I’ve spent many hours exploring the woods, near my home as well as in my travels, photographing trees, being in their quiet presence, and simply looking at them. In 2014 I visited California’s giant sequoia forests for the first time. Every summer I go hiking in new forests. I always take note of the trees wherever I go and carry with me many memories and impressions in my mind, both visual and emotional.
My paintings include specific images I’ve photographed, but they are also about my memories and emotions, faint and ghostly images of childhood and world travels, a lifetime of meandering on so many forest trails. So, the paintings are imbued with the calm and peace of the forest, communicating my love and respect for the trees.
I often start by blocking in an under-painting of the basic forms very roughly, applying a thick mixture of cold wax medium and oil paint with a palette knife, like frosting on a cake. Then in the finishing layers, I incorporate thin oil glazes and add detail with small brushes. The image becomes progressively more refined as I work. Each painting has a unique combination of thick texture and fine brushwork.
My work celebrates the beauty of the old growth forests of the western U.S., inspires environmentalist values, and evokes the calm, grounded feeling that humans have when they connect deeply with nature.
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Recent forest paintings by Cedar Lee: The LOOKING UP Series