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.

Demonstration Paintings Step by Step

I focused this class on learning to see the lights in nature. I have learned over the years that we really see objects that are light against dark, rather than dark against light. The objects we see first in the landscape are the ones that are recieving light when viewed against a darker background. In this demonstration I showed the students how to analyze what you see, then work up a simple value study to determine the positive and negative shapes.

Pencil value study for watercolor painting of tree in the sunlight

Above: First I begin with a pencil study to determine lights and darks

Roland Lee Watercolor painting of tree in the sunlight

Above: Detail of the finished watercolor study. Notice how we see the edges clearly because of the contrast between light and dark. It is the main way we see shapes in nature.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Painting Workshop Day 2 -- "Learning to See the Landscape"

I really enjoy teaching workshops, especially because of the friendships that are developed. I was joined by a really special group of students at this class with a ton of talent and experience. Some of their work is truly outstanding. I sure hope I was able to share something with them that was meaningful. If nothing else, I think we all encouraged each other to work harder. I developed a new Powerpoint demonstration for this session called "Learning to see the Landscape."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Painting the Landscape in Watercolor

September 2006 Roland Lee Watercolor Painting workshop participants

September 2006 Roland Lee Watercolor Painting Workshop Participants: Barbara Hunter, Lola Krummenacher, Mary Beth Anderson, Carolyn Ostler, Tyler Nelson, Gevene Savala, Carrie Ruppe, and Lindy Bryant.

I always enjoy getting together with other artists to paint. One of the best ways to get that started is to teach a painting workshop. It's a wonderful place to share ideas, thoughts, and techniques with people who have the same addiction to the art of making pictures. Below is a photo of the demonstration painting I started in class along with the value study sketch I used to plan the painting.

Watercolor Painting demonstration by Roland Lee

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Roland Lee Watercolor Workshop Details

The two-day Roland Lee watercolor workshop September 25-26 will be held at Passion for Painting Gallery located at 310 East Tabernacle Street, St. George, UT 84770. Contact Becky Whitney for registration. Telephone(435) 628 - 5890

Future workshop dates: November 9-10, 2006; January 11-12, 2007; February 8-9, 2007

Roland Lee watercolor painting workshopOnly 8 students are accepted into each workshop to allow plenty of one-on-one time with each workshop participant

Friday, September 22, 2006

Watercolor Landscape Painting Workshop

On Monday and Tuesday I will teach an all-day watercolor landscape painting workshop for advanced students. I consider it a big responsibility to try to share with others the things I have learned in the past 30 years of painting. It's not that I think I know any more than other artists. I can probably share everything I know in just a few minutes. But the act of getting together with other artists and sharing the enthusiasm and excitement of making art, now that's what it is all about.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Painting juried into "Lucky 13" Show

I received notification today that my painting, "Fisherman" was juried into the Lucky 13 National Art Competition in Mesquite Nevada. The show features only miniature paintings which must be less than 13 inches at the longest dimension including the mats and frame. I have to admit this is the smallest painting I've ever had accepted in a national juried exhibition.

The Fisherman, painting of fly fishing by Roland Lee

"The Fisherman" original watercolor by Roland Lee

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Mission Gallery Opens in St. George, Utah

On Friday September 29 The Mission Art Gallery will hold its ribbon cutting and grand opening in St. George, Utah. The gallery, operated by Jane Juber, will feature the work of Roland Lee along with other regional artists. Unlike other galleries in the area, the Mission Gallery carries only high end original artwork. No prints or reproductions are displayed in the gallery. I will be present at the opening reception along with several of the other featured artists. Stop by and see some of my newest paintings. Reception from 6 - 9pm. 173 North Main Street, St. George, UT 84770. For information call Toll Free 866-999-1278.

Painting of Mount Kinesava viewed from Grafton Ghost Town near Rockville Utah

Mt. Kineseva View - Zion National Park, is one of my new watercolor paintings on display at the mission gallery. This view is from the nearby ghost town of Grafton, just outside of Rockville.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Leaves Starting to Turn in Zion Canyon

Travel sketchbook drawing of scrub oak near Zion National Park
Usually about this time of year we head for Vermont to take in the fall colors and do some painting. This year because of the library commission and several workshops I'm teaching I have to forego that pleasure. However, Fall in Utah is something to behold too. While at the cabin yesterday we noticed the change beginning on the oak leaves. With the cool air that worked its way in over the weekend that will probably speed up the process. I scouted out a couple of great spots to return to in Zion Canyon when the Cottonwoods turn their brilliant yellow-gold.

More sketchbook drawings of Zion National Park

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wild Turkeys at Zion National Park

Photo of Wild Turkeys in Zion National Park

Since wild turkeys were introduced to Zion National Park, they have proliferated and done very well. We frequently have them visit our cabin and wander through on their way down the draw to Lemon Springs. They are goofy looking critters with big helmet shaped bodies and an ungainly walk. Their feathers are big enough to make a headdress out of, and my grandkids love to find them. Benjamin Franklin said he thought they would have made a more appropriate national bird than the Bald Eagle.

Zions Ponderosa Ranch

We made a quick overnight trip to our cabin at Zions Ponderosa Ranch on the east boundary of Zion National Park. My excuse was to get a few things done on the cabin before winter, but really I just wanted to inhale the cool mountain air. As the sun began to melt, I went for a little hike in the draw below our cabin to check out the flora and fauna. The oaks are already starting to turn gold near the cabin, while higher up the mountain orange and red are starting to color the landscape. A little breeze rustled the leaves and made it easier for me to remain undetected as I sat still hoping to glimpse some wildlife.

Mule deer photo at Zion National Park
After a while several deer stuck their heads out of the thicket above me and checked me out before sauntering over the ridge. Can you see a deer in the photo above? Check out the closeup below.

Photo of Mule Deer near Zion National Park

Returning to the cabin I stoked up a fire in the old woodstove and we had a little Dinty Moore beef stew and hot chocolate--just the ticket to warm us up for the cool night ahead. As darkness sank around us the temperatures dropped considerably and we decided to add a few blankets to our bed. Before bedding down we went outside again for a last glimpse of the night sky absolutely filled with stars. Ahhh, everything is perfect tonight.

The traditional cabin breakfast at the Rockin RWith morning came the traditional "cabin breakfast" that our kids love so much. Fried eggs, toast, bacon, hot chocolate, and fruit. Does food really taste better in the mountains?

By noon we wandered down into Zion Park and had lunch on a little overlook. I put my digital camera to work gathering some ideas for future paintings. Then back in the studio by mid-afternoon to get back to work.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Finding the Models and the Pioneer Clothing

The Schweitzer Family in pioneer clothing during photo shoot
Today I stopped by and visited a good friend and fellow artist, Sam Lawlor, to get some tips for the library mural project. He is one of the finest artists I know when it comes to the figure and has a lot of experience painting historical scenes. After showing him my rough sketches Sam gave me free reign to use his period costume collection. I left with a big bag of clothing and went right to work.

We know a beautiful young family that lives across the street, the Schweitzers, and they readily agreed to be my models for an afternoon photo shoot. In about an hour I knew I had enough material to help me not only on this painting but several others as well. The kids were fabulous and couldn't have been more perfect.

Here's one of the shots. I think they look wonderful!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Washington County Library Mural

Research Material for the Washington County Library mural in St. George, UtahI met today with Douglas Alder, the Chairman of the Washington County Library Board, and Brenda, the library director, to go over the initial sketches for the library paintings. They were pleased with the concepts, and had a few additional suggestions. Target date for installation is the first week in December 2006, with the official dedication ceremony set for February 19, 2007.

Washington County Library in St. George under constructionIn the photo (l to r)Doug Alder, architect Ben Rogers, and the building project manager.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Library Mural Drawings

I worked up a couple of rough sketches today for the new Washington County Library Painting. I think I've got the idea down, I just need to work out the details. I'm planning a 4' x 8' painting in oils which will be the biggest painting I've ever done. I'm probably crazy, but I really want to do this.

Preliminary drawings for the Washington County Library mural painting by Roland Lee

A 10 inch x 20 inch rough "thumbnail sketch"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Historical Paintings for the new Washington County Library

I will be spending the next couple of months working on a commission painting for for the new Washington County Library. I have been researching the history of the libraries in this area from the first Lyceum Reading Room in Pioneer times to today.

I have painted many historical paintings of the southern Utah area in the past, and I especially enjoy the research part of it. This project is a little tougher, because I have to include all four of the former buildings and there has not been much written on the subject. Luckilly I do have some good old photos to use as reference. Over the next couple of months I will try to post my progress.

Sketch for the Washington County LibraryThis is one of my rough thumbnail sketches of the painting figures. I will do dozens of thumbnail drawings trying to work out an effective composition. When I get it all figured out, I will actually schedule a session with costumed models.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Capitol Reef National Park

Roland Lee sketching on location in Capitol Reef National Park in preparation for a watercolor painting of Capitol Reef
Ahhh! Doing what I love the most -- being outside in nature with my sketchbook.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sketchbook drawings of Capitol Reef National Park

travel sketchbook pencil drawing of the Fremont River in Capitol Reef National ParkSATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2006
The rest of the families rolled into camp and we set up in the beautiful group camping area for fun and games. The grandkids loved the deer roaming through camp. In the morning I took my travel sketchbook and hiked up the Fremont River Trail. I stopped along the way to enjoy the view as the narrow trail wound higher and higher up the cliffs. Resting in the shade, I did this sketchbook drawing of the valley below. The Fremont River meanders peacefully between the awesome cliffs and towers creating an unbelievable scene.


travel sketchbook pencil drawing of the Gifford farm in Capitol Reef National ParkWe enjoyed a wonderful cool night with the rain pelting our tent for several hours. It broke up just long enough about 3:00 in the morning for us to go out and see the full moon peeking out from behind the clouds. As morning broke I took a few photos and did some sketchbook drawings of the old pioneer buildings at the Gifford farm, then took the road toward Panorama Point and made some sketchbook studies of the old twisted Cedar trees and the strange tumbled rock towers that abound everywhere you sketchbook pencil drawing of Cedar Tree in Capitol Reef National Park
The sky was filled with huge gathering thunderclouds and made a perfect backdrop for the spectacular scenery. As expected, it wasn't long til the sky opened up and the desert became a glistening lake. I took cover up under some huge boulders and kept right on sketching. This old cedar tree was a perfect model as I studied its twisted branches. It makes me wonder at the raw power nature uses to bend and shape both living things and stone in the desert.


Travel sketchbook pencil drawing of mule deer in the apple orchard at Capitol Reef National ParkIt rained all the way over to Capitol Reef National Park and let up just long enough for us to set up our tent and settle in. Already dark from the clouds, nightfall began to set in quickly. I grabbed my travel sketchbook and tried to capture some quick pencil sketches of the mule deer who had wandered into the orchard where we were camped. They have learned to stand on their hind legs and reach high to get the juicy apples, and usually bed down in the tall cool grass under the trees.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Reunion at Capitol Reef National Park

About this time each year we have a family reunion of sorts at Capitol Reef National Park. We rent the group campground and spend a few days hiking and introducing the kids to the wonders of the outdoors. What we like most about the campground is that it's surrounded by apple orchards ready to harvest. Not only do we get to pick them but we get to watch the deer come down and feast as high as they can reach too. So tonight we get to spend the night under the stars with a full moon rising over Capitol Dome. As my brother in law Robert Eves says, "One weekend at Capitol Reef in September is better than a month any other time of the year!"

Watercolor Painting of Capitol Reef National Park by Roland Lee

Watercolor Painting of Capitol Reef National Park by Roland Lee.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thoughts on The Rockin' R at Zions Ponderosa Ranch

photo of Roland Lee cabin at Zion National Park
I had a chance to do some reflecting today on how rich our lives have been because of those who have gone before us. My nephew just called this morning and asked if he could take his family up to our cabin at Zion this weekend. There's nothing I love more than to see the cabin get used as often as possible. Our own children have so many memories of the place, that it's fun to see the Rockin' R make memories for still another generation.

My wife's parents, Ben and Jane Rogers acquired the 5-acre property back in the early 60's from an old buddy, R.W. Lewis who was developing the Zion Ponderosa Ranch at Zion. Ben picked out a choice spot in a stand of big Ponderosa Pines overlooking a nice canyon. My wife, Nellie and I were still teenagers dating at the time and living in southern California. Together we travelled with her parents to Utah and helped to build the first little one-room cabin on the property.

40 years later, with 5 married children and 15 grandchildren of our own, we can look back on many pleasant and peaceful times spent there. Because of that little chunk of land my family and I have come to know and love the canyons of Zion National Park. We have walked its trails and explored its natural beauty in all seasons. It has become a part of who we are and has shaped our feelings for the land around us. Still today, having travelled all over the world I can return to our cabin at Zion, kick back in my sky chair, and be at peace with the universe.

Roland Lee cabin at Zions Ponderosa RanchMaybe its just that I'm getting older, but I'm starting to reflect more and more on the blessings that we have enjoyed throughout our lives, due to the generosity of others. I hope that many years from now when I am long gone, that the Rockin' R cabin on the Zion Ponderosa Ranch will still be a doorway to the wonders of Zion National Park for my great grandchildren.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hiking the East Rim Trail in Zion

Jim Lee, Kayson, and Christian on the East Rim Trail in Zion
On Saturday I took my son Jim Lee and two of my gransons, Kayson and Christian, on a short hike out to the East Rim trail. Since our Rockin' R Ranch cabin is located adjacent to Zion National Park's east boundary we can easily access the East Rim trail, the Cable Mountain Trail, and the Observation Point trail. (Okay, I admit it, our cabin is in a wonderful spot.) From the top, you can easily see where a little sand wash starts to drop forming the beginning of Echo Canyon. In just about 100 yards the canyon drops from a gentle meadow to a deep gorge hundreds, then thousands of feet deep. This is a photo of Jim, Kayson, and Christian standing near the edge of Echo Canyon.


I have hiked many of the trails in Zion National Park and have done many, many watercolor paintings of Zion Canyon. you can take a look at some of the paintings I completed this past month of the Sentinel, the Altar of Sacrifice, and other images of Zion National Park. I am getting ready for a special one-man-show at the St. George Art Museum in March 2007 which will feature sketchbook drawings and finished original watercolor paintings of Zion National Park and Zion Canyon.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Zion Ponderosa Ranch

Travel sketchbook drawing of Ponderosa Pine Trees at Zion

A few sketchbook drawings done on location around our "Rockin' R" cabin on the Zions Ponderosa Ranch near Zion National Park. I have done numerous pencil drawings of the big Ponderosa Pine Trees that we love so much.
Click here to see more sketchbook drawings of Zion National Park

sketchbook drawing of Ponderosa Pines at Zion

Some R and R at the Rockin' R

Roland Lee sketchbook drwing of our cabin
This morning we're heading up to Zion's Ponderosa Ranch to spend the weekend at our Rockin' R Zion cabin. Located on the east side of Zion National Park just on the park boundary, our Zion cabin has been our haven of peace for over 30 years. We are situated on a ridge above Lemon Springs in a stand of ancient Ponderosa Pines. It is a beautiful place to relax, and I plan on spending time sitting in my sky chair, picking my Taylor guitar, and doing a little drawing in my sketchbook. I'll let you know how it turns out -- oh, and I'm not taking the computer either.

Utah Watercolor Society Award of Merit

Merit award Utah Watercolor Society, Watercolor painting by Roland Lee
I was fortunate to have two watercolor paintings juried into the Utah Watercolor Society Annual Juried show. The two transparent watercolor paintings were both of the southern Utah landscape. One painting of Ivins Reservoir near Kayenta Utah received an Award of Merit at the show which was held at the Iron Horse Gallery in Park City Utah. The second was a painting of Gunlock Reservoir overflow during the recent flooding in southern Utah.
Click to see watercolor paintings