Dee McBrien-Lee explores the daring landscapes of inner abstraction and the Western United States through her paintings and mixed media works.
Relying on a blend of Pacific Northwest wilderness photographs and subjective interpretation, Dee produces painted pieces that capture the feeling of a place or creature. She veers away from representation to find the challenging interior core of an artwork.
Dee also works with the emotional power of color. She’s chosen more upbeat, cheerful tones as of late to “use color as a positive influence” in a struggling world. She leans toward acrylics because of their crisp color work, but she’s been known to incorporate oil pastels, pencil, and fiber, as well.
Her process for a piece can take anywhere from days to months. She diligently attends to her studio artwork, showing up to see what the work needs each day.
Dee has been immersed full-time in art since the mid-2000’s. However, she has painted since she can remember, notably during summer escapes to upstate New York in her youth. She found that she liked the Upstate medley of culture and countryside, so Dee attended SUNY New Paltz for her undergraduate degree. Her major was Psychology, and her minors included Fine Arts and Women’s Studies.
Dee spent the first part of her career following a love of the outdoors. This drew her out West, where she worked in tourism, sales, and marketing at ski resorts in Colorado, Utah, and California.
When she landed in Bend, OR, she met her inner artist again. At first, she was magnetized to painting workshops with Robert Burridge and Karen Rosasco. She describes her progression through these lessons as “Gradually breaking down what I had been doing.”
Dee felt challenged by her instructors to enter the world of abstract painting. It’s still what draws her back to the canvas each day. She recommends the immersive workshop experience to anyone interested in art: “It’s just the best experience on earth… Doing it for a good, long time consistently, day after day after day.”
Eventually, she met other artists with whom she founded and co-owned Red Chair Gallery for nearly a decade. During her time as a gallery owner and manager, Dee absorbed much knowledge about art curation and the ebb and flow of the gallery world.
Today, Dee enjoys a more relaxed role as a participating artist rather than gallery owner – she’s focused solely on her artwork now. When she’s not in the studio (which is the majority of days per week), you can find her cross-country skiing around Mt. Bachelor and the Cascades, kayaking and hiking along the Deschutes River, and occasionally camping among the pine, juniper, and sagebrush of Central Oregon.