Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back from our Family History Research Trip

Roland Lee sketching in Nauvoo Illinois

We just returned from about 10 days traveling in the midwest with my brother and sister as we followed the trail of our pioneer ancestors from Illinois to Utah. I kept up my travel sketchbook and planned a few paintings I will be working on this summer in my studio.

Above: Grant Lee, Andrea Lee Conley, and Roland Lee stand on the property once owned by their ancestor Francis Lee in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Photo of The Ellis Sanders Bed and Breakfast in Nauvoo Illinois
Above: Nellie stands in front of the elegant and finely appointed Ellis Sanders Bed and Breakfast which was our home for three days in Nauvoo. David and Diane Owen, the owners, provide a multi-course breakfast that is amazing. This house was once owned by my sister-in-law's ancestor Ellis Sanders, so our stay there had special meaning to us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Painting of the Historic Pine Valley Chapel

Roland Lee painting of the Pine Valley Chapel

As I get ready to leave for ten days on a pioneer history trip, I was glad to renew my painting acquaintance with an old friend, the Pine Valley Chapel. I worked hard this past week to complete this commission painting of one of my favorite subjects. The pioneer town of Pine Valley lies in a cool mountain valley about 35 miles north of St. George Utah. This wonderful chapel sits majestically, yet serenely at the center of the town. It has served the townspeople well since the 1800's and is still used as an LDS meeting house to this day.

As I visited the place recently and walked around the grounds, I was amazed that the pine trees that seemed so tiny years ago had grown up to nearly hide the whitewashed walls and steeple. Nice as the evergreens are, I still liked the old view, and chose to paint this scene without them. The ancient cottonwood trees are still there though, hanging on to life. It seemed more fitting to include them in the painting. We are all getting older. Click to learn more about this painting

Large Scale Paintings of Zion Result From the Thomas Moran Paint-out

I am still overcome by the experience of painting en plein air during the week-long invitational "In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran." What a grand experience that was to let my senses soak in the grandeur of that wonderful place. After returning to the studio, while still under Zion's spell, I produced a couple of really large landscape paintings in an attempt to capture the glory of the place called "Zion."

Morning Light on the Sentinel Zion National Park painting by Roland Lee

I both sketched and painted this scene of Zion's Sentinel on location in Zion Canyon. However I really wanted to dramatize it in a big way. This was completed in my studio from my on-location studies. Click for information about this painting

Not feeling like I was capturing the scale of Zion's huge cliffs, I went even larger with this painting of sheer cliffs in the afternoon light along Taylor Creek in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion Park. It is a portrait of the sculpting that goes on daily as Zion is carved and shaped by the master sculptor. Click for more information about this painting.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sons of Utah Pioneers

Roland Lee in front of Dean Terry's Stage Coach at Washington Cotton Days Festival

I am the President-elect of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, a service group whose mission is to honor pioneers of the past, present and future. Part of our goal is to teach the younger generation about history and instill in them a desire to be better citizens. On Friday and Saturday the SUP participated in the Washington City Cotton Festival where we had a wagon in the parade and set up a display of wagons, buggies, and pioneer relics. Dressed in pioneer garb, we spoke to school children from all of the local elementary schools. They were especially enthralled with the big red stage coach, which they were totally unfamiliar with. Some called it a fire engine, a boat, or a princess carriage.

Cotton Mission Chapter Sons of Utah Pioneers entry in Cotton Days Parade 2009

The Sons of Utah Pioneers wagon in the parade was pulled by a beautifully restored tractor

Sons of Utah Pioneers member Dean Terry and school children try out a pioneer hand cart at Cotton Days Festival

Dean Terry of Terry's Twin Springs Ranch supplied all the wagons for the display from his personal collection. Here he lets the second grade schoolchildren try out pulling hand-made replica of a pioneer handcart.


We attended the premiere viewing of the new television documentary film "Red Rock Rondo" on Saturday night at the Zion Amphitheater. The film features a contemporary folk musical group, Red Rock Rondo, as they pay tribute to the early settlers of southern Utah and Zion Canyon. It was a stunning presentation! The film airs in Utah on KUED public television May 21.

Artists Roland Lee and Donal Jolley at REd Rock Rondo preview

One of my artist friends, Donal Jolley is the son of the first chief ranger of Zion National Park and was one of only a few people actually born in the park. He and his wife Velma were on hand for the opening reception and premiere.

Donal Jolley (left) greets JL Crawford at the premiere. Both were born in Zion Park. Watching are Don's wife Velma, Don Falvey retired superintendent of Zion National Park, and Lyman Hafen, Executive Director of the Zion Natural History Association.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Artists Demonstrate Techniques at A New Vision Exhibit

Roland Lee painting demonstration
Several of the guest artists set up their easels and demonstrated their painting techniques to the visitors at the Santa Clara New Visions show last weekend. I worked on a watercolor painting called "Light on the Peak."

Artist Charles Dayton painting of a cowboyCharles Dayton showed his considerable skill as he combined photos of a landscape with cowboy reference and nearly completed a small oil painting.

Keith Bond demonstrates painting aspen trees in oil

Keith Bond oil painting of AspensKeith Bond is equally adept at small paintings as he is with the murals he recently painted for the Utah State Capitol Building. He painted this ala prima scene of aspen trees while everyone watched in awe.

Annette Everett demonstrates clay sculpting to small group of onlookers

Annette Everett worked on a bust of a young girl, answering questions as she worked.She is an amazing sculptor, having won Best of Show at the Women Artists of America show last year with "Duet, Mary and Martha."

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Santa Clara Historic Mural Dedicated

Julie Rogers mural showing the pioneer history of Santa Clara Utah

The new Santa Clara historic mural dedication was well-attended as community members and descendents of the early pioneer settlers gathered to see the grand unveiling. My close friend and fellow artist Julie Rogers spent many months working on the project from research to completion. The whole city of Santa Clara witnessed the creation of the mural as Julie did all the painting on site, using actual descendents as live models.

The mural idea was conceived by Kathleen Nielson who shared her thoughts on the event, and afterward Julie explained the processes used and told about the choice experiences she had and the bonds created while painting the mural. I feel a closeness as well as I was part of the selection committee and knew Julie's talent and spirit would be perfect for this project.

Friday, May 01, 2009

New Visions Art Show Gets Underway

A number of Gallery artists were on hand for the opening of the New Visions of Art show at the Santa Clara Town Hall this morning. The show continues tomorrow 10am to 8pm.
New Visions Santa Clara Art Show

My art display was in the middle of the hall adjacent to the sculpture display of well-known artist L'Deane Trueblood. In addition to my original paintings I also displayed the new art books I'm featured in, and showed my travel sketchbooks.

Jane Juber (left) owner of The Mission Gallery with sculptor Annette Everett.

David Koch painting display at New Visions Santa Clara exhibit

Annette Everett demonstrates sculpting a bust in clay to Santa Clara school children.

Artist Kieth Bond

Artist Kieth Bond talks to art collectors in front of his oil paintings.