Paintings of the Caribbean Sea

January 22nd, 2018

In 2003, I visited St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and took a lot of pictures of the island and the sun reflecting off the water at sunset. In 2007, I created this small series of seascapes inspired by those photos. This goes to show how traveling to new places can be of immense value to an artist’s work, even years later.

If it is cold where you are right now, I hope these paintings momentarily transport you into a moment of paradise: A gentle, warm breeze, salt in the air, the sound of water lapping against the hull of a boat, and sunshine on your face.

departing saint thomas

Departing Saint Thomas. Acrylic on Canvas, 24″ x 36″, © 2007 Cedar Lee

glowing water

Glowing Water. Acrylic on Canvas, 24″ x 36″, © 2007 Cedar Lee

sailboats at sunset

Sailboats at Sunset. Acrylic on Canvas, 18″ x 36″, © 2007 Cedar Lee

sundown on the shore of saint thomas

Sundown on the Shore of Saint Thomas. Acrylic on Canvas, 24″ x 36″, © 2007 Cedar Lee

Being near the ocean makes me feel more alive! I try to get a dose of warm ocean every year, or at least as often as I can.

July’s Abundance

January 8th, 2018

Sunflowers have held a special place in my heart my whole life. Growing up, my mom always grew them in her garden. As an adult, every year that I have had a garden of my own, I’ve made a point to do the same.

In the past, I’ve created whole series of paintings with a sunflower theme. My “Sunflower” series came about when I discovered how many varieties of sunflowers there are, and how unique some of them look. My “Sunflower Heart” series was based on my fascination with the hypnotic pattern of the seeds in the center of a sunflower.  You can see them all on this page. (Scroll down past the lotuses.)

July’s Abundance. Acrylic on Canvas, 30″ x 20″, © 2007 Cedar Lee

I painted this photo-realistic image from a snapshot of sunflowers in the front garden of the little house I lived in for 10 years in Baltimore, MD. The little bit of the house that’s visible in the background here fills me with nostalgia. Notice the two bees on the flower!

To me, sunflowers symbolize abundance–good times, beautiful harvests, long days of sunshine, the active lifestyle of summertime. Last year, I got my first ever tattoo, of a sunflower and a bee on my shoulder.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Delicious Warmth

December 18th, 2017

Here’s a perfect painting from my past to share with you as we near the Winter Solstice! It captures the feeling of warming your hands on a hot cup of tea on a chilly day.

Delicious Warmth . 20" x 16", Acrylic on Canvas , © 2006Cedar Lee

Delicious Warmth . 20″ x 16″, Acrylic on Canvas , © 2006 Cedar Lee

Wishing peace and coziness for all this winter.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Into the Winter Sun

December 4th, 2017

I used to take walks in these woods bordering a little park near my home in Baltimore, rain or shine. This painting was inspired by one of those walks.

Into the Winter Sun. 45" x 30", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

Into the Winter Sun. 45″ x 30″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

I love how the whole painting is in warm tones, but it still gives a feeling of cold. It’s the bare branches of the trees, and that faint little sun, so low in the sky even though it’s probably 4pm. The brilliant sunset hues are mixed with frosty white in the atmosphere.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Radiant Sky

November 20th, 2017

I love the sky in this painting: pure, clear light shining down from above, a hint of crepuscular rays coming down from behind the bright clouds.

Radiant Sky. 42" x 36", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

Radiant Sky. 42″ x 36″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

While the original is long-sold, you can get a print of this painting from my selection on Fine Art America!

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Fall Jubilation

November 6th, 2017

This painting from 2006, inspired by a huge tree I used to walk by every day, outside the arts building on the campus of Goucher College, is called “Fall Jubilation.”

Fall Jubilation. 49" x 34", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

Fall Jubilation. 49″ x 34″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2006 Cedar Lee

I added the little robin sitting on the branch on a whim. He’s looking out at the viewer quizzically, sharing a gorgeous moment with us all.

Here’s a video of me being interviewed that year, (hello, younger me!) where I talk about how I started with my photo of a green summer tree, and used Photoshop to turn the colors autumnal.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Upward Momentum

October 30th, 2017

This painting was an exercise in one-point perspective, a theme that so thoroughly captured my interest when I began to paint forest canopies. With very tall trees, the effect is so dramatic, your eyes zooming straight up the lines of the tree trunks into the sky.

Upward Momentum. 40" x 30", Acrylic on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2013

Upward Momentum. 40″ x 30″, Acrylic on Canvas, © Cedar Lee 2013

The painting was originally simpler and flatter, with the tree trunks more of a solid color. The couple that purchased it requested that I add more detail, and that’s when I created the texture of the bark you see in the foreground, the shapes shown in brilliant light and shadow. This was an early example of my continued interest in using paint in creative ways to construct light, shadow, and color into the thick bark of a tree trunk.

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. 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 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.”)

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