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

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Verbania Trail

June 26th, 2017

This sweet little painting, “Verbania Trail” is of the woods near my aunt and uncles’s home. They live in Verbania, Italy, a semi-rural town on Lago Maggiore, north of Milan and near the Switzerland border.

This trail goes up into the woods and hidden in those same words is a tiny chapel, a little secret surprise that you come across on this walk.

Verbania Trail. 30" x 20", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Verbania Trail. 30″ x 20″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Seeking to capture the interplay of sky and foliage, the negative space of light popping through bunches of leaves, is an endlessly interesting challenge for me as a painter. In my paintings of the forest that year, I approached this challenge by blurring many dabs of paint together, the effect like a looser, sloppier version of pointillism showing up in the treetops.

My trees then were a monochromatic green-on-green-on-green. These days, I put all kinds of wild colors into my forests.

From the Art By Cedar Archives: Reaching For the Sky

June 23rd, 2017

This painting would become, several months after its creation, the first I ever sold in a gallery show! “Reaching For the Sky.”

Reaching for the Sky. 24" x 16", Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

Reaching for the Sky. 24″ x 16″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2005 Cedar Lee

That year I spent a lot of time by myself in the woods on Goucher College’s campus, taking pictures and sketching images of the forest.

I was about to graduate with my art degree. I was starting to figure out how to stick with one subject for a while. The prospect of channeling my artistic focus into something bigger than just one art piece–the idea of creating, as they say, a cohesive body of work, was lighting a fire under me!

If you’re going to consciously dwell on a certain kind of imagery for many years, walking outside by yourself in the woods is not a bad place to start.

New Lotus Art: Passion Through Purpose

June 20th, 2017

Here is my newest Lotus painting, “Passion Through Purpose.”

Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Similar to my other recent paintings, “Rise Up,” (sold) “Imperfect Grace,” (sold) and “Courage Blooms,” this painting features three lotus flowers in a row, each in a different stage of blooming.

Cedar Lee Lotus art in office setting: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Cedar Lee Lotus art in office setting: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

This repeated image is a metaphor for personal growth. The lotus growing bravely upwards out of the dark pond water towards the sunlight above can represent the journey of any human aspiration, goal-setting and reaching, self-reflection, self-realization.

Gallery-wrapped painted edges: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Gallery-wrapped painted edges: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Like all of my paintings, the painting continues around the deep edges of the canvas. The artwork can be framed if desired, but it has a complete, modern aesthetic all on its own.

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The paint is thickly textured throughout. A fiery yellow-orange dominates the top of the canvas.

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

As the paint drips fluidly down the painting’s background, the orange turns to red and differentiates into many thin rivulets that contrast boldly against the inky darkness below.

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

The flower petals were initially painted thickly in white, with strokes of a palette knife. Thin glazes of colors were then brushed over this thick texture. The flowers stand out from the background, both in texture and in the many colors glowing within the white.

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Are the three blooms the same flower at different stages in its own blooming?

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Or are they three separate flowers, each doing their own thing alongside the others? This is left for the viewer to interpret.

The colors are vividly rich, liquid, sumptuous. They appear even more saturated when the painting is seen in full sunlight:

Detail under full sunlight: Passion Through Purpose. 30" x 20", Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

Detail under full sunlight: Passion Through Purpose. 30″ x 20″, Oil on Canvas, © 2017 Cedar Lee

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