Wednesday, December 06, 2006

National Finals Rodeo

I'm not a cowboy by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to watch rodeo -- especially the PRCA National Finals. We travelled to Las Vegas Nevada to see a couple of nights of the ten-night NFR Rodeo with two of my cowboy mentors, Lyman and Kelton Hafen. It's been a tradition for us since the rodeo moved from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas in 1985. Lyman and his dad got me started riding horses in the 80's. I got my first quarter horse, Ben, from them and I was fortunate to help with the spring and fall cattle drives on their Nevada Ranch at Clover Valley. That's where I first met a young kid named Cody Wright, who has competed in the finals the past four years and won first place in saddlebronc last night. Here's a picture of the four of us at the NFR.

Photo of Roland Lee with cowboy Cody Wright, Lyman Hafen, and kelton Hafen at the National Finals Rodeo in 2006

Left to right: Kelton Hafen, Cody Wright, Roland Lee, Lyman Hafen

I also enjoy spending some time at "Cowboy Christmas" a huge trade show at the LV convention center. It's a great place to see lots of wonderful western art and sculpture.

Best of Show Cash Award

Painting of fisherman fly fishing
Nellie and I travelled to Mesquite Nevada for an awards reception for the "Lucky 13" International Small Works Competition. I was notified that I had received "Best of Show" with a cash award, which is always nice. It is a very unique art show in that all paintings must be smaller than 13 inches in any one direction including the frame. My painting, "Fisherman" is a tiny 5 in. by 5 in. transparent watercolor of a fly fisherman. It is not only one of the smallest paintings I've ever done, but certainly the smallest I've ever had accepted into a juried competition.
Roland Lee with Best of Show painting of fisherman at Virgin Valley Artists Lucky 13 International Small Works Competition

Roland Lee receives Best of Show award at Lucky 13 International Small Works Competition

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Finished Mural for the Children's Library

Reading - A Window to the Past and a Doorway to the Future

“Reading – A Window to the Past, and a Doorway to the Future”
Oil Painting by By Roland Lee

Southern Utah is a unique and wonderful place. The power of nature has sculpted the land into a complex labyrinth of towers and canyons, where prehistoric creatures and ancient peoples have carved their own marks as they struggled to survive in a harsh, but beautiful environment.
1. The towering walls and deep canyons of Zion National Park are evidence of the geologic upheavals that shaped our land. Today millions of people from all over the world travel to Utah to see Zion’s wonders.
2. Even before man stepped foot on this land, prehistoric creatures left their large footprints. The Allosaurus, a fierce carnivore, was so prevalent in Utah that it is now the official fossil of the State of Utah. Hundreds of tracks of other dinosaurs have been discovered and preserved near St. George.
3. Although other white explorers had visited southern Utah, the Mormon pioneers were the first to colonize the area. Travelling by covered wagon, they brought little with them as they struggled to farm the desert and tame the Rio Virgin.
4. Ancient peoples inhabited this land long before the white man came. The Anasazi left symbols of their life on rock walls, pottery shards, and dwellings. But the southern Paiutes, who came in 1200 AD and live here still, provide our strongest cultural link to human history in this land.
5. As a child I was fascinated by space flight and watched in awe when man stepped on the moon’s surface in 1969. Today, people of many nations work together in space stations and travel freely back and forth into space on vehicles such as the Discovery Space Shuttle. Who knows what changes technology will bring to the lives of tomorrow’s children?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mural for the Children's Library

This past week I've been working on the second large painting for the new Washington County Library. this one will go in the Children's Library area. I wanted to depict the history of the area, showing a couple of young people opening a book to learn about the past as they look to the future.

In the first sketch I planned for an 8 foot painting and included a dinosaur, the Native Peoples, the Pioneers, and Space Shuttle.

2 Library mural painting by Roland Lee - Learning from the past and preparing for the Future

When I visited the spot in the library where the painting is going to be placed I decided to reduce the width of the painting to 6 feet. I zeroed in on a few specifics and added red cliffs in the background to show the unique geology of the area. Now I've got the design worked out and feel pretty comfortable with it.

3 Library mural painting by Roland Lee - Learning from the past and preparing for the Future

I started by mounting Claessons Belgian Linen to hardboard then sketched up the drawing using a prismacolor pencil. With my drawing and reference photos taped to the canvas, I started working on the children's faces before moving on to some of the other elements.

4 Library mural painting by Roland Lee - Learning from the past and preparing for the Future

The history of southern Utah is filled with fantastic subjects. On the left are two southern Paiutes, representing the indigenous peoples who lived here first. Behind them is a covered wagon used by early Mormon Pioneer settlers. The red sandstone cliffs of Zion Canyon rise up in the background to show the incredible and unique geology found here. The Allosaurus was one of the fiercest meat-eating dinosaurs who once tromped through Utah, and is now the State Fossil of Utah. Finally a space shuttle launch brings us into the present and future through space exploration.

5 Library mural painting by Roland Lee - Learning from the past and preparing for the Future

Zion Canyon Fall Colors

Photo of Zion National Park in Autumn

We usually spend a few weeks in Vermont during Autumn, painting the fall colors. But this year we stayed in Utah where the Autumn leaves are pretty spectacular too. Here's a few photos I took over the last couple of weeks in Zion National Park, as I begin working toward my March one man show "Roland Lee's Canyon Country" at the St. George Art Museum.

Photo of Zion National Park Fall colors

Photo of Fall Cottonwoods in Zion National Park

Photo of Autumn leaaves in Zion National Park

Photo of Zion National Park Fall colors

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Roland Lee November Watercolor Workshop

Roland Lee Watercolor Painting Workshop November 2006

I enjoyed a couple of days with some terrific artists in November as I conducted a special two-day watercolor Workshop at A Passion for Painting in St. George, Utah. I was impressed with the skill level of these artists as I coached them in "Learning to See the Landscape." A key element in learning to paint the landscape is being able to discern how light affects what we see. Through demos and Powerpoint examples I was able to show them how it works. We are planning another workshop some time in January.

The Library Mural Painting is Finished

Roland Lee Library Mural Painting of Story time at the library 1864 to 2006

The finished Library Mural for the Washington County Library

At last I finished the library mural painting. Upon completion I got the approval of Douglas Alder from the library committee, then we brought in construction manager, Bob Coulter to discuss placement and framing of the painting. We decided that they would construct an architectural frame of the same walnut stained red oak that was being used on the woodwork in the library. I let the painting dry for a couple of weeks then applied a varnish coat for protection.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

the Mural Goes Outside

Roland Lee oil painting mural for the St. George Library

Today I lifted the big mural off the wall and carried it outside so I could take a better look at it. Still lots to do, but it holds together well. I am pleased.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

At Work on the Library Mural

Roland Lee at work on an oil painting

Here's a photo of yours truly at work on the library mural. As you can see it is getting close. I completed two of the buildings today. By the way, the brush I'm using is Gerald Olson's (see previous post.) I thought it would be fitting to use his brush as I worked on the historic buildings, since Jerry actually taught his first years in the old Academy building in the painting on the left.

I'll have to hang up the brushes for a couple of days to go pick up my wife Nellie in Highland. I will sure be glad to have my partner back again. This is the longest we have been apart in our life and I miss her.

Mural Progress Update

Roland Lee oil painting in progress

My wife Nellie has been gone for the past two weeks and I've missed her a lot. She went to stay at our other home in Highland Utah to tend our grandkids while Jim and Barb vacationed in Mexico. Tomorrow I will head up north to join her and her bring her home. While she's been gone I've been working long days on the mural painting. I thought I would finish it by today, but it still needs more work on the buildings and background. Here's an update photo.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Tribute to Gerald P. Olson, Teacher, Artist, Mentor, and Friend

A good friend and artist, Gerald Olson passed away this week after a short battle with cancer. He and his wife Sally recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Since his passing a couple of days ago I've spent some time reminiscing about our experiences together. This is the third artist friend that I've lost this year and it really started me thinking. Life is very short, and our associations are everything. I believe we not only live again after death, but that our associations continue in Heaven as well. So why not get started now? Lately I've become more involved in local art groups, and even signed up for workshops with other artists. I do not want to have to say when it's too late, "I wish we had spent more time together."

A tribute to Gerald P. OlsonPhoto at left: A wonderful display of some of Gerald Olson's artist materials(including his well-worn green artist's smock) that the Olson family lovingly set this up at the funeral to celebrate his life.

Jerry was the art department chairman when I began teaching at Dixie College in 1976, and became a mentor as he encouraged me along as a young teacher. As a former commercial artist I was confident in my own abilities, but he shook that confidence a lot when he assigned me to teach classes in photography, silk screen printing, and art for elementary teachers. I tried to stay one step ahead of the students and plowed through books night after night. But I enjoyed every minute of it and became grounded in art fundamentals that have affected my life in many ways since. Jerry never once criticized my teaching, but instead gave some helpful advice in gentle ways. After four years of teaching, I left Dixie College to begin a full-time painting career. Jerry continued teaching and retired in 1987. It's hard to say how many lives have been affected by him, but I know hundreds of young students who have him to thank for their start in art.

As I left the funeral home tonight I asked Sally for one of Jerry's oil painting brushes. I am going to save it, but before I put it away I'm going to honor his name by using it in my painting. I think he would like that.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

First Place Award at Dixie Arts Foundation Event

Watercolor Painting of Vermont, Little Mill House by Roland Lee

Friday was perfectly gorgeous with clear skies and warm sun for the Dixie Arts Foundation's annual Art in the Park Event. They had set up two large pavilion tents for the artists' booths with special lighting so the event could go on into the night. The whole park was festooned with colored ribbons and it was a very festive atmosphere. My painting "Little Mill House" (pictured above) received a First Place ribbon which was presented by Mayor Dan McArthur.

Roland Lee and Mayor Dan McArthur at Dixie ARts Foundation Art in the Park event

Saturday's weather was a totally different story. As the weatherman promised, a huge tropical storm blew in with fury just as we closed up Friday night and pummeled the festival tents all night. We awoke to more of the same this morning which worried us, but by noon blues skies began to dominate, and the day became very pleasant. People were anxious to get outside and by afternoon the park was alive again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mural progress step by step

I made a little more progress on the mural today. Here's a few update photos from previous posts including the painting as it stands today. The problem is not only getting it finished on time, but allowing it enough time to dry before hanging. I may be pushing this one. I have to set it aside again as I am participating in the Dixie Arts Foundation's Art in the Park exhibit Friday and Saturday.

Roland Lee oil painting for Washington County Library

Roland Lee painting library mural step by step

Roland Lee painting library mural step by step

Roland Lee painting

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Working on the Library Mural

After a great workshop at Lake Powell I'm back in the studio again working on the large oil painting for the Washington County Library. It seems to be taking me a long time to do this painting, partially because of the sheer size. But I also have to switch my thinking from my usual watercolor technique to the oil painting approach. The main difference with oils of course is that you establish the darks first and finish up with the lights. Whereas in watercolor because of its transparency you must preserve the whites by painting around them using what I call "backpainting." In either medium the important thing to remember is the importance of value contrast.

Since the figures are the real focal point, I will complete them first. I will then move on to the background buildings which depict all of the libraries in St. George since the 1800's. I will paint them in a lighter value or tone, and reduce the intenisty of color there to help push them into the background.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Painting with David Drummond at Lake Powell

Roland Lee watercolor painting of Lake Powell

Artist David Drummond demonstrating wet in wet technique to workshop at Lake Powell October 2006We wrapped up our watercolor paintings today by working on water reflections. This is an area that David Drummond excells at. His techniques are without equal. Having a Doctorate in Physics, and specializing in laser optics in his former life may explain why he understands the physics of light and reflection so well. I struggled a lot with this painting and feel it is a little muddy but here is my finished painting (above), along with the step by step images (below.)The inset picture shows David Drummond demonstrating during the workshop.

Roland Lee step by step watercolor painting of lake Powell

More sketchbook studies from Lake Powell

Roland Lee sketchbook study at Lake Powell
Today dawned bright and sunny so we took advantage of it by taking an early morning cruise on David Drummond's pontoon boat. I managed a few quick drawings in my sketchbook and shot a number of digital photos to use as reference later.

Roland lee sketchbook drawing of Castle Rock at Lake Powell

Sketchbook Drawing above of Castle Rock was done while waiting for the group to gather at the Wahweap Marina. The sketchbook drawing below of Lone Rock was done in the late afternoon before getting together on Drummond's houseboat for dinner.

Roland Lee sketchbook drawing of Lake Powell

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sketching and Painting Lake Powell

Sketchbook value study for the classroom painting of Lake Powell
It has rained like crazy for two days here in Page Arizona on the shore of Lake Powell. You'd think we were in Seattle instead of the desert. Some people here say they can't remember a pounding rain like this in 30 years. It was spectacular though with huge gushing waterfalls pouring out of the slot canyons into the lake. It broke up a little this evening so I went out to Antelope Point and did some sketching finally. Driving back to the hotel I caught a glimpse of a full moon peaking out from behing the clouds. What a sight!

painting of Lake Powell by Roland Lee during David Drummond workshop

David Drummond demonstrated a neat technique for rendering rocks. This is my classroom watercolor study utilizing the technique. The top drawing is my sketchbook value study for this painting. Tomorrow David will show us his technique for painting water, which is his specialty. The workshop is great!

Sketchbook drawing of Lake Powell Gunsight ButteLeft, my sketchbook study of Gunsight Butte from the road to Antelope Point.

Below, David Drummond demonstrates his wet in wet watercolor landscape techniques to an eager group of artists from all over the United States. The workshop was hosted by the Powell Museum in Page Arizona. Drummond is well-known for his paintings of Lake Powell featuring fantastic reflections in the water. His paintings have been selected for all 15 Arts for the Parks Top 100 exhibits.David Drummond demonstrates his wet in wet technique for watercolor landscapes

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sketching at Pipe Spring National Monument

Sketchbook drawing of Old homestead at Pipe Spring national MonumentOn the way over to Lake Powell, I took a little side trip to Pipe Spring National Monument and the paiute Museum on the Arizona Strip. It's a wonderful old historic site with people in period costume. It is the location of an early Mormon pioneer settlement called Winsor Castle. Actually it is a stone fort built over the natural spring to protect the settlers from Indian raids. Today the paiutes and the National Park Service work together to run the site.

Sketchbook drawing of Winsor Castle at Pipe Spring national Historic Site

I did several sketches in my travel sketchbook and shot some digital photos for reference. I was thinking about doing a painting here for the 2007 Arts for the Parks National Competition.

Watson-Guptill brand archival sketchbook used by Roland LeeI always use the Watson Guptill hardbound sketchbooks and a 6B or 8B pencil. I have run the sketchbooks through some rough trials carrying them with me in my travels all over the world. They hold together great and the drawings will not smudge because of the hard cover. I had my local art supply store, Passion for Painting Gallery, stock them for me and my students.

Putting an Underglaze on the Buildings

Mural painting step 6

I rubbed in a thin underglaze of burnt sienna on the buildings using thinner to establish an even value. Then I set everything aside and headed out to Page Arizona for a workshop with David Drummond at Lake Powell.I will get back to the mural on Monday when I return.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Getting Started on the Library Mural

Step 1 oil painting of mural for Washington County Library

Step 5 oil painting of mural for Washington County Library
I finally got started painting the 4' x 8' library mural this week. Actually it's not technically a mural, but a very large painting. It will be mounted on the wall permanently and surrounded by a frame, though, so either term probably works. I ordered Claessons Oil primed Belgian linen from Dick Blick and mounted it on a tempered masonite panel using Demco's archival adhesive. I then hung the panel on the wall of my frame shop (my studio is too small) so I can work vertically. It's worked pretty well so far. Here are a few of photos of the process after two days of painting.

Step 2 oil painting of mural for Washington County Library
From my 10" x 20" pencil layout, I transferred the design using grids in red pencil. I did some sketching directly on the linen using pencil, but used a red pencil for the main outlines, since it smears less when the first paint is applied.

Step 3 oil painting of mural for Washington County Library

I decided to work on the figures first and establish their main values, leaving the background buildings for later. Once the figures are almost complete I will work on the background and return for the final detail work on the figures last.

Step 4 oil painting of mural for Washington County Library

I'll be able to block in a little more tomorrow, and apply a red underglaze to the buildings. Then I'll set this painting aside for a few days, as I head off for Lake Powell to take a watercolor workshop with David Drummond.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fall Colors in Utah

While Vermont excells in grand displays of reds, Utah puts on a show of yellows and golds in Autumn. Over the weekend I took a little drive over the Alpine Loop up American Fork Canyon and even though it was overcast, the colors still made me marvel.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Mission Gallery opens in St. George, UT

Roland Lee with fellow artist Lynn Griffin at the opening of the Mission Gallery in ST. George, Utah

Roland Lee (right) with fellow artist Lynn Griffin at the opening artist's reception of the Mission Gallery in St. George, Utah

Although the Mission Gallery has been open for business for several months, they just completed the remodeling and signage and held an offical ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning which I attended. In addition a good number of art appreciators stopped by for the open house and artist reception tonight. I'm not crazy about receptions, but I do enjoy visiting with those who appreciate art. So I had a pleasant time chatting with the collectors and looking at the new paintings. A number of top regional painters are exhibiting at the Mission Gallery, and I will enjoy being among them. I currently have 9 paintings on display there. Thanks to Jane Juber for her foresight and vision in creating her second gallery in St. George. She also owns the Authentique Gallery.

The Mission Gallery in St. George Utah

The Mission Gallery is located in a wonderful old adobe pioneer home in Ancestor Square at 173 North Main Street, St. George, UT 84770. For information call Toll Free 866-999-1278

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Demonstration Painting Sage in the Sun

Roland Lee demonstrating the painting of Sage in the Sunlight at September 2006 watercolor workshop

Demonstration watercolor painting of Sage in the Sunlight

Demonstration watercolor painting of Sage in the Sunlight

The light in the desert is always a prevalent feature of the landscape. The shapes of mesas, and desert shrubs are well-delineated by the sunlight hitting the surfaces and bouncing around to create a wonderful pattern of warms and cools. Our eye is naturally drawn to light objects against darker backgrounds. The painting above was painted to demonstrate how powerful that effect can be in even something as simple as a sagebrush in the sand.