lesson

February 5th, 2016

This painting is called “The Lesson.”

The branches of the Tree of Life spread in a graceful arc, leafy green across a clear sky.

The intricate mass of deep roots interweave around scarlet and black rocks into the red clay earth.

The Lesson. 16" x 16", Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The Lesson. 16″ x 16″, Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

And at the base of the tree, having hiked together to reach this spot, stand two figures, a parent and child. The parent reaches out to place a hand on the child’s back as they talk. Here is the lesson–the imparting of wisdom from parent to child.

I imagine the content of the lesson is in the symbolism of the Tree of Life itself–the way all life on Earth is connected and the way things circle back upon themselves in cycles and patterns.

Close-up detail: The Lesson. 16" x 16", Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail: The Lesson. 16″ x 16″, Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail: The Lesson. 16" x 16", Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail: The Lesson. 16″ x 16″, Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The Lesson. 16" x 16", Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The Lesson. 16″ x 16″, Oil on Wood, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Finding Gold

February 1st, 2016

This painting is called “Finding Gold.” A forest of tall trees with varying shades of reddish bark parts to reveal this single golden-toned tree in the center, with its roots spreading elegantly into the foreground.

Finding Gold. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Finding Gold. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

I can imagine walking through these sunny woods and coming across this gold tree with the interesting above-ground roots, feeling lucky to discover it. The lucky golden tree is lit up by warm sunshine, in this special spot hidden in the woods, peacefully silent except for the calls of birds overhead.

Close-up: Finding Gold. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up: Finding Gold. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The sunlight is so brilliant here that the background is almost completely washed out, but if you look closely, you can see in the distance the hints of other trees.

Close-up: Finding Gold. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up: Finding Gold. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The bright warm palette of yellow, orange, pink and red is made more intense by the few deep purple shadows, and the emerald green leaf canopy across the top.

Close-up: Finding Gold. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up: Finding Gold. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The painting continues all around the edges of the gallery-wrapped canvas.

Wind in Your Hair

January 27th, 2016

This fun, whimsical painting is called “Wind in Your Hair.”

A huge tree and a woman both stand silhouetted by bright sunlight, wind swirling around them. The movement, the color, and the imagery all came out onto the canvas with a fresh flourish, roughly and quickly.

Wind in Your Hair. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Wind in Your Hair. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The resulting artwork is a perfect representation of the invigorating feeling I have at this time of year. We are rushing towards the spring now. The days of sunshine and softness as the chill begins to lift are becoming more frequent. I’m about to choose seeds for my summer garden.

The big tree is painted in the unnatural colors of violet and magenta! Back-lit by golden light in a deep turquoise sky, it works.

Close-up: Wind in Your Hair. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up: Wind in Your Hair. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The woman, like the tree, is rooted and standing strong while the wind swirls over and around her. Her hair rises straight up into the air and whips wildly around her head!

Close-up: Wind in Your Hair. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up: Wind in Your Hair. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Bluebirds

January 25th, 2016

This painting, Bluebirds, tells an ambiguous story. The viewer can fill in the details, but I will let you know my own thoughts.

I painted it first, just allowing myself to follow the imagery in my mind, before I tried to interpret any meaning behind what I was painting. On the right stands a tall, dark, foreboding tree with bare branches, its whole form leaning towards the left. Stormy clouds fill the sky behind it.

As your eye follows the flock of bright blue birds over to the left, the storm clouds end and reveal a clear blue sky. All the bluebirds are fleeing the dark sky and the bare tree in favor of the distant tree in its autumn splendor, which still has all its leaves in glorious orange, red and yellow. Presumably, when the leaves fall off that one, they will head on to the next, flying south for the winter.

Bluebirds. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Bluebirds. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The little human stands at the base of the autumn tree. Watching the birds. Looking over towards the big bare tree and the storm clouds. For now, the human is safe in this beautiful spot, in the glowing light of the clear blue sky, with the glorious autumn leaves overhead and the golden light spread out on the ground below.

Close-up detail: Bluebirds. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail: Bluebirds. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The rocky ground, following the dark and stormy vs. clear and glowing energy in the sky, is full of warm gold and red tones on the left, which change to cold dark blue and black on the right. The rocks form a pattern across the ground that leads the little human on a pathway from left to right.

Close-up detail: Bluebirds. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up detail: Bluebirds. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

This painting for me is (and let’s face it, in some form all of my paintings are) about our mortality. We are all heading towards the winter of death. Each of us will watch the leaves fall. It’s a storm that’s coming.

But this is not just about death. It’s about the inevitable passing of time and change in general. You can’t stop the future marching on. We know where we are heading, but that doesn’t have to stop us from choosing to stand in the light and take in the color of our surroundings, every moment of being alive.

Maybe you have a different story about this painting. Either way, I hope it speaks to you.

Spring Eagle, Tree, Flowers, Moon

January 18th, 2016

Two new little paintings for you today!

This one is called Spring Eagle. This little blossoming tree stands high on a hillside thrumming with color. Our vantage point shows us the deep blue sky up above fluffy rolling clouds. We are up so high that the swooping eagle is slightly below us!

Spring Eagle. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Spring Eagle. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

I painted this mostly with a palette knife, the thick juicy gobs of color working together to create a loose, bold, fresh feeling!

Close-up Detail: Spring Eagle. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up Detail: Spring Eagle. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

My favorite thing about this painting is the riot of saturated colors–yellow, pink, blue, green, violet! This is how it feels to me when everything starts blooming in the spring, when you look around to notice little shoots coming out of the ground, little tightly-wrapped buds on all the trees, and the invigorating feeling of a fresh warm breeze after a long winter.

Close-up Detail: Spring Eagle. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up Detail: Spring Eagle. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Spring Eagle. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Spring Eagle. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

This painting is called Tree, Flowers, Moon. The ancient golden tree is glowing in the bright moonlit night.

Tree, Flowers, Moon. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Tree, Flowers, Moon. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

A lone visitor stares out in contemplation at the giant full moon.

Close-up Detail: Tree, Flowers, Moon. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up Detail: Tree, Flowers, Moon. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

There is a lot of thick texture in this one too, especially in the carpet of little flowers and delicate tendrils of tiny vines across the ground.

Close-up Detail: Tree, Flowers, Moon. 12" x 16", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up Detail: Tree, Flowers, Moon. 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

I have been working a lot of hours in the studio. My painting goals for 2016 may be too ambitious to reach in the end, but they sure have gotten me off to a great start so far! Here’s a sneak peek at the drying rack today:

Art studio of Cedar Lee, January 2016

Art studio of Cedar Lee, January 2016

I should have more new works photographed to share with you next week!

Mother

January 13th, 2016

I call this painting “Mother.”

The two little figures have come to visit this gigantic, ancient Tree of Life…the “mother tree.” It looks to me like they are on a special journey just to see this iconic, beloved tree.

It feels like a special spot. With a giant yellow full moon in the background, a spattering of twinkling stars, and the roots of the tree reaching down over a grassy hill covered in flowers, this peaceful image includes many elements of “mother nature.”

Mother. 16" x 12", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Mother. 16″ x 12″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

And finally, the mother theme is complete in the representation of the two people: a mother and her child. For me, there is so much meaning created by such simplified silhouettes! The shape of the mother’s body says, “come this way–follow me.” And to me, the child looks awestruck, his little head tilted back to look at his mother and the majestic golden tree she has brought him to see.

Detail: Mother. 16" x 12", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Detail: Mother. 16″ x 12″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Taking him new places, showing him new things, all while answering a never-ending barrage of questions about life, death, and the nature of the universe, the mother is a teacher, a guide, and an unwavering pillar of support. She equips her child with everything he will need to find the wonders of the Earth on his own.

Mother. 16" x 12", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Mother. 16″ x 12″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Bristlecone Pine in Red

January 9th, 2016

I’ve been working on some images of trees inspired by bristlecone pines–the oldest trees on earth! They have these thick, gnarly trunks that end in tiny little branches.

My current color palette is warm golden browns, scarlet, violet and yellow. In the background, a golden moon hangs in a golden sky.

Bristlecone Pine in Red. 16" x 12", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Bristlecone Pine in Red. 16″ x 12″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

We can see the deep roots growing down underground, weaving around rocks in the earth. I love this motif that I’ve created. You can see a few other versions of this theme in some of my previous paintings here, here, and here.

I didn’t realize it until after I made this painting, but I made the tree in the shape of a hand. Can you see it?

Hand shape for painting: Bristlecone Pine in Red

Hand shape for painting: Bristlecone Pine in Red

Just Go With It

January 4th, 2016

I kept having this image in my mind of a woman sitting on a branch way up high in this gigantic tree, back-lit by yellow sunshine, and surrounded by a flock of birds in motion. So I painted it!

This situation makes me feel part panicked and part inspired by the beauty of it, so it seems a fitting painting to share with you at the start of this new year!

Just Go With It. 20" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Just Go With It. 20″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

My family all agreed, when they saw the painting, that the woman is me. I didn’t intend her to be, necessarily, but it seems that often when I paint a woman she turns out looking a little like me, and I admit I can see it too.

So it’s me. And I’m alone, naked, up in this tree, with these rioting birds flapping all around my head. I can hear the birds calling all around me and far up above me. It’s springtime, with the tree erupting in yellow blossoms. I guess I ended up here through a series of choices, and collisions of random circumstance.

Will I find a way to climb higher, build a grand tree house at the top and make this tree my home? Will I scoot to the end of the branch and jump to the safety of the ground? Will the birds carry me away? Will I turn into a bird and learn to fly on my own?

Close-up Detail: Just Go With It. 20" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Close-up Detail: Just Go With It. 20″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Do you ever look around at your life and think, “How did I get here?” Well, it doesn’t really matter. The more important question is, “What’s next?”

So, wherever you find yourself at the moment in your life, I hope you’ll make the best of 2016, and have a happy new year!

Glowing Forest & Autumn Hunters

December 26th, 2015

Here are two forest paintings that were both commissioned to be given as Christmas gifts. Now that they have been unveiled to their recipients, I can share them with you!

Glowing Forest, given to a man by his doting husband in North Carolina:

Glowing Forest. 30" x 24", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Glowing Forest. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

This couple already owns several of my tree paintings and this is the newest addition to their collection, and by far my favorite. Their other paintings are some of my older work, and this new one, painted on a wood panel, with intense contrast and vivid colors, shows how my painting skills have grown since the first painting they purchased from me several years ago.

These close-up detail shots show the thick, juicy texture of the oil colors!

Detail: Glowing Forest. 30" x 24", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Glowing Forest. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Glowing Forest. 30" x 24", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Glowing Forest. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

One thing I really worked to achieve here is the glowing white light that fills the image, giving it a sunny mood and the clean, fresh feeling of a green forest.

Detail: Glowing Forest. 30" x 24", Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Glowing Forest. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Wood, © 2015 Cedar Lee

The second painting is a fall scene: Autumn Hunters.

Autumn Hunters. 24" x 18", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Autumn Hunters. 24″ x 18″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

I’m not sure exactly what kind of birds of prey these are meant to be. Their shapes, which you can especially see in the head of the bird on the left, were initially inspired by owls.

But then I realized just how high up in the sky they are flying, and also there being two of them, they started to look more like circling hawks to me.

Detail: Autumn Hunters. 24" x 18", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Detail: Autumn Hunters. 24″ x 18″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

It doesn’t really matter. I see them as symbolic of the two lovers who now own this painting–it was a gift to a woman in Maryland from her husband. :) It was thrilling to keep the secret from her for months as I worked on it, then shipped it to his work address so as not to blow the secret!

I really enjoyed painting the details of the branches with tiny brushes.

The happy recipient of the gift, just after she unwrapped it on Christmas!

Happy collector with Cedar Lee art: Autumn Hunters. 24" x 18", Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Happy collector with Cedar Lee art: Autumn Hunters. 24″ x 18″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

(Incidentally, you can also see a piece of one of my other paintings in the background behind her to the right. This family owns several of my paintings.)

And below, the new painting in their living room. I think the red/orange looks gorgeous against the blue wall!

On the left, you can see another of my paintings, Falling Leaves.

Two Cedar Lee paintings in collector's home. Left: Falling Leaves. Right: Autumn Hunters.

Two Cedar Lee paintings in collector’s home. Left: Falling Leaves. Right: Autumn Hunters.

And the portrait I posted last month, Sweet Siblings, also arrived in its new home in New York City just in time for Christmas, and the family loves it! Here are the photos they shared right after they unpacked it!

Art by Cedar Lee in Collector's Home: Sweet Siblings. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Art by Cedar Lee in Collector’s Home: Sweet Siblings. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Art by Cedar Lee in Collector's Home: Sweet Siblings. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

Art by Cedar Lee in Collector’s Home: Sweet Siblings. 30″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © 2015 Cedar Lee

How fun it was to be able to contribute holiday joy to some collectors of my work. I felt like a sort of Christmas elf. :)

My wish for 2016 is for health, adventures, to help others with generosity, and for my creativity to flow freely. 2015 has been a very hard and eventful year for me, full of big changes, big losses and big gains. I am ready for a clean slate. Happy Holidays to all!

Whoosh!

December 8th, 2015

With the theme of flying leaves still on my mind since my last painting, while also remembering a few previous paintings in which I depicted the silhouettes of flocks of birds, I wanted to paint a dramatic image of both leaves AND birds, seeming to fly towards and around the viewer in a big “whoosh!”

Whoosh. 18" x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

Whoosh. 18″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

Besides the beautiful movements of all those fluttering little objects filling the canvas, my other focus was to create glowing light and shadows created by a row of back lit trees, with columns of light shining through between the trees onto the red and orange foreground.

Close-up Detail: Whoosh. 18" x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

Detail: Whoosh. 18″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

One of my favorite parts are the spots where the distant, fuzzy outlines of the birds fly right alongside the colorful shapes of the leaves, sort of blending together against the blue sky like multi-colored confetti.

Close-up Detail: Whoosh. 18" x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

Detail: Whoosh. 18″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

The red/yellow/blue color palette is striking. I love this painting so much!

Close-up Detail: Whoosh. 18" x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

Detail: Whoosh. 18″ x 24″, Oil on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2015

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