My studio is my place to combine plein air and reference on larger works.

How do you find inspiration?
Lee MacLeod: As a landscape painter who gravitates to painting clouds, I live in the perfect place to find inspiration. New Mexico has wonderful and dramatic skies as storms move through, and I have a lot of opportunity to observe them. I am quite enamored with how the sky vaults and how the temperature of clouds varies as they recede. My plein air sketches have been invaluable to me for color. The camera, which I do use to record dramatic shapes, rarely gives me the color information that I need. Having painted many sky paintings, I have also grown familiar with cloud colors and often rely on pencil sketches of the cloud shapes and my familiarity with sky color to create more finished paintings done in the field. However, having said that, I am amazed how often I get thrown a curve ball and the sky does something totally unexpected. Those are exciting moments and one of the reasons to be outside observing and painting from life.

To see more of Lee’s work, visit:

oil painting of illuminating clouds with blue sky
Lee MacLeod, “Reach For The Sky,” oil, 11 x 14 in., 2022
oil painting of setting sun over the desert with oval cloud shapes
Lee MacLeod, “Long Shadows, oil, 8 x 16 in., 2022


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