Shown here are paintings by Cedar Lee created since mid-2005.
Almost all of these works have been sold. See originals currently available for purchase.
The “Plant Mama” series was born in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic. While sheltering in place, I turned inward in search of a creative escape from the misery of the world. I found a new subject matter for my art in the plants in my garden and the potted house plants throughout my home, realizing they have been an obvious source of joy and endless fascination for me throughout my entire adult life. I began exploring my own relationship to my plants, and all the emotions they inspire in me, by incorporating the plant life around me into self portraits.
Loving plants, enjoying their beauty, their structure and patterns, marveling at the automatic way they create themselves, is as old as humans.
Flora and fauna go together. What’s one of the secrets to happiness as a human animal? Plants. The secret is in germination and cultivation, the feeling of progress that comes with watching seeds sprout and new leaves unfurl. It’s in noticing how a plant responds to sunlight and water. Sometimes it’s the feeling of an easy win, because when it comes down to it, a gardener cannot take credit for anything a plant does. The plant grows automatically. All we have to do is provide it with the conditions it needs then step back.
I have always loved the concept of the divine feminine as a creative force that exists in us all regardless of gender: it’s a balance between actively nurturing and simply providing a space for the growth of new life. Regardless of what you want to call it, this is the wisdom behind the green thumb. And when the growth happens, you get to celebrate!
Williams Plaza Project: Summer of 2020
I was commissioned by a local architecture firm and Home Forward, Portland, Oregon’s housing authority, to create paintings on 14 live edge slabs to hang on all nine floors of the Williams Plaza building, a low-income housing project for senior citizens.
The slabs were cut from two large trees on the property that had to be cut down. The sustainable solution of turning the trees into art for the building lessened this loss. They will go on to fill the building with beautiful, peaceful nature images that will be enjoyed every day by the residents.
The themes of the different paintings in this body of work range from forest landscapes to various flowers and open skies. All of the imagery was inspired by past artwork that I’ve done.
Watch time lapse videos of the creation of this body of work!
Enjoy the “Looking Up” series below, inspired by the giant sequoia forests and other forest hikes.
Walking in the woods beneath green summer trees or evergreens gives me a feeling of joy and peacefulness, of being a small part of something tremendously beautiful, and all being right in the world. The light of the forest floats down through the trees. The fresh smells of plants and earth fill the clean air. I can hear birdsong, my own feet snapping twigs, and small animals rustling leaves on the ground. I’m fascinated by the dramatic angles of tall trees zooming up into the sky.
This series is born of my lifelong love of trees, and my aim is to transport the viewer into the peaceful and magical realm of the forest.
My Lotus series explores the bold simplicity and deep symbolism of lotus flowers. Lotus flowers symbolize many things, including divine beauty, purity, love (romantic & non), faithfulness, and expansion of the soul. Buddhist and Hindu art often features them.
The lotus is a metaphor for the light of the human soul transcending the darkness that surrounds it. It grows out of a mucky, scummy, vile swamp but is pure, clean and vibrant, perfectly symmetrical, delicate and fragrant.
My inclusion of various pond creatures—frogs, fish, and dragonflies, as well as occasional whimsical floating bubbles, are my way of showing that spiritual themes need not be serious, but can be contemplated from a joyous, child’s perspective.
The Lotus series is striking and elegant, painted in opulent tones of ruby, ivory, sage green and gold. Red is a common thread throughout the whole series. This gives the paintings a feeling of boldness and lively energy.
The Sunflower series began the summer I started growing sunflowers in my garden. Through seed catalogs, I soon discovered many varieties of gorgeous sunflowers with fascinating names. These paintings have a bold, modern look and are painted in vibrant oil colors with thick texture.
The Sunflower Heart series is abstract and not botanically accurate. They’re based on real flowers, but are not so much about realism as they are about getting lost in the exquisite patterns in the hearts of my own personal fantasy sunflowers. The vibrant colors command your attention immediately, while the intricate details ask to be examined more closely.
Solar eclipses are rare, and have always been mysterious, exciting, special events for humanity. I’ve found the singular lucky moment of alignment during a solar eclipse is a visually striking illustration.
I show a real astronomical event–total solar eclipse–with colors and compositions from a world of pure fantasy. Visually, these paintings are an exploration of light against darkness. The blinding, gleaming glow of the sun’s corona breaking out around the edges of the moon, that piercingly sharp contrast, is an indescribably satisfying phenomenon to look at.
Depending on how I choose to present the image of an eclipse, it’s interesting to me how the moon can be depicted as a flat black disk in total silhouette, or it can be shown in the dull red glow from the sun’s reflected light. As a painter, I enjoy the challenge of painting a subject that is, in real life, mostly in darkness–literally an event that blocks out the sun–while finding creative ways to use as much light and color as possible to create a visually engaging, emotionally stirring image.
The Cosmic Dance series embodies the concept of balance in the universe–yin and yang. The vastness and completeness of a perfectly balanced universe cannot be captured in a painting, but I attempt to evoke the wonder we feel as we experience glimpses of it.
The sun is frequently juxtaposed with the moon, light with darkness, sky with earth. Cosmic themes in my work evoke thoughts of epic myths and creation stories, intergalactic travel and the unknown mysteries of far-flung corners of our universe.
The solitary, majestic Tree of Life symbolically encompasses all living things and the cyclical nature of the universe. The Tree of Life is perfectly balanced, the roots residing under the earth while the branches reach into the heavens. Many of my Tree of Life images have a stellar backdrop, and many include the moon. The roundness of the full moon is meant to symbolize the fullness of humanity’s range of experience as we trek through life on Earth.
Peaceful and inspiring imaginative landscapes from 2005 and on.
Portraits of people, in which I lovingly captured that spark of personality.
Cats and Dogs: Our beautiful animal companions.