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.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Fireflies

July 31st, 2017

“Fireflies” from 2005.

This is a painting of a soft purple night. A warm, insect-buzzing, summer night out in the country.

The original sold long ago, this poor-quality photograph is the only image I have of it. But still I can feel the mood.

Fireflies. 36" x 24" , Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Fireflies. 36″ x 24″ , Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

It’s a painting about a feeling more than about a specific location. The fireflies rise up out of the grassy field and twinkle in the trees, while the stars twinkle in the sky above.

At the time I painted it, I remember loving that light blue glow at the horizon, the very last hint of light from the already-set sun, and the negative spaces in the sweet little fence in the distance. I could feel the warmth rising quickly in waves off of the earth, cooling rapidly in the absence of the sun, with the little white moon rising up into the cold sky.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Mountain Storm

July 24th, 2017

Here is “Mountain Storm” from 2005. This may be one of the most intense paintings I’ve done.

Boom! Thunder crashes; a lightning flash fills the dark sky. The thick clouds are roiling violently.

Mountain Storm. 37" x 28", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Mountain Storm. 37″ x 28″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

The trees are black, bending, whipping around harshly in the night wind. I chose a vantage point from which hills rise dramatically into the sky right in front of us. In the lightning’s flash of light, the grass is eerily illuminated in fiery shades of gold and orange.

One of my painting professors that year told me my work was reminiscent of Charles Burchfield‘s work. I can definitely see that in this painting. It was later chosen to be on the cover of a literary journal.

Again with this moody painting, I was most fascinated with the battle between light and dark. As always, when I was painting, I was teaching myself new things about painting. By creating images of high contrast like this one, I would learn how to intentionally use contrast as a tool in my future work.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Dawn Unfolding

July 17th, 2017

Here is “Dawn Unfolding,” painted in 2005. This painting is one of the ones that sold from my very first gallery show in 2006.

While I was working on forest paintings that were to be the jumping-off point of my “Looking Up” series, you could say that this painting was a jumping-off point for what would become my “Cosmic Dance” series.

Dawn Unfolding. 40" x 42", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Dawn Unfolding. 40″ x 42″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

At this point in my exploration of these themes, I was focused mostly on light-vs.-darkness in my work. The light of the sun is reaching out like fingers, pushing the darkness back. The darkness is heavy, stubborn, pushing back, but eventually making its reluctant retreat.

The landscape is dotted with bits of glowing gold light. This glow faintly outlines the trees in the foreground, which are lined up like an audience witnessing the drama in the sky behind the smooth rolling mountains.

The colors are rich, unexpected–in the darkness you see purple and rust. In the light you see pastel pink, lemon yellow, and silver-blue.

As I was to paint this theme of the sun spreading its light out into a dark sky over the coming years, in later paintings I incorporated the moon too. After that, I went into outer space, creating many images of fantasy nebulae before moving on to the theme of the solar eclipse–a theme which I’ve painted again 13 times in the past year!

Artful Summer

July 14th, 2017

What my art inventory will look like later in this year is unpredictable!

I’m thrilled about the current direction of my Looking Up series, which is leading me into these glorious large-scale paintings which take me 3-4 weeks to complete each one–labors of love. They transport the viewer straight into the forest.

Artist Cedar Lee in the studio with painting: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee in the studio with painting: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Cedar Lee Art: Sun-Dappled Sequoias. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Cedar Lee Art: Sun-Dappled Sequoias. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

I’m equally involved in expanding my Lotus series, paintings with deep red-orange paint dripping unpredictably in rivulets down the canvas, and lotus petals constructed out of rough, thick strokes of the palette knife.

Cedar Lee Lotus paintings: "Stand Tall," "Free Spirit," "Easy Growth"

Cedar Lee Lotus paintings: “Stand Tall,” “Free Spirit,” “Easy Growth”

Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Rise Up. 30″ x 30″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Meanwhile, my Tree of Life series is dear to my heart but currently on pause in the studio. At this time, I only have a few lingering pieces left in this series.

Deep Roots and Milky Way. 16″ x 12″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

Deep Roots and Milky Way. 16″ x 12″, Oil on Canvas, © 2016 Cedar Lee

The entirety of the pieces I have left of my Eclipse series has shipped from my studio to Kentucky this week and will be for sale there starting August 1st. Whatever comes back to me after the total eclipse in August and my coinciding Eclipse show won’t be available again directly from my studio until October. Production of new pieces in this series is also, for now, on pause.

"Eclipse" series of original oil paintings by Cedar Lee, in the studio

“Eclipse” series of original oil paintings by Cedar Lee, in the studio

New artwork is promised to galleries, and I’ve begun leasing my high-end artwork out to local businesses. If I have another sale later this year, I will plan to again offer free shipping on artwork. Things are in flux, so I’m not yet making any promises!

I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my summer flinging paint, putting my muscles to work in the garden, and spending time with family. I love how life speeds up this time of year.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Towering Trunk

July 10th, 2017

This painting from 2005 is called “Towering Trunk.” It’s an exciting painting to me because it shows that at this point, I was fully into the genesis of my “Looking Up” series.

It was the first time I painted the thick bark of a tree in such sharp contrast.

Towering Trunk. 24" x 16", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

The treetops in the aqua blue sky appear blurred, as if everything is underwater. The yellow sun covers everything in warm, buttery light. There’s a slight fish eye lens perspective. There’s a bit of an otherworldly quality to the image.

I can see here how I was exploring not only the theme of the forest, but all the myriad ways to depict a forest while also playing with the paint, playing with the color and the contrast of an image.

Kaleidoscopic Forest

July 7th, 2017

I’ve finished another large-scale painting! Here is “Kaleidoscopic Forest.”

Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This painting is like looking into a kaleidoscope: the vibrant rainbow of colors, the many small dynamic shapes and the dizzying perspective that gives a feeling of turning movement.

Artist Cedar Lee in the studio with painting: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Artist Cedar Lee in the studio with painting: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The large scale pulls the viewer right into the depth of the redwood forest canopy.

Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The giant trees zoom high into the sky. The sunlight above the treetops is a brilliant white.

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Up close, the painting becomes more abstract.

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

In the yellow sunlight glowing through the overhead foliage, some of the patterns look like plant cells or stained glass, amorphous shapes outlined. Parts of the image have a fluid quality reminiscent of a reflection in water.

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

From the texture of the tree bark in the foreground to the tiny branches high in the sky and lit up by the sun like a flame, all the colors are vivid. Every color of the rainbow is present.

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The playfulness of the painting process is evident in unexpected circles and curlicues in the tree branches.

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The leaves (needles?) on the most distant branches show up as tiny patterns of dots and lines. The bright sun washes out parts of the tree canopy.

All these details come together as one realistic image, giving the feeling of being present in a real forest of majestic ancient redwoods.

Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48" x 48", Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Kaleidoscopic Forest. 48″ x 48″, Oil on Wood, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This painting is currently on loan to the newly opened Ever Green Salon in SW Portland, OR, where it can be seen in person starting tomorrow, if you are local!

Appalachian Eclipse

June 30th, 2017

Here is “Appalachian Eclipse.”

Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This striking panorama format painting is a feast for the eyes. The colors in the mountains change incrementally from the background to the foreground.

Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

We are above the misty clouds, which settle in gossamer wisps through the valleys.

Hanging in the sky over this spectacular mountain landscape is the solar eclipse in the moment of totality, the sun appearing as a thin white ring behind the edges of the obscuring moon.

Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The painting continues around the edges, making the painting a three-dimensional image. It stands out dramatically from the wall without need for a frame.

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

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

The rough contours of the mountains were built up in layers of color using oils thickened with cold wax medium, applied with a palette knife.

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

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

The color palette is warm and earthy. From a rose-gold sky, the mountains gradually shift into amber-orange, magenta-red, and in the foreground, violet-black.

Painting on easel in art studio of Cedar Lee. Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Painting on easel in art studio of Cedar Lee. Appalachian Eclipse. 12″ x 36″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

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