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.”)

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.

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

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!

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