From the Art By Cedar Archives: Autumn Clouds

October 16th, 2017

This painting embodies autumn.  It makes me think of tromping through the woods on a muddy trail through a carpet of colorful dried leaves, with my dog. The tips of my fingers and ears cold, breath puffing.

Because this experience of being under trees has filled so many moments in our lives, people often tell me my paintings bring back memories, from childhood or camping trips or some beautiful place they’ve known.

Autumn Clouds fall trees sky painting

Autumn Clouds. 44″ x 37″, Acrylic on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2006

The original, long-sold, is a large painting. You can now get a print of it from Fine Art America!

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Convergence

October 2nd, 2017

This is one of my early forest paintings, created shortly after graduating from Goucher College with my degree in studio art. I believe it was included that year in my first solo show in an arts center.

“Convergence”

Convergence. 44" x 30", Acrylic on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2006

Convergence. 44″ x 30″, Acrylic on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2006

So titled because of the one-point perspective illusion of the trees converging towards each other as they reach towards the sky.

I’ve always loved this effect when standing in a shady forest, of glowing yellow-green light peeking through the spaces between the trees, coming from a nearby sunny clearing. On the ground, in between the deep black shadows of the tree trunks are patches of warm light–the pink/orange browns of pine needles and rich wet earth.

I like that this painting is like a rainbow—red-orange at the bottom, yellow-green in the middle, and blue-violet at the top.

From the Forest Floor

September 25th, 2017

Here is the latest in my new series of realistic 4-foot square forest paintings. It is taking me approximately 4 weeks to complete each one.

“From the Forest Floor”

From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

One of my goals is to create an image detailed enough to achieve realism, but still loose and playful enough to convey artistic creativity within the medium. I want to create not just a beautiful image of the forest, but also an image full of interesting colors, a variety of rough and smooth textures, both vague and sharp distinctions between forms.

This painting shows the experience of craning your neck to look straight up above your head.

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The canopy of leaves directly overhead shelters us. These leaves closest to the ground can be seen in detail, their edges outlined in yellow sunshine.

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Beyond them the foliage higher up in the sky is merely hinted at, fuzzy, out of focus, tree shapes of yellow and turquoise, partially washed out by the brightness of the sun.

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The negative spaces where the light shines through look like countless little glinting jewels.

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

In the foreground, the texture of the redwood bark is shown in sharp light and shadow. The highlights are warm pink and the shadows in the crevices are deep magenta and purple.

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

At the crown of the giant sequoia tree, the branches are splayed out–close up, this makes a beautiful abstract pattern of shapes and colors. When you back up and look at the entire image, it says, “tree.”

From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The painting continues around the deep edges of the heavy wooden panel. In person, the quality of the materials and the texture of the painting add to its beauty. I’ve loved getting back into more large-scale pieces this year! The time put into it becomes worth it when I see the completed painting.

Artist Cedar Lee with painting: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee with painting: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Giant redwood trees in particular work well on a large scale. Viewers are pulled into the scene like they are really there!

Example of possible living room with painting: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Example of possible living room with painting: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

A painting of this scale can fill a large wall, totally transforming a living space.

Example of possible living room with painting: From the Forest Floor. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Example of possible living room with painting: From the Forest Floor. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I hope to complete two more of this size before the end of the year, while fitting in work on some smaller pieces as well.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Stark Clarity

September 4th, 2017

Here is my painting “Stark Clarity” from 2006.

I created this work to be displayed in an exhibit at a local arts center, one of the solo shows I did during my first year out of art school.

It was the first time I had intentionally decided to work in a series, to test my long-term discipline as an artist. This is one of my very earliest “Looking Up” paintings.

Over the years that followed between then and now, I would paint this theme relentlessly–trees in summer, spring, winter and fall. In more recent years, redwood forests. My style would continue to develop and shift over these years, but this perspective of looking up into the treetops would become one of the most consistently repeated themes in my work. Today, I am still just as inspired by and enamored with painting this perspective.

Stark Clarity. 42" x 28", Acrylic on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2013

Stark Clarity. 42″ x 28″, Acrylic on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2013

It is a winter scene, with a cold blue sky, a solitary bird soaring above the bare branches of the trees. It gives me the feeling of a lung-ful of freezing clean air, my blood flowing on a brisk walk through the woods, with the crunch of leaves and ice underfoot. This feeling goes along with mental clarity, as naturally, you are taking this walk to clear the cobwebs out of your mind–to get a fresh perspective. Hence the title, “Stark Clarity.”

(In private jokes, I also call this painting “The Dead Hiker.”)

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Spring Thunder

August 28th, 2017

Here is “Spring Thunder,” painted in 2006. It’s a lush, happy, rainbow-infused painting.

In painting this landscape, I was intently focused on the theme of light-versus-dark in the sky, but unlike some of my stormy skies from the previous year, this sky, while full of action, also has a calm and gentle mood.

A warm, healing rain washes over the trees in the middle distance on the right, while the tree on the left is still standing in full sun.

Spring Thunder. 26" x 48", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

Spring Thunder. 26″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

 

The sunshine lights up the fields of wildflowers with saturated color. All the trees are in full bloom–everything alive and growing.

You can’t tell from this picture, but this painting has a dramatic scale, at 48″ wide.

Sun & Shadows

August 25th, 2017

I’ve finished another 48″ x 48″!

Here is “Sun & Shadows.”

Cedar Lee, artist in the studio with oil painting Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Cedar Lee, artist in the studio with oil painting Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

It’s a sunny summer day in the redwood forest. There is a sharp contrast between light and dark throughout the image.

Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Brilliant white sunlight floods the whole sky, completely washing out the highest parts of the large sequoia tree in the center.

Artwork in painting studio: Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Artwork in painting studio: Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The sunlight illuminates some of the distant tree tops in yellow.

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

In the foreground, but still high above our heads, as we are craning our necks to look straight up into the sky, floats a cluster of rich green leaves.

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Some of the leaves are in shadow, a green so dark it’s almost black, while others are brighter, lighter shades of green, catching sunlight from above.

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The giant tree trunk is blue and purple in shadow, back-lit by the sun. In front of it, leaves sit in a bright patch of sun, shining white and yellow.

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The far-away tree tops high in the sky are represented by thousands of tiny shapes, dots of light and color strewn together. It gives a sense of movement, and the twinkling of light as it filters through the many tiny shapes.

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The forest on this day is dazzling! There is a sense of cool shade from this vantage point.

Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The heat of the sun is all outside, above the forest, being captured up there in the sky by the living green network of ancient trees.

Sun & Shadows. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Sun & Shadows. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Here is a quick glimpse of the painting progress, taken in the studio earlier this month:

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Hotel Torre Sant’Angelo, Second Honeymoon

August 21st, 2017

These two paintings are among the rare ones I’ve kept in my personal collection. Both were done from photos taken on a trip to Italy in 2005 with my husband. Both include a self-portrait.

Here is me hanging out with the old, tired, resident dog (who must by this time be long gone…I wonder if a new dog lives there now?) at the Hotel Sant’Angelo on the beautiful island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples:

Hotel Torre Sant'Angelo. 16" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Hotel Torre Sant’Angelo. 16″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

We spent a lot of time walking the steep hills of that little island, all the way down to this little inlet with natural boiling hot springs, and all the way back up along narrow winding roads with impenetrable walls of foliage and tall fences that come right up against the road. It’s a very vertical place, full of salty breeze.

And here is me with my husband outside the train station, having just arrived in Venice, looking out at the Grand Canal, sun gleaming everywhere.

Second Honeymoon. 16" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Second Honeymoon. 16″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Four New Resin-Coated Lotus Paintings

August 17th, 2017

I’ve been working on these four paintings for the past month! Here I was, back in July, working on the backgrounds.

In my new Lotus paintings, I create the backgrounds by dripping layers of thinned oil colors over other colors.

Artist Cedar Lee working in the studio, July 2017

Artist Cedar Lee working in the studio, July 2017

While I let this stage of the paintings become completely dry, I went on a road trip with my family to see the Grand Canyon and other wonders of the West. When I arrived back to the studio, I spent the first week of August painting lotus flowers into the foregrounds.

After waiting for them to completely dry again, my final step was to coat them in resin. Here, you can see a quick video of that process. The result is the paintings have rich, hyper-saturated color, and their surfaces are smooth, glassy, and reflective.

This one is called “Acceptance.” I placed the flower with its open petals towards the bottom of the canvas, positioned to soak up all the golden light flowing down from the top.

Acceptance. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Acceptance. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

It is a positive, almost basking sort of acceptance: accepting the bountiful gifts that life brings, which we sometimes can’t see unless our minds are open to accept them. However, it could also mean acceptance of whatever comes–the peace that comes with detachment from desire. The flower is saying, “Yes. Bring it on.”

Acceptance. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Acceptance. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The edges of these paintings are 2.5″ deep, with the paint continuing around the edges. They stand out from the wall in a dramatic way.

Reflections on resin-coated painting: Acceptance. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Reflections on resin-coated painting: Acceptance. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Up close, the quarter inch of clear resin gives the paintings a lot of depth. It’s fun to watch the reflections shift as you move past them.

Acceptance. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Acceptance. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This one is called “Dignity.”

Dignity. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Dignity. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This lotus flower is standing up so straight and looks so cool and composed.

Dignity. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Dignity. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The deep, dark purple in the bottom half of this painting is especially reflective in the right lighting.

Reflections on resin-coated painting: Dignity. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Reflections on resin-coated painting: Dignity. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Dignity. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Dignity. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Here is “Family.”

Family. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Family. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The trio of elegant blooms are in it together, growing upwards alongside each other. They are a team. This painting is a symbol of love.

Family. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee (Right: Fearless. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee)

Family. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee (Right: Fearless. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee)

And this one, “Fearless,” also shows one flower in full bloom, flanked by two smaller buds.

Fearless. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Fearless. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The feeling in this painting, glowing brightly in yellow-orange, is whimsical and celebratory. There is no fear hampering the growth of the lotuses–they explode into fullness of being without a care.

Fearless. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Fearless. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

You can see how mirror-like the surface can be in certain lighting–here, the painting is on the wall of my studio, and it’s picking up a clear reflection of a bottle of oil medium sitting in a patch of sunlight near the window.

Reflections on resin-coated painting: Fearless. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Reflections on resin-coated painting: Fearless. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Fearless. 16" x 16", Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Fearless. 16″ x 16″, Oil & Resin on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The paintings can be displayed individually, but I love them as a set as well. I chose to show them to you all at once in one blog post, because I created them all alongside each other. Four separate individual paintings, but also one cohesive art endeavor.

They could be displayed all in a row, or in a grid of four, like this:

Lotus paintings by Cedar Lee

Lotus paintings by Cedar Lee

Lotus paintings by Cedar Lee

Lotus paintings by Cedar Lee

These paintings will be on display along with my other most recent Lotus paintings at the Portland, OR art gallery Eco PDX, in September.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Glorious Sunset

August 14th, 2017

“Glorious Sunset” from 2005.

This sky is a war of raucous forms butting up against each other.  There is some kind of wild movement going on, a movement of clouds and a movement of light as the sun bursts from behind those sharp magenta/violet shapes.

Glorious Sunset . 40" x 46", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Glorious Sunset . 40″ x 46″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

I was painting that year with a lot of quinacridone pigments to get these intensely saturated, almost neon colors. Again I’m back to the theme of light, bright, (neon!) up against the deepest, moodiest darks.

Compared to the intensity in the sky, the deep shadowed hills of the land, with their hints of swaying grasses and green trees, is serene, sleeping. The big silhouetted tree on the right looks a lot like some of the trees in my, at this time, yet-to-be-imagined Tree of Life series. I love to see how certain stylistic choices I made so long ago have come back into my work again and again since, while others were temporary, serving their purpose to help me express what I needed to at that time.

I did this painting on a poorly stretched canvas, and ended up removing the canvas from the stretchers with the intent on re-stretching it later. That never happened, so I gifted the painting, un-stretched, to a friend during the purge of a move. She hung it like a wall tapestry. Maybe it got a new home at some point.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Alice & Pat On Their Wedding Day

August 7th, 2017

This 2005 painting, done as a commission from a photo, was a fun and challenging portrait for me to do.

Alice & Pat on Their Wedding Day. 20" x 25", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Alice & Pat on Their Wedding Day. 20″ x 25″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

The styles are so very 70’s! I love their smiles and the looks on both their faces. I can see why the client wanted this image captured forever as a painting.

Although I’m not a regular portrait painter anymore, having since been compelled more strongly in other artistic directions, I’m thankful for all the past experiences I’ve had painting people.

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