Gallery Opening Recap, Patagonia Essay

Last weekend I was in Bozeman, Montana for the opening night of my show titled “Infinite Landscape” at Old Main Gallery. The paintings will be on view until December 30th 2017. It was an incredible feeling to see all my work framed and hung on a gallery wall, and I sold four paintings on the opening day! To read more about my work on the American Prairie Reserve, scroll back two posts on this blog, or you can read my essay that was recently published on Patagonia’s blog where I discuss the historical context of landscape painting and wilderness conservation and how I was inspired to paint in this part of Montana.

 

 

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Painting Bears Ears National Monument

On my way to Bozeman for my show opening at Old Main Gallery last weekend, I spent four days painting in Bears Ears National Monument, near the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. I was specifically in Indian Creek Canyon, an iconic rock climbing destination that is also home to the Dugout Ranch and Canyonlands Research Center, owned by the Nature Conservancy. Below are the paintings that came out of this short trip. I’m excited to use some of these as inspiration for larger paintings in the studio this winter! Six of these small paintings have sold already, but I have seven available for sale, so if you’re interested in getting one, send me a message at emlee7@gmail.com

Thanks!

 

Save the Date: Gallery Show Nov. 4th!

My collection of prairie paintings will be in an exhibit at Old Main Gallery in Bozeman, Montana alongside artwork by Monte Dolack and Carol Guzman. A portion of all proceeds will go to benefit the American Prairie Reserve. Opening reception is from 5-7 PM November 4th and will be on view for one month.

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Over the past two years, I’ve made three different trips to study and paint on the American Prairie Reserve (APR) in Montana’s northern great plains region. I began this project in 2015 when I was living in New York City and looking for a meaningful story that combined my interests in wilderness conservation, outdoor adventure, and plein-air painting. Located south of Saskatchewan and north of the Missouri River, this zone of eastern Montana has seen very little human impact which makes it feel eerily removed from time. At nearly 3.5 million acres, it is one of only four large-scale intact prairie ecosystems in the world – ninety percent of the ground has never been plowed. The APR is a privately funded conservation organization that is purchasing privately owned land when it comes on the market and then merging it with with leased government parcels. The reserve is currently a patchwork of parcels totaling almost 400,000 acres, and each year it continues to grow.

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When complete, the APR will be the largest protected landscape in the continental U.S. and home to all the native animals that once roamed the Great Plains. It will provide visitors an unparalleled opportunity to experience the history and heritage of this landscape in all it’s wild, hostile beauty, and it will be proof of nature’s inherent ability to  re-establish balance when given the chance. At a time when so many of our wild places are under threat, the story of the APR offers hope and inspiration for us to keep fighting for wilderness conservation.

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Lee_Emilie_prairieprimrose1_oillinen_8x6_2015All of the paintings in my collection were made without the use of photographs, instead I relied on direct observation from life, or memory in the studio. These paintings represent two years of exploration and research, celebrating the beauty I found on the prairie, from the fleeting gumbo primrose to the infinite horizons.

 

Lately I’ve done a lot of writing to share my story and promote this show, so if you’re curious, below are all the links where I’ve written about this project and what it has meant to me!

 

November 2017, online: Essay for Patagonia’s Blog “The Cleanest Line”

September 2017, online: Interview with Wylder Goods

September 2017, online: New Wave Art Palettes Interview

September 2017, online: She Explores: Painting the American Prairie Reserve

May 26 2015:   Online Publication: National Geographic Explorer’s blog

May 15 2015:   Online Publication: Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation Landmark Blog

April 29 2015: Online Publication: Grand Central Atelier Blog

April 20 2015: Online Publication Telluride Mountainfilm Blog

April 16 2015:  Print Publication: RISD XYZ Alumni Magazine

My own blog posts from my first trip to the Prairie:

week#1 week#2 week#3 Week#4  week#5

 

 

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Painting My Way Across America

Wow, it’s been a whole year since I updated my blog! I’ve found it so much easier to share my news on a daily basis through Instagram, but for this blog’s record here is my latest: I’ve just moved to California!  In April I sold and gave away almost all my belongings and moved into my Honda Element with my dog Honeycrisp fora  two month road trip, camping and painting my way across the country. I left Vermont on May 7th and began an adventure I’ve been dreaming of since my early 20’s. To say the least, this trip has felt like a momentous achievement for me! After almost eight years in New York City, I moved home to Vermont in 2015 where I spent a year and a half re-evaluating my life. It felt so good to be out of the city, but I was shell-shocked from the intensity of my experience there and it took some time for me get in touch with my intuition and allow myself to follow my heart again. During my year in Vermont I experimented with a lot of different ways to use my skills – teaching workshops, working as an adjunct professor at Champlain College, teaching weekly classes, painting commissions, and selling gallery work. I realized that what truly makes my heart sing is plein-air painting and spending time outside on long trail runs in the mountains, climbing, and practicing yoga. Once this became clear to me, I started making some changes in my life so I could spend more time doing the things I love. I moved to Santa Barbara, CA to be with my boyfriend Kristo and when I decided to make this move, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to indulge my fantasy of doing nothing but plein air painting, camping, and climbing for two months as I drove across the country. In the first month I made twenty seven paintings and posted them for sale in my online store. Within four hours, almost all of them sold! Now it’s been two months and I have another twenty paintings to sell, so if you are interested in being the first to know when my next sale begins, Sign up for my newsletter.

The success of my last sale was a huge affirmation that I am doing the right thing by following my heart and doing what I love. I’m feeling so grateful for all the things that bring me so much joy, and that I’ve found a way to fill my life with them! Now that I’m in Santa Barbara, I’m getting settled in, looking for a new studio space, and spending plenty of time painting at the beach and in the mountains. Life is good and I’m thrilled to keep up the momentum! Stay tuned (instagram or my newsletter are the best ways to stay in touch with me!) for future workshops, more paintings for sale, and stories from all the new places where I’ll be exploring and painting on the west coast!

Cross-Country Road Trip Painting Collection

Farm-to-Canvas Workshop Report

Last weekend’s inaugural farm-to-canvas plein air painting workshop at Golden Well Farm and Apiaries was a huge success! I had eight students, three who stayed in B&B rooms at the farmhouse (and one who opted for the $20/night camping option) these folks were treated to a beautiful farm-to-table breakfast each morning while the rest of us convened at 8 AM for a full morning of painting. While the weather was a little wet, we managed to work around the rain and get some good painting time in. For lunch we sat down to a three course meal made with ingredients picked that day on the farm or sourced from nearby dairy and meat producers. A special treat was the honey kombucha, and honey caramel sauce sourced from Golden Well’s own bees!

I am so grateful to our hosts Nicole and Ryan for their hospitality, generosity, great cooking, and for sharing their home with us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is the farm I grew up and it’s been the most wonderful turn of events for me to feel welcomed back to the farm by it’s current residents. While our group was quietly painting, we were able to witness the rhythm of life and work on the farm, which involves several employees, visiting interns, and  Miela, Nicole and Ryan’s 3-year old daughter who was a constant source of entertainment for all of us. We were also treated to an impromptu yoga class taught by Jennifer Parmelee after painting one day, and I am now convinced this will be an integral part of my next workshop. As any artist knows, the long hours focused in front of your work can leave you feeling stiff, emotionally drained, and tired. The yoga session was just what we needed to loosen up and re-set our energy with a positive vibe. After this I am excited to plan future painting workshops that intentionally combine yoga and mindfulness practices.

Our workshop also coincided with some fun local events – Friday night we went to Lincoln Peak Vineyards a mile down the road for picnic party with a live band and 300 people in attendance! Saturday night we strolled through downtown Middlebury and went out to dinner together, and Sunday night ended with a community pizza night on the farm with live music, brick-oven pizzas, rustic hay bale seating, and desserts made by neighboring farmer V Smiley Preserves. Currently we are looking at some dates in September for the next workshop/retreat at this location! Scroll through these pictures for more detailed account of our weekend on the farm. Thank you to all the wonderful students who took the time to travel up to Vermont and spend the weekend with us!

 

Just an Update!

Spring came and went and now it is summer. I have been busy painting, teaching, and thanking my lucky stars each day that I am living in Vermont. I’ll share a quick update on what I’ve been up to and get back to it! I have an open studio event tomorrow night from 5-8 if you want to come see the latest paintings in person.   – Emilie


JUNE 24,25,26 FIGURE DRAWING WORKSHOP, BURLINGTON, VT, $325

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Morning session: 9 -12, Afternoon session: 1-4

This weekend intensive will be an introduction to academic figure drawing methods, emphasizing an intuitive approach that combines expressive drawing and comparative measurements to achieve accurate proportions and anatomy while expressing the gesture and flow of the  pose. Some warm-up exercises from the 19th century Charles Bargue drawing course and lessons in anatomy will be included. The studio is furnished with a model stand and controlled lighting. There is only room for 5 students in this class, so you will be sure to get plenty of hands-on instruction! SIGNUPHERE


JULY 8,9,10 FARM TO CANVAS LANDSCAPE PAINTING WORKSHOP,  $400

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Three days of instructed landscape painting and drawing on a 100 acre historic Vermont farm. Instruction will emphasize a logical approach to planning and executing a successful piece while considering the unique challenges of working outside. This will be a supportive environment for beginners and experienced artists alike with plenty of one-on-one instruction tailored to your goals. Swimming on the property and chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided each day! (Lodging available on the farm at extra cost). New Haven, VT. MORE INFO HERE


*Paintings in group shows this month: FOFA Art’s Alive Show at 1 Main St. Landing, Burlington, VT  June 3-27, and SEABA 404 Pine Street, Burlington, VT


* ONGOING: paintings for sale at Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury VT


Now for some pics from all the fun things I’ve been up to:

MARCH: An energizing trip to the 4-corners region to work with an inspiring crew of artists while being filmed and interviewed for Convergence Film, a project by 3 Strings Productions. Film release to be announced, so stay tuned!

APRIL: It was still winter up here. So we did some skiing and worked in the studio:

MAY: SPRING!!!! Painting outside, lots of hiking, teaching plain-air class along the lake, loving life!

 

Farm to Canvas Plein Air Painting Workshop

The location for this workshop is very special to me because this was my childhood home! Our family enjoyed ten blissful years on this idyllic farm, and it is an absolute dream come true that the current owners are welcoming me back to their property to teach a workshop. Golden Well Farm and Apiaries will be hosting us and providing a chef catered farm-to-table lunch each day, featuring food grown here on this property. Make sure to bring your swimsuit because there is a beautiful river running right across the front yard!

Sign up here

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Locals all know of the “Old Nash Farm” and it’s rich history as a working farm that has nurtured generations of different families who lived here. It’s newest incarnation as Golden Well Farm and Apiaries promises that the legacy of wholesome farm family fun will continue! The best part is that we can all take part through the community minded events they are offering, including a CSA, a summer camp, and yoga classes.

IMG_4467In this workshop I will be teaching a traditional approach to landscape painting as it was taught to me by my mentors at the Hudson River Fellowship. I will be referencing the methods and techniques of 19th century landscape painters. Beginners and experienced painters alike are welcome, and I will be tailoring instruction to meet each individual’s goals and needs. Topics I will address are:

  • how to set yourself up for success given the specific challenges of painting outdoors (changing light, weather, and time limitations)
  • how to choose a compelling subject and composition
  • how to create an underpainting that will be a strong foundation for your work
  • using pencil sketches and written notes to aid in developing your work back in the studio
  • how to use color, atmosphere, and line quality to create a sense of depth
  • how to capture a fleeting moment in a tiny sketch and later develop that idea in the studio without using photographs
  • tips for staying comfortable and happy while working outdoors!

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WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

Friday: 

8:00 –  Meet at the farmIMG_2193

8:30 – Introduction and demonstration of how to begin a painting, choosing a subject, creating thumbnail sketches, working out a composition, and making an underpainting.

10:00 – Students will take time to choose a subject and start their own thumbnail sketches

12:30 – Chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided by Golden Well Farm and Apiaries

1:30 – Students will continue working on their paintings while receiving individual instruction throughout the afternoon. 

3:00 – end of class, swimming in the river! Students are free to continue working on their own.

Saturday:

8:00 – Meet at the farm

8:30 – Demonstration of full color painting focusing on foreground objects.

10:00 Students choose a new subject to paint for this day

12:30 – Chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided by Golden Well Farm and Apiaries

1:30 – Students will continue working on their paintings while receiving individual instruction throughout the afternoon. 

3:00 – end of class, swimming in the river! Students are free to continue working on their own.

Sunday:

8:00 – Meet at the farm

8:30 – Demonstration of full color painting focusing on a long-view scene with skies and distance

10:00 – Students choose a new subject to paint for this day

12:30 – Chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided by Golden Well Farm and Apiaries

1:30 – Students will continue working on their paintings while receiving individual instruction throughout the afternoon. 

3:00 – end of class, swimming in the river! Students are free to continue working on theirIMG_2698.jpg own.

LOGISTICS

When:  July 8,9 & 10. 8 AM – 3 PM

Where: Golden Well Farm and Apiaries, 1089 River Road, New Haven, VT

Cost: $450 per person. Includes 3 chef catered lunches. Early bird special: $400 before May 1st.

Lodging: Rent a room on the farm through Airbnb (choose from room one, room two, or room three). OR pitch a tent in the field for $20/night (includes breakfast and facilities). Other local options can be found in Middlebury.

Sign Up: and pay online here, or email me if you have questions: emlee7@gmail.com. I will send a packing list for gear and materials list to confirmed students.

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March & April Class Schedule

I started teaching at my new studio in Burlington’s South End Arts District two months ago and it’s been so much fun to feel the momentum pick up as more people join the classes. I love being able to share my space with other artists and I am excited to continue! Class size is limited to 5 students at one time, allowing me to work one-on-one with each student to meet their needs. In May I will start offering outdoor painting classes along Burlington’s waterfront where we have some incredible views across Lake Champlain. Stay tuned, spring is around the corner!

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

IMG_8519I believe that drawing and painting are skills that can be learned through a logical approach and consistent practice. The foundation of good painting is strong drawing, and in my teaching I emphasize observation from life to achieve accurate representation of form and structure. By limiting variables such as color, light, and movement in a controlled studio environment, students can develop confidence in their drawing skills before progressing to more complex subjects, materials, and working conditions. This approach is inspired by the academic curriculum followed by many of the western art tradition’s great masters. Class size is limited to five students to ensure plenty of time for individual instruction and instructor demonstrations.

DRAWING 101: CAST DRAWING AND BARGUE COPIES.

Choose between Mondays & Thursdays 5:30-8:30 PM or Thursdays 9:00 AM – Noon. 

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This is the traditional place to begin with your classical art education. New students will start with exercises from the late 19th century Bargue-Gerome drawing course and then progress to drawing from white plaster casts of Michelangelo’s David (eye, ear, nose, mouth.) We will practice the block-in method, comparative measuring, and form modeling while gaining an understanding of optical illusions and value structure. Because the casts are white, inanimate, and set under stable light conditions, we eliminate many of the dynamic challenges of live figure drawing. Working with the casts will strengthen your observational skills and give you the tools to improve your drawing and painting in all other applications.

New student trial offer: one class for $30, no commitment. To continue, I ask that you commit to at least 4 sessions.

COPYING THE MASTERS: INTRO TO LANDSCAPE PAINTING. SATURDAYS, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM until May 1st, then we will be painting outside during this time slot! 

IMG_2016In this class, we will be copying master landscape paintings by artists such as Sanford Gifford, Frederick Church, and Ivan Shishkin. Master copies are a great way to learn what makes a successful painting – strong composition, organized value structure, color palette, and expressive brushwork can all be considered while working closely with the works of these iconic landscape painters. This class is good for inexperienced painters and experts alike. If you are a beginner, you will learn a method for developing a painting using an underpainting, palette organization, paint handling, and materials. We may also do some color and value mixing exercises as needed. Again, because of small class size, I am able to tailor this class to the needs of each student.

New student trial offer: first class for $30, no commitment. To continue, I ask that you commit to at least 4 sessions.

SPECIAL ONE DAY WORKSHOP: MAKE YOUR OWN PANELS AND SUPPORTS. MARCH 19 1:30-5 PM 

20x16In this one day workshop I will demonstrate some of the methods and materials I use to create supports for painting and drawing. Learn how to:

-Build your own archival painting panels out of Dibond or Birch, with raw linen, pre-primed linen, or no linen and just gesso.

– Make cradles for larger panels

– Stretch and prime a gallery-wrapped linen canvas

– Make your own toned paper for drawing and water based media using a variety of materials: graphite powder, shellac, PVA size, ink, and hand made watercolor

– Make your own toned paper for painting – a very economical option for painting supports!

Each student will go home with a 6″x9″ dibond panel and a piece of toned drawing paper to experiment with.

Cost: $45

EXTENDED POSE PORTRAIT DRAWING, TUESDAYS 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM March 22 – April 26 

IMG_4321In this class, a live model will hold the same pose for three sessions (that’s 9 hours!) We just finished the first three sessions of this class, and I am so impressed with how far these students were able to take their drawings given the extended pose. This is a rare opportunity since most life drawing classes focus on the quick gesture drawings or at most 20-30 minute poses. In this class you will learn how to develop a portrait drawing using the block-in method, comparative measurements, and form modeling. Anatomy, abstract shape-finding, optical illusions, and value structure will be discussed. Painting will also be introduced to those who feel ready. This class is fine for beginners too!

New student trial offer: one class for $30, no commitment. $250 for 6 week session.

To sign up for a class please email me: emlee7@gmail.com

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New Classes in Vermont

In the end of October, I moved to Burlington Vermont, an hour north of my home town. I’ve spent the past seventeen years traveling and living all over the country, seven of them in New York City. In the end, there’s no place like home and I am thrilled that I finally feel ready to put roots down in the community where I grew up. I have a nice big studio in Burlington’s vibrant South End Arts District at the Brickworks space on Pine Street. Starting this Saturday, I’ll be teaching two new classes! I am excited to grow my teaching practice and offer some plein-air workshops in the warmer months, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, here are two good classes to get us through the cold winter:

Intro to Landscape Painting: COPYING THE MASTERS. Jan 2-20, Saturdays, 9:30AM-12:30PM $250

 

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Example of a master copy (on the right) of an Ivan Shishkin Painting. 

In each session, artists will choose from a selection of master paintings to copy in grisaille, limited palette, or full color. This is an ideal workshop for those who have little or no experience painting outdoors. Without the added challenge of changing light conditions, inclement weather, and location access, we will be able to focus on developing a logical approach to landscape painting in a controlled environment that can later be applied to actual plein-air painting.

By copying existing paintings, we will learn how a successful painting has been composed and how to approach complex subjects such as foliage, moving water, forest interiors, and clouds. We will focus on identifying value hierarchy while looking for elements of design and composition. Besides being an extremely helpful way to prepare the artist to work outdoors, this exercise will train your eye to be more efficient at recognizing values independently from their color, and giving you more control and organization on your palette.  Think of this as “pre-season training” for landscape painting! When spring arrives, we will be ready to take what we’ve learned from the masters and apply it to the living landscape.

Artists will complete one copy in each studio session. Among the artists we will be focusing on are Ivan Shishkin, Frederick Church, Sanford Gifford, William Trost Richards, and Albert Bierstadt. Artists will be welcome to add to this list or bring in their own ideas for master copies.

EXTENDED POSE PORTRAIT DRAWING, Tues/Thurs 5:30-8:30 PM Jan 5 – 21 $230

During this six-session class, students will spend three sessions on each portrait drawing. Working from a live model, students will have generous time to develop their drawing from a loose block-in using a comparative measurement technique to a fully rendered portrait. Issues of proportion, anatomy, form, and structure will be addressed through individual critiques and instructor demonstrations. This class will be offered again in February with the option to paint in oils.

All classes are held at the Brickworks Art Studios, 266 Pine Street, across the street from Conant Lighting and behind New England Flooring and Tapna Yoga.


 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Here are some pics from my first two months up here: 

Commissions, Residencies, and Good Fishing

As I write this, I am waking up on my first day at the Jentel residency in Banner, WY. I’m here for a month to work on one of my six foot wide prairie paintings, and I’m looking forward to turning off my phone, unplugging from the internet, and taking a digital detox while I focus on this amazing opportunity to paint with no distractions. Before I go, I wanted to post a quick update and share my work from the past month. I’ll post again at the end of the month before I go to the American Prairie Reserve for a week of plein air painting and research in September.

APPLETON FARMS COMMISSION, IPSWICH, MASSACHUSETTS

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This is the final painting for the Appleton Farms commission I wrote about in several of my earlier posts. The painting is 18″x11″

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This is a drawing I did on location at the farms, which provided all the detailed information I needed to complete the commission.

PLUM ISLAND COMMISSION, NEWBURYPORT, MASSACHUSETTS

I spent three days on Plum Island making studies for a commission. This is a hidden gem on the North Shore of Boston. Thirteen miles of protected sand dunes, beaches, forest, and marshes provide an important habitat for many species of migratory birds and other wildlife. There are also public beaches for surfing, swimming, and fishing. The painting I am working on depicts a sand dune in the foreground of the view from my client’s house. Below are three of the studies I made while researching different options for the commission idea. We settled on the sand dune in the end.

Plein air study for commission on Plum Island

Plein air study for commission on Plum Island

plein air study on Plum Island

plein air study on Plum Island

plein air study on Plum Island

plein air study on Plum Island

HUDSON RIVER FELLOWSHIP, WHITE MOUNTAINS, NEW HAMPSHIRE

After visiting Plum Island and delivering the Appleton Farm’s commission in Ipswich, I drove north to drop in on the Hudson River Fellowship. For five years in a row, I participated in this month-long painting residency, and for three years following that, I’ve tried to drop in for a few days. During these summers, I really honed my landscape painting technique, made new friends, and felt challenged by the motivated and skilled artists that this fellowship brings together. This summer, I could only manage one day, but I was grateful for that.

during one day with the Hudson River Fellowship

Painting at Jackson Falls was pure bliss during one day with the Hudson River Fellowship. There’s nothing like taking a break from painting to jump in the cold water and pick wild blueberries!

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It was a treat to paint with my friends Leeana Chipana and Mary Jane Ward atop Cathedral Ledge.

Cathedral Ledge, NH

I spent many years obsessed with climbing this impressive granite cliff in North Conway. When I was 15 I climbed my first multi-pitch route here, and afterwards made a series of wood-block prints inspired by the experience. I always think of this place as one of the important creative forces in my life.

RABBIT ISLAND, LAKE SUPERIOR, UPPER PENINSULA MICHIGAN

On July 20th I went to Rabbit Island, an artist residency in Michigan’s U.P. Each year, 3-5 artists are selected to spend several weeks creating work on the 90 acre island, which is located in Lake Superior, 4.5 miles from the mainland Keweenaw Peninsula. (The deadline for 2016 applications is August 26th, by the way!) Artists live in a simple lean-to structure, cook over a coleman stove or a campfire, and create work in the outdoors. There is no running water or electricity. While I was there, I overlapped for one or more days with three of the artists – Beau Carey, a painter from New Mexico, Noam Enbar, a musican from Tel Aviv, and Josephina Munoz, an installation artist from Chile. We also did a lot of fishing, painting, projects around camp, and spent time exploring the mainland.

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I was thrilled that Beau Carey took the time to pose for me on the last day of his residency.

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On this day, I was so excited because after 8 days of hot sun and no wind, we finally got a bit of a storm!

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This is one of my favorite spots to hang out and paint along the shore. Photo by Ports Bishop.

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I love the challenge of painting these waves and the striking transparency of Lake Superior’s water.

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Gouache and graphite on watercolor paper toned with graphite powder and shellac.

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Amit Goldstein posed for me while she meditated in the shade. Painting with a live model is a form of shared meditation, and this morning was so soothing, listening to the water lap against the rocks and trying to interpret the dappled light.

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I knew that after Rabbit Island, I wouldn’t have time to work on commissions until November, so I brought one with me. I spent a few days working on it in the outdoors setting on the island, and antother 5 days working on it in a house on the mainland.

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A detail from a finished section of the Plum Island commission. I will finish this in November, so stay tuned!

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Rob and I spent a day orienting artist Josephina Munoz before leaving her alone for three weeks of total isolation.

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Catching Lake Trout out by the Huron Islands,  at some points during this trip the water was 800 feet deep!