As a child on Christmas morning, the gift I always hoped for most was art supplies. Pencils, paints, clay—any device or material I could use to produce something from my imagination.
Both of my parents were artists, so I grew up in an extremely creative environment—watching my parents create all kinds of things—and being encouraged to do the same. Some of my best childhood memories are of times spent with my family, sketching boats along the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck, Michigan. It was normal in our house to see my mom working on copper enameling in the kitchen or my dad doing an oil painting in the garage. And that would be just a couple of the myriad of artforms in which they dabbled.
Throughout my life, I have loved drawing, painting, sculpting, designing clothes, fashion accessories, jewelry and home furnishings. In my early twenties, I produced decorative accessories made from plaster. I made the molds of my own sculptures and wall hangings, did the casting and applied the finishes. After selling that business, in my late twenties I became deeply involved in silkscreening. I studied the art, produced my own designs and made my own screens—many of them. The printing was done in my garage and I produced a line of scarves, handbags, totebags and other accessory items from my own designs. One of the highlights of that era was traveling to Israel and entering an elevator in the hotel, where I observed a woman wearing a scarf I had designed and printed with my own hands.
After studying photography, film and video production in my early thirties, I entered a whole new world of creativity. Later on, with the advancements in digital photography and large format printing, I was inspired to help my oldest daughter produce a fairly extensive collection of artwork that enabled her to raise funds to go on the mission field. I assisted her on the production of seventeen large format pieces of custom artwork that we sold and installed in a new youth center. We collaborated on twenty-two more pieces of the coordinated collection we created and sold them to an engineering firm. Those pieces were based on botanicals, architecture, landscape and abstract concepts. The artwork was installed throughout their new office facilities and gave a cohesiveness to the space. A number of other pieces were placed on display in area businesses and restaurants and sold to individuals.
In 2016, I became associated with NonStop Staging as an image development specialist. In the course of producing photography and media to enhance their internet presence, I was presented with the opportunity to produce three panels of large format custom art for a wonderful property they staged on Anna Maria Island.
The elevated waterfront home was listed at over three million dollars, but unfortunately, the water was not very visible on first impression. What this residence needed was a large, tasteful impact statement that underlined the fact that it was indeed located on the island waters.
With that in mind, I set out on a mission to capture a nearby local scene that would portray the island and waterfront theme this home called for. I was drawn to a setting that captivates everyone who knows the north end of the island, the Anna Maria City Pier.
My heart was beating a little faster than usual as I squinted at the distant pier in my camera view finder, my big lens framed it lavishly with turquoise water and a generous border of bold sea grapes boasting splashes of lime, orange and mango colors—contrasted with intense black shadows.
After settling on the most desirable image, I faced many hours of photo editing and enhancement on the computer. When the digital files were printed and mounted on panels that covered an area ten feet wide by six and a half feet tall, I set about applying hand embellishments with gold and silver leaf and other subtle touches with mixed media.
It’s impossible to describe the emotion that goes into creating a custom image such as this and then having the privilege of observing the impression it creates in the room for which it was particularly designed.
Original art is one thing. Large format custom art is quite another.
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Unlike most artists, painter Lee often sells her work to temporary decorate homes.