Each of these paintings represents one of twelve character archetypes, shown through the symbolism of flora and fauna. I chose to paint animals and plants that humans have associated with various character traits. Some of these symbols are shared across different world cultures, others less-so.
With this intention applied to the details of each design, the resulting images are powerful. Even if the viewer does not understand the intended symbolism behind each of these art pieces, the images are appealing and thought-provoking.
Viewers aware of the symbolism behind each piece will find joy and inspiration in dwelling upon these paintings. Perhaps looking at each image will help awaken that part of your character a little bit, reminding you of a well within yourself that you can tap into when needed. Perhaps you’ll recognize these archetypes in your social relationships—how you relate to others as well as how they see you—and appreciate the richness and complexity of the human family.
Plant Mama Collection
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!
Artist with Art: Onward. 36″ x 36″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2020 Cedar Lee
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.