Monday, April 28, 2008

Virgin River in Zion Canyon Step by Step Watercolor Painting Demonstration

A Patch of blue - Watercolor painting of the Virgin River in Zion Canyon by Roland Lee"A Patch of blue" Watercolor painting of the Virgin River in Zion canyon by Roland Lee

This is a big 22" x 30" full-sheet watercolor painting I started last week and finished up today. I am trying to combine some of the water reflection painting techniques I learned from David Drummond (see my Lake Powell paintings), with the more traditional reflection painting technique I often use for rivers. What caught my attention in the scene was the colorful reflection in the still part of the river. A look at the painting will tell you why I call it "A Patch of Blue." Click here for purchase information on this painting

Click on step-by-step paintings below for enlarged views

How to paint water reflections demonstration in watercolor by Roland Lee step 1How to paint water reflections demonstration in watercolor by Roland Lee step 2

How to paint water reflections demonstration in watercolor by Roland Lee step 3How to paint water reflections demonstration in watercolor by Roland Lee step 4

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Photos of Desert Tortoises near St. George, Utah in the Red Clfifs Desert Reserve

Photo of desert tortoise in Utah Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Photo of desert tortoise in Utah Red Cliffs Desert ReserveI had another close encounter of the Tortoise kind on my walk in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. As I walked up the trail I spotted a tortoise ambling up the trail towards me. He was about 30 feet away, so I just stopped and stood still thinking he would divert his path. Instad he got closer and closer without turning. then I discovered what he was after. He walked right up into my shadow and plunked himself down for a nice rest in a shady spot right at my feet.

Photo of desert tortoise in Utah Red Cliffs Desert ReserveWhen I finally moved he quickly ducked in his shell, then wandered off into the desert shrubs. I don't know who was more surprised, him or me.Photo of desert tortoise in Utah Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Click to see some more Roland Lee photos of desert tortoises in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Series of Old Nauvoo Paintings - Painting of Nauvoo Blacksmith Shop and Red Brick Store

Roland Lee painting of Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store in old Nauvoo Illinois. My ancestor James Henry Rollins worked in this store.

Roland Lee painting of Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store in old Nauvoo Illinois. My ancestor James Henry Rollins worked in this store Click here for more information about this painting

Roland Lee painting of the old Blacksmithe and Farrier shop in Nauvoo Illinois. roland's ancestor Orin Nelson Woodbury worked in this shop

Roland Lee painting of the Webb Blacksmith and Farrier shop in Nauvoo Illinois. My ancestor Orin Nelson Woodbury worked in this shop.
Click here for more information about this painting

Last summer we went on a LDS Church History Trip across the United States following the old Mormon Pioneer Trail, a route followed by many of my own pioneer ancestors. Of course I completed a number of drawings along the way in my travel sketchbook with the intention of doing a series of pioneer paintings. With encouragement from other family members I keyed in places where my ancestors lived and worked. For the past month I have been working on a couple of these paintings and it's been slow going. I kept changing them in one way or another tryng to capture what I both saw and felt about the experience.

I was able to follow the painting process on both of them with step by step photos which I will post as soon as I can get them ready for downloading. For now here are the two paintings.

James Henry Rollins Pioneer History

Monday, April 21, 2008

Joshua Trees and Cactus Flowers

Photo of Joshua Trees by Roland Lee

Photo of cactus blossoms by Roland Lee

I took my wife to the airport in Las Vegas (off to see our new granddaughter in Houston)and on the way back this morning I decided to use the Old Highway and stop off at the Woodbury Desert Reserve. Located on the Beaver Dam slope near Littlefield it is a forest of gnarly twisted Joshua Trees. The Joshua blooms were done but the wildflowers were perfect. Of course I had to share a few more pictures with you.

I noticed a strange side effect from my wildflower searches -- hay fever! I've been sneezing all day today, so I might have to cut back a little til the pollen quits blowing around.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Paintings Selected for Utah Watercolor Society Spring Exhibition

Painting of Kolob Canyons in the Spring Utah Watercolor Society Exhibition by Roland Lee

Banjo Player painting juried into the 2008Utah Watercolor Society Spring ExhibitionTwo of my paintings were selected for the Spring Exhibition of the Utah Watercolor Society. The show opens May 15 at palmer Gallery in Salt lake city, Utah. The juror selected "Banjo Man" a very loose watercolor study of a man playing the banjo, and "Stone Buttress" a painting of the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park. The show was juried by noted watercolorist Jean H. Grastorf AWS, NWS. Stone Buttrress previously won Best of Show at the Southern Utah Watercolor Society exhibit at the St. George Art Museum.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Photos of Desert Tortoise and Wildflowers in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Photo of Desert Tortoise in the Red Hills Desert Reserve near St. George Utah

I've taken up walking during my lunch hour as a way of getting in better shape and getting in touch with my inner "desert tortoise." I love the desert. I relish the feel of the sun on my back, the sand between my toes, and the solitude of walking alone in the outdoors. Just 5 minutes above my studio is the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a wilderness habitat for desert creatures such as the Desert Tortoise. On my walk today I actually saw a little tortoise which is a fairly rare occurance. He was basking on a sandstone rock right in the center of the trail. He didn't seem to mind my shooting a quick photo before continuing on my way. As I looked back I was a little relieved to see him sauntering away from the trail to a safer location.

Photo of cactus blossoms in Red Hills Desert Reserve by roland LeeAn added bonuse of walking the desert right now is discovering the spring wildflowers. Lots of white, yellow, and purple, but during the past week the cactus have begun blooming. It's not hard to spot them with their brilliant red blossoms.

Photo of wildflowers in Red Hills Desert Reserve by roland Lee

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to Paint Skies in Watercolor - Workshop Demonstration

How to paint skies in watercolor by Roland Lee
"Desert Sky" 6.5 x 10 watercolor by Roland Lee
Click here for purchase information

In yesterday's watercolor workshop I demonstrated how easy it is to paint skies in watercolor. In the painting above for the sky I used Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, and Ultramarine Blue, letting the pigments mingle in a wet in wet wash for the cloud shadows. I like to complete the sky in about 3 minutes then let it go. This usually results in a natural looking sky with rich glowing light in the cloud areas.

Watercolor technique How to Paint Skies by Roland LeeAfter completing the sky I allow it to dry and paint in the distant mesa and a light wash over the foreground area, so I can evaluate my lights and darks. With the initial values in place I use my pencil to sketch in some of the shadows and details on the shrubs.

Watercolor technique How to Paint Skies by Roland LeeAt this stage I bring the painting into sharper focus by putting additional darks in the shadow areas and adding the foreground elements. Finally I put in some strong directional shadows across the foreground. the painting should be finished, but I decide the sky might need a little more attention.

Watercolor technique How to Paint Skies by Roland LeeOrdinarily I complete the sky in one pass, but I feel that there needs to be a little more drama in the cloud shadows so I decide to apply a second glaze. This is risky business, since it can muddy up a clean wash if not done correctly. First I completely re-wet the sky area with a 1-inch flat brush and clear water. While wet, I touch a mixture of Ultramarine blue and Quinacridone Coral on the underside of the clouds to darken them slightly.

Watercolor technique How to Paint Skies by Roland LeeI like the new result better.

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 2008 Watercolor Landscape Painting Workshop at A Passion for Painting Gallery

April 2008 Roland Lee Watercolor Workshop

I enjoyed spending the day with 7 excellent artists today who signed up for my April Landscape workshop, Sponsored by Becky Whitney at A Passion for Painting Art Gallery. I am always amazed at the raw talent that I see regularly in these classes. I love to see what they come up with, and today I saw some great stuff. I'm looking forward to another fun day tomorrow. Artists include: John Mangels, Lynda Burruss, Wendy Green, Faye Montrose, Gail Alger, John Sewell, Marilyn Goldtooth.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fishing is an Art too!

Roland Lee with lunker largemouth bass caught on Senko at Sand Hollow Reservoir

Okay, I know this blog is about art, but fishing is an art too. The weather is warming up rapidly and our bass lakes are calling us. I stole away from the studio a few days ago with Robert Eves and my son Jon to see if we could roust anything up at Sand Hollow Reservoir. Unfortunately Robert's bass boat had a malfunction so we Fishing expert Robert Eves used a Senko texpose rig to catch this nice largemouth bass at Sand Hollowtried fishing from the shoreline. Robert taught me a new rigging using a Senko lure from Gary Yamamoto with a "Texpose" weedless rigging. You fish it extremely slowly crawling it over the rocky bottom. I managed to pull up this big largemouth bass with it and now I'm a believer too.

Photos: Top, My big lunker. Left: Robert Eves with one of his big catches on the Senko rigging.Left bottom: Jon helps Robert land another big'un.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ivins Reservoir Photo on KSL TV

Ivins Reservoir Photo b Roland Lee

Nellie and I took an evening walk along the Ivins Reservoir in Kayenta this evening. We experienced a fantastic sunny day today with temperatures in the high 70's and it was the perfect end to a great southern Utah day. I sent this photo to KSL weather and it aired on television 10:00 news tonight.

New Sculpture Placed in St. George "Water Walk"

Mayor Dan McArthur, Annette Everett, and Lyman Hafen unveil Everett's new bronze sculpture Sand ManI serve as a volunteer on the St. George City Public Arts Commission. We are responsible for acquiring and placing sculptures in the city. We have recently finished a "Water Walk" which winds down Main Street and ends in interactive water features in the new City Plaza. A special feature was the placement of a sculpture by Annette Everett called "Sand Man" which honored the many volunteers who helped sandbag homes during a terrible flood recently. My best friend Lyman Hafen spoke at the ceremony and the sculpture was enveiled.

Photo:Mayor Dan McArthur, Annette Everett, and Lyman Hafen unveil Everett's new bronze sculpture Sand Man

Friday, April 11, 2008

Painting light and shadow in watercolor - Cliffs on Fire Red Mesa Painting

/watercolor painting by Roland Lee of southern Utah red mesa
In this new painting I tried to capture the effects of light and shadow on the desert. The red sandstone of the cliffs and mesas in southern Utah takes on various hues depending on the lighting. But the very best time is when the sun is nearly down, the lower part of the cliffs are in shadow and the mesa tops are on fire with orange sunlight.

Watercolor painting by Roland LeePainting this effect in watercolor requires me to lay down underglazes of very warm hues, and come back over the top with cooler glazes for the shadows. The sky in this painting was laid out quickly using a wet-into-wet technique. I am happy with the soft edges in the sky as warm light transitions to cool. Notice the splattering effect in the lower part of the painting created by tapping a brush with clear water into the almost-dry wash. This gives a very natural texture to the under-glazes.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Step by Step Watercolor "Zion's River"

Roland Lee Watercolor painting of Virgin River in Zion National Park"Zion's River" 8x12 watercolor by Roland Lee

This painting was inspired by a fall 2008 hike I took along the Virgin River in Zion National Park. I love the way the sun on the cliffs reflects in the cool blue water.

I am working on Arches 140 lb. Cold-press watercolor paper stapled to "Incredible Art Board". As usual I begin with a light (4h) pencil drawing to define my edges. Using a 1-inch flat brush I start by laying in both the sky and the water at the same time using wet-into-wet technique. First I wet the paper on the sky area and apply a small amount of yellow ochre along the horizon, then do a graded wash with Ultramarine blue from the top down. While that area dries I immediately apply clear water to the water area and float the reflection colors into it.

I allow the pigment to mingle in the wet in wet wash by tipping my board vertically to allow the paint to run down. This helps give the appearance of vertical reflections of the cliffs and trees in the water. Now I let both washes dry completely.

On the distant warm cliffs I lay in the shadow shapes with Quinacridone coral and ultramarine blue allowing the pigments to mingle. Moving down to the foliage I apply simple shapes using both wet in wet and drybrush to create a sense of texture.

I use negative painting (backpainting) in several places to define lighter trunks and branches against the darker background. I also further define the shapes on the cliff with darker applications of paint, making the same adjustments in the water reflections.

My photo reference was taken with my pocket digital camera. In a high contrast lighting situation it is difficult for the camera to read the shadows and the highlights, so the shadows are way to dark with no detail. In my painting I overcome that by lightening the middle ground values.

The finished painting. I feel like I captured the warm glow of the canyon and the colorful reflections in the water. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Studio Visit from the Cub Scouts

Tonight I had a studio visit from a group of Cub Scouts and their leaders. Part of their requirements is to learn about art careers. After talking about careers I had them come into my painting room and showed them the watercolor process. Afterwards each person received a free box of art cards to take home with them.