Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wet Weather and Watercolor

Left: "North Fork of the Virgin River" 8 x 12 by Roland Lee

We have had unprecedented moisture in the state of Utah the past few days, which is fortunate for the ski resorts but disastrous for the canyons and deserts. We experienced both as we were pounded by the white stuff while visiting our grandkids in northern Utah, then endured a looooong snowy drive back home only to find the southern deserts being flooded by burgeoning rivers. It's amazing to see nature's incredible power at work and see the landscape carved before our eyes. It is indeed a thing of beauty and terror at the same time. Today I posted a painting on my website of the north fork of the Virgin River the way it looked only a short time ago--quiet, gentle, and harmless. The irony is obvious.

Underneath that big pile of white stuff is my truck. Brrrrr!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Flying with the Wright Brothers at the National Finals Rodeo

Roland Lee (center) with Saddle Bronc riders Jesse Wright (left) and Cody Wright at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Nevada.

Each year we head south to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo. Of course we spend plenty of time checking out the artists and artisans at the "Cowboy Christmas" show before the rodeo.While there yesterday we stopped at G bar G to visit with a couple of our Utah contestants, brothers Cody Wright and Jesse Wright who are ranked (today) #1 and #3 in the world in Saddle Bronc.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Buckaroos and Artists -- Waddie Mitchell and the Arizona Strip

Roland Lee, cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell, and Lyman Hafen at the Arizona Strip Interpretive Association's annual dinner
The Arizona Strip Interpretive Association held their annual fund-raising banquet and auction last night. As in most years, I donated a piece of art for their silent auction. In addition to a great dinner, we saw a preview of the new documentary by Phil Tuckett on the CCC camps on the Arizona Strip. But the highlight was a performance by everyone's favorite cowboy poet, Waddie Mitchell. My wife Nellie and I were fortunate enough to sit with Debbie and Lyman Hafen, and Lisa and Waddie Mitchell during dinner. Afterwards Waddie treated us to some of his delightful cowboy humor spoken with the slow Buckaroo drawl and precise timing that only he can deliver. I'm often asked to donate art to auctions, but I'm seldom entertained as well as we were last night.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran Plein Air Show a huge success for everyone involved

The weather was incomparable, the fall colors at their peak, and the artists were in their glory this past week in Zion National Park. It all ended too soon as far as I was concerned, but our glorious "painting vacation" in Zion went out with a bang as hundreds of collectors showed up for the Friday "High-noon Quick-Draw" competition and even more for the big preview Friday night. I was able to complete 8 paintings this week, which is some kind of a record for me, plus another in the one-hour quick draw. My Quick-Draw painting won the high bid at the auction and I sold four more paintings at the plein air sale, and also sold my piece in the Museum show. Most of the other artists did equally as well and the Zion National Park Foundation was able to generate a substantial sum for their projects.

A crowd gathered as the one-hour timer began in the "Quick Draw" event. 23 artists set up around the Human History Museum and collectors dashed from artist to artist watching paintings come alive before their eyes

I am using an Anderson easel and my favorite painting chair to get comfortable for the ordeal. Actually it went quite smoothly and I was relaxed enough to answer questions while I painted

The finished painting of "Mountain of the Sun" seen in the distance

I was impressed with the quality of the paintings produced in such a short time. Although still wet, all paintings were required to be framed and ready for the auction within 30 minutes of completion

I was fortunate to have a number of people bidding on my painting, but Debbie Mace from Sandy, Utah was the high bidder and went home with the painting

The Zion National Park Nature Center became a gorgeous art gallery for the next two days as specially-built panels were used to display the plein air paintings

A limited-ticket reception and sale took place Friday night with a standing room only crowd. Eager collectors snapped up dozens of pieces in the opening minutes of the show and more throughout the weekend. A number of ribbons were given for purchase awards.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran" Plein Air Paint-Out in Zion Park - First 3 Days

What a marvelous week we are having in Zion National Park. We joined about 22 other artists for the 2nd Invitational Plein air art event celebrating Tomas Moran's visit to Zion Canyon. Sales from the show and quick draw will benefit the Zion National Park Foundation. The gorgeous Majestic View Lodge provided our wonderful accommodations for the week.

Things kicked off Monday with a quick breakfast for the artists at the Mean Bean in Springdale (the fresh apricot scones are to die for). After an introduction and directions from show organizer Anne Weiler-Brown the artists headed out in different directions to find the ideal painting spots. Lucky for us the Canyon Cottonwoods and Red Maples all turned on cue this week providing a myriad of colorful vistas to choose from. For me it's like a kid in a candy store. To have a full week in Zion, with no restrictions, and paint kit in hand -- I'm one happy boy!

Monday I got started with a quick small study of the West Temple from Pine Creek, then moved on up to Heaps Canyon where the yellow Cottonwoods added a fresh glow to the red cliffs. I did a sketchbook value study to determine my composition then launched into the painting. I used my Anderson easel, and folding chair to make things very comfortable.

Tuesday we drove up to East Zion for a day painting in one of my favorite spots near Checkerboard Mesa. The fall colors were perfect and the weather was toasty. I did a few studies in both my sketchbook and in watercolor of some of the gnarly old Junipers.

At lunch I met Nellie at the Clear Creek Guest Ranch just outside the East entrance, where my son Jon is the manager. We had a nice visit with my grandkids who are in heaven living at that wonderful place.

This morning I got moving early before the sun came up and climbed the hill behind our hotel where I set up my easel awaiting the sunrise. Experience had told me that the first rays of sun would light up West Temple and the Three Marys in a spectacular display of reds. I started my sketch while it was just getting light and laid in the basic washes on the cliffs, sky and foreground. By the time the sun peaked over Johnson Mountain I was poised and ready to slap on the yellows and oranges. I only had about 20 minutes before the shadow crawled all the way down the face, so I worked as fast as I could. The air warmed considerably as the sun bathed the entire valley but I continued to work on the painting until I felt good about it.

Still full of enthusiasm I headed up Canyon where I sketched some sacred Datura flowers, and did a small study of the East face Zion from just outside the entrance to the Park. After lunch I found a pastoral, but vibrant spot at a little waterfall on Pine Creek and used my tiny portable paint set to do a nice study. The warm air, cool babbling creek, and bright yellow leaves all around just seemed too perfect. Indeed I felt very lucky.

This afternoon we got together with a few of the collectors who are providing purchase awards. Hal and Julie Anderson selected my painting "Angel's Walk" from the studio show in the Museum as their purchase. Hal also serves on the board of directors of Zion Natural History Association.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Receiving "Signature Status" highlights 90th Annual National Watercolor Society Exhibit

Roland Lee and his painting of Lake Powell which was accepted into the 90the annual NWS show in Long Beach CA
Roland Lee and his painting of Lake Powell which was accepted into the 90the annual NWS show in Long Beach CA

The National Watercolor Society's new gallery was a beautiful venue for the 90th annual show. I was pleased to have my painting given a prominent location in the exhibit.

Roland Lee receives signature membership from John Salminen and NWS president Mike Bailey at the 90th annual NWS exhibit
Roland Lee receives signature membership from John Salminen and NWS president Mike Bailey at the 90th annual NWS exhibit

Nellie and I traveled to Long Beach California over the weekend to attend the opening reception and banquet for the 90th annual National Watercolor Society. I was pleased to have my painting of Lake Powell accepted in the exhibition, but was especially honored by being inducted into the NWS as a signature member. Noted watercolorist John Salminen presented the award along with NWS president Mike Bailey at a special luncheon October 31 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Pedro. Following the presentation we attended the show opening and ribbon-cutting of the new National Watercolor Society Gallery in San Pedro. The NWS is one of the oldest and most respected art societies and it is indeed an honor to be accepted as a signature member.

Roland Lee and artist Frank Eber at the NWS exhibit October 2010
I enjoyed meeting some of the other artists I respect and admire including Frank Eber.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Painting foliage and water subject of October workshop

For two days we poured over painting water (no pun intended)as well as dipped into the technique of negative painting, or "back painting" fall foliage in watercolor during my latest workshop. 20 wonderful artists enrolled for the workshop coming from Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado. They all proved up to the task as we had a great time together. Thanks to Warren and Carol Larson from the Hurricane Valley Art Alliance (HVAA) for organizing and sponsoring the workshop

1st L-R Gail Alger, Mark Gunn Rose, Jan Hansen, Gayla Folkman, Roland Lee & Mike Smith
2nd Lola Krummenacher, Carol Larson, Shirlee Last, Sharon Cannon, Judy Stringham, Johanna Monroe & Karel Armstrong
3rd Jim Lanier, Shirley Faux, John Armstrong, Kathy Morlan, Maja Gray, Pete Sauer, Sherri Havelka & John Mangels

Monday, October 18, 2010

Artist in Residence at Mesa Verde National Park

I was just notified of my acceptance as Artist in Residence at Mesa Verde National Monument during Fall of 2011. Frank Cope, the director of the program, invited me to participate and I am very excited to be able to spend a couple of weeks exploring the rich cultural and geologic history of that part of the country. My residency will be from October 3 to October 15, 2011.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Watercolor Workshop at Brighton

Now this is what I call a workshop! I was invited by a fine group of Salt Lake area artists to present a special watercolor class at one of the members homes in the Brighton resort area. The lovely big log lodge owned by Bill and Heidi Vriens was not only our classroom but our lodging while we were there. Set on the mountainside near Brighton and Solitude ski resorts, the setting was breathtaking, surrounded by beautiful aspens, pines, and Spruces providing an unbelievable backdrop for our time together. Our workshop delved into the techniques of portraying water and a field trip to the nearby Silver Lake as the sun went down proved to be a perfect way to study the reflections. Workshop participants included Margo Cook, Virginia Pearce, Heidi Vriens, Laurel Finlinson, Antje Evans, Christena Gates, Joan Reynolds, Dixie Stoddard, Jan Zwick, and Debbie Hogan.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Clyde Aspevig guest artist at Maynard Dixon Country Plein Air Invitational

Gallery owner Paul Bingham introduces noted landscape artist Clyde Aspevig at the Maynard Dixon Country Plein Air event at Mt. Carmel Utah

We enjoyed spending a little time with some great artists at the Maynard Dixon Plein Air Invitational last weekend. The event, sponsored by the Thunderbird foundation and Paul and Susan Bingham's Art Gallery, annually hosts some of the most recognized outdoor landscape painters in the west. This year noted landscapist Clyde Aspevig was guest artists and presented a painting demo and lecture that was enlightening and entertaining. He spoke of "land snorkeling" a term he coined to describe looking at nature up close and painting the intimate beauty of the landscape rather than just the big panorama. What a treat to join with other artists and art collectors to watch him work up a small landscape.

Anyone familiar with Maynard Dixon's paintings will recognize this famous thunderbird symbol silhouetted against a typical Dixon cloud-filled sky.

Artist Craig Fetzer (left) chats with fellow artists Spike Ress and Sue Cotter in front of the "wet painting" wall at the Maynard Dixon Country Plein Air art show

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Remembering the Pioneers

Saturday was a significant day for my wife and I as we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. We've had a lot of fun together over the years, and we're still finding new ways to "pull together." In honor of our own pioneer ancestors we pulled a handcart in the Days of 47 Pioneer parade in Salt Lake City. Thousands of Mormon pioneers successfully used this method to walk across America in the 1800's but unfortunately some also lost their lives in the process. We only had to walk a few miles on pavement tugging a semi-empty cart loaded with Aquafina bottles, but the oppressive heat convinced us that those stalwart pioneers had to be a rugged lot. It is well to be reminded once in a while of just how good we have it. I don't know if we'll be in front of a handcart on our 40th anniversary next year, but I do know we'll still be pulling together--and enjoying it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Plein Air Painting in Snow Canyon

The Visual Artists Association had their monthly meeting outdoors this week, as we gathered in Snow Canyon for a paint out. We picked a shady spot to dodge the late afternoon sun and spent a pleasant hour or so working on sketches and paintings.

I chose this little cliff for my painting and started with a quick 10 minute value study in my sketchbook. I then jumped right into my little painting using my Cotman watercolor travel kit to quickly capture the gesture and feeling of the late afternoon light on the red cliffs of Snow Canyon. I am using a 5 x 8 sheet of Arches watercolor paper mounted on "Incredible Art Board" from Dick Blick. The collapsible sable brush is from Daniel Smith.

About 15 fellow artists showed up for the paint out in Snow Canyon. Most of the artists were using watercolor although some used other mediums as well.

Our fearless leader Craig Fetzer shared some great art stories with us as we painted together.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

First-time Art Show of Original Roland Lee Landscape Paintings at Zion National Park Museum June 2 - July 1

Roland Lee, Leslie Courtright (curator of the Zion Museum) and Technical assistant Justin Hall stand by Roland's newest painting, "Canyon Snowfall" at the Zion National Park Museum

Roland Lee art prints, cards, and books have been sold at Zion National Park for many years, but for the first time my original paintings are now available at Zion. Today we hung an exhibit called "Zion Canyonscapes" featuring mostly new original landscape paintings of Zion's canyons and peaks. The show is jointly sponsored by Zion National Park and the Zion Natural History Association. All paintings are for sale and a portion of the sales will benefit the Zion National Park Foundation to help finance conservation and interpretive projects within Zion National Park.

"Zion Canyonscapes" will remain on exhibit in the art gallery area of the Human History Museum (the old visitors center)through July 1, 2010. The show is free but regular park entrance fees apply. You can drive directly to the museum and park there, or take the free shuttle from the main visitors center. Museum Hours are 10am to 7pm daily.

The show features 12 new paintings of Zion National Park including "Angels Above, Heaven Below" a huge painting from Angel's landing Trail (center.)

Nellie Lee looks over the exhibit which includes a step by step demonstration and display of Roland's plein air painting kit and sketchbook

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Salt Lake City Artist Group Comes to St. George Painting Workshop

Instead of traveling to Salt Lake City to present a watercolor workshop, I had a special group of artists come from Salt Lake to St. George this week. We enjoyed to two days together hashing through the principles of art and learning to see in nature. What as outstanding bunch of artists with really good questions! These wonderful artists get together once a week to paint and it shows in their work. Their eagerness to learn was only matched by their ability to pick up new concepts quickly. We spent most of the time in the studio at A Passion for Painting, but we slipped away for some close-up observation and sketching up in the Red Hills Desert Reserve. Artists included: Virginia Pearce, Heidi Vriens, Laurel Finlinson, Antje Evans, Christena Gates, Joan Reynolds, Dixie Stoddard, Jan Zwick, and Margo Cook.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Visions Art Show Held at Santa Clara Town Hall

Roland Lee paints oudoors during the Quick Draw at the Santa Clara New visions Art Show a
We enjoyed two days at the Santa Clara Town Hall for the third annual New Visions Art Show. All the artists were present for a terrific indoor show and sale, plus an outdoor "quick draw" event on Saturday. Each artist had all day to paint and at the conclusion a silent auction was held for the completed and framed pieces. The bidding was fast and furious as the show wound down to the final seconds.

Larry and Rebecca Isakson with artist Roland Lee and the painting they purchase by silent auction
Larry and Rebecca Isakson won the bid for my painting of a desert scene, as well as several other paintings.