Friday, November 30, 2007

A visit from Artist Dan Cross and a mini Watercolor Painting Lesson

watercolor painting of the West Temple in Zion National Park
Dan Cross and I have communicated via email a few times this past year. He is an architect from Des Moines Iowa, who has begun working in watercolor recently. While in Las Vegas for a business conference he decided to take the two-hour drive to St. George and say "hello." In actuality he didn't really drive up just to see me -- he Architect and artist Dan Cross holding Roland Lee's Mukuntuweap bookstopped by my studio on his way to Zion National Park. I happened to be in the middle of a painting of the West Temple in Zion when he arrived. It gave me a chance to give him a mini art lesson on watercolor painting technique.

Above: The finished painting of Zion National Park, "West Temple Autumn."
Left: Artist/architect Dan Cross from Des Moines Iowa visits my studio.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lake Powell Morning Painting

Roland Lee Watercolor Painting of Lake Powell
This is a painting I have been working on all week. I did a little study for it last year, but on this larger painting I incorporated the flat still water reflections of early morning. The location is somewhere on the upper lake near Moki Canyon. Each morning when we are on the houseboat we start the day with a refreshing morning swim. This is the view you get when your head is bobbing just above the surface on one of those peaceful mornings.

Click to see a step by step painting demonstration of this painting

Click for more information on this painting of Lake Powell Morning

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

We're expecting our kids and grandkids to arrive this afternoon to spend a few days, eating turkey, visiting, and hopefully spending time up in Snow Canyon. The weather is so gorgeous I can't wait to get outdoors. But this morning I am in my studio finishing up a couple of paintings I started earlier in a watercolor painting workshop.

Even before picking up the brushes, though, I have to stop and reflect. As I gaze out my studio window at the incredible view of red rocks and blue sky I know I am blessed beyond measure. Our family has a lot to be thankful for. Everyone's health is good, the kids all have nice homes, and we have two new grandbabies on the way to join the 15 happy grandchildren we already enjoy. Each morning I kneel and thank God for what we have and the life we live here on this part of the earth. It doesn't take much travelling to realize the blessings we enjoy. So many people struggle each day just for enough to eat while we have more than we need. Thanksgiving time helps strengthen my resolve to follow more fully the teachings of Jesus Christ to "Do unto others..." (Luke 6:31) We have lots of opportunities daily to give freely of our time, talents, and substance and I hope I can do a better job of giving without so much judging.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Zion Angel's Landing Sketchbook Drawing

Sketchbook drawing by Roland Lee of Angel's Landing in Zion National Park
I had a chance to scan one of my sketchbook drawings from yesterday's hike in Zion Canyon. I spent most of my time along the Grotto Trail. This view is looking north from the Virgin River with the morning light hitting the top of the cliff face. The sketches are for a big new painting I am planning of Angel's Landing. I will hopefully start it in the next two weeks.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hiking in Zion National park

Photo of Zion National park in the Fall by Roland LeeThe weather is so beautiful that I had to slip away this morning and go to my favorite spot -- Zion National Park. Because of the lower elevation the Cottonwoods are still rich with golden yellow leaves down in Zion Canyon. So I spent most of my tiime hiking along the North fork of the Virgin River sketching in my sketchbook and shooting a few photos. the weather was crisp early this morning but really warmed up once the sun rose over the canyon walls. I was surprised to see so many people in the Park today, but it was fun to see how each person discovers the canyon for themselves. There were the usual serious amateur pohtographers with their tripods and gear vests setting up in the usual locations trying to get the lighting just right. And of course there were the foreign tourists, all decked out in European hiking wear and shooting pictures of everything. Then there were the little families, kids scuffling their feet through the piles of leaves and dragging sticks along the river banks, while parents smiled at their wonder. Of course, the mule deer just go about their business, pretty much oblivious to the human traffic. I think the funnest thing is to listen to the chatter of the hikers just coming down from the rigorous and sometimes frightening hike up Angel's Landing. After that hike everyone feels like they've done something wonderful. I'm back in the studio now in the early afternoon, tired and energized by my time spent in another amazing part of God's creations.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Lake Powell Painting

Roland Lee watercolor painting of Lake Powell
I just finished this painting today. I enjoyed the contrast of warms and cools in the rocks and water.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Art Books Presented at Southern Utah Watercolor Society Meeting

Sue Cotter Art Book Fossil RidgeAt the monthly meeting of the Southern Utah Watercolor Society tonight we enjoyed a presentation by Sue Cotter on methods of making "Art Books." I was amazed at the many methods of constructing these one-of-a-kind wonders. It looks like a fun way to prepare sketch books and travel journals. Pictured is Sue's handmade book called "Fossil Ridge." You can see more of her work at

Snow, Jensen, and Reese Law Firm Purchases Roland Lee Painting

Sagebruch Serenade watercolor painting of red rocks by Roland Lee
The Law Firm of Snow, Jensen, and Reese selected one of my largest watercolor paintings for their new offices in the Tonaquint area of St. George. They chose "Sagebrush Serenade" a watercolor painting of the red rock area near Snow Canyon in southern Utah. Jane Juber, the owner of The Mission Gallery, which handles my work, completed the sale today.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Watercolor Painting Workshop

Roland Lee Watercolor Painting Landscape workshopWe had a great group of artists at our November Watercolor Landscape Painting Workshop held at Passion for Painting Gallery the past two days. It's always fun to rub shoulders with those who have an interest in painting the landscape. This was an especially solid group of artists who picked right up on the techniques of Negative Painting or what I call Back-painting. Photo above: Back row - Mary Hardy, Glen Bessonette, Edith Austin, Roland Lee, Tina Scott, Betty Barnhart. Front - Glenda Caskey, Kami Taylor, and Shirley Pyper.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Watercolor Painting of Duck Creek

Watercolor painting of Duck Creek on Cedar Mountain, Utah

Watercolor painting of Duck Creek on Cedar Mountain, UtahI did this little 8 x 12 painting last Friday just before leaving for a quick trip to northern Utah. The subject is a pastoral fishing lake on Cedar Mountain called "Duck Creek."

Watercolor painting of Duck Creek on Cedar Mountain, UtahI used the painting as an example in a two-day workshop I'm teaching right now. I used my usual approach, beginning with a rough sketch, then working on 140 lb. Arches watercolor paper. I began with a simple sky with just enough interest to set the mood, but not overpower the foreground. Then I began simple washes on the background Aspens and the water.

Watercolor painting of Duck Creek on Cedar Mountain, UtahI chose to darken the foreground in shadow to contrast with the glowing Aspens. The dark green Spruces helped to set off the golden leaves as well.

Click here for purchasing information on this painting of Duck Creek

Halloween Night Visitor

photo of a Common king snake

On Halloween night we had a scary experience. I left our front door open to watch for Halloween spooks, and we soon found a really scary visitor in our living room--a 3-foot long King Snake! Yikes! At first we thought it was a Halloween prank, but we soon realized it was real when it started to slither across the carpet with its tongue darting in and out. Well, we ushered him out the door, and I transferred him out to the desert behind our house where I thought he (and we) would be much happier. Desert creatures are commonplace around our home but this is our first snake encounter. I guess I won't leave the front door wide open for tricker-treaters again!