Sapphire Atmosphere

Here is “Sapphire Atmosphere!

Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

This acrylic painting is 6′ tall by 4′ wide! It will be perfect to hang on any huge empty wall. Imagine it in a home with high ceilings, or in a large lobby or conference room.

Artist with art: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

From design stages to documentation, this painting took about 6 weeks to complete. Shown here is a time lapse of the actual painting part of the process in the studio over the course of 25 days:

Cedar Lee creating “Sapphire Atmosphere” 6′ x 4′ painting

On my way to Breitenbush Hot Springs a few years ago, I pulled over on the side of the road to take the photo that ended up inspiring this painting. I just had to capture the beautiful moody sky framed by a row of tall trees!

Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

Seen from across the room, this gigantic painting reads as a dramatic landscape scene. When you examine the details up close, you can see the many layers of thickly textured paint built up on the canvas.

Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee
Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

I achieved this impasto texture by laying the ground for my painting with acrylic molding paste, and using palette knives in my painting process.

Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee
Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

One of my favorite signature techniques for painting trees is using a small brush to create the shapes of the tree branches by painting all the tiny negative shapes of the light shining through them from behind.

Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

It reminds me of the Michelangelo quote: “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”

Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

After I got the basic shapes of my composition onto the canvas, I did not look at any reference photos at all. Because of this, all of the small details are completely invented.

Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee
Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee
Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

I use a lot of abstract intuitive painting techniques, but I always incorporate this into a realistic image. Finding this balance between realism and abstraction is one of the exciting challenges of painting for me!

Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

The painting continues around the edges of the canvas.

Close-up detail: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

With the dark clouds moving across the sky and the sun shining through, the sky shifting dramatically by the second, this is an exciting image!

Standing in front of this painting is like looking out of a gigantic picture window.

Artist with art: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

The image of a beautiful open blue sky full of shifting clouds brings many associations: the warmth of sunshine and breeze on your face, a feeling of hope and optimism, the feeling of change blowing in on the wind, and the thrill of adventure.

Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

The calm color palette of grays and blues encourages peaceful contemplation.

Artist with art: Sapphire Atmosphere. 72″ x 48″, Acrylic on Canvas, © 2021 Cedar Lee

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