Male artist in his studio
Roland Lee in his studio, photo by Brian Passey
Filming an artist painting in Zion
Filming for PBS documentary in Zion

 How did you get started and then develop your career?

Roland Lee: I have always been an artist since childhood. My elementary school teachers recognized my talent and gave me real paper and crayons at school. At home I would turn brown grocery bags inside out and draw on the inside of them. I had a high school art teacher when I was a senior who really influenced me to pursue illustration and design in college. I studied art at Brigham Young University and had some great instructors.

After getting my art degree I worked as a designer/illustrator for advertising agencies in Los Angeles before moving with my young wife and son to Utah, near Zion National Park. My landscape paintings are centered on that theme, and over 2,000 of my paintings are in museum, university, corporate and private collections to date. I feel truly blessed.

How do you describe success?

My success in art has come naturally as a result of focusing on what is most important in life. I try to center my life on Jesus Christ and my family, first and foremost, and share my talents and resources freely with others. After that, everything else seems to fall into place. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend the past 50 years working in the art field, and express my love to my wife, family, and the many artists and collectors who have blessed and supported me.

How do you find inspiration?

I am fortunate to have a mountain cabin on the east border of Zion National Park where we spend a lot of time. I have also been artist in residence at Bryce Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks and have painted throughout the world. My sketchbook and paints go with me everywhere. My inspiration comes from watching light and shadow dramatize the shapes of everything I see in nature. I find painting subjects everywhere.

What is the best thing about being an artist?

Since I make a comfortable living doing what I love, I have never dreaded a single day of work. Time spent in my downtown studio is a joy. I never tire of painting and look forward to each morning. Getting to know my art collectors personally has been a wonderful part of my work and, of course, traveling widely has expanded my understanding of other cultures.

Who do you collect?

I have a massive personal art collection including hundreds of paintings, bronze sculptures, pottery, weavings and glass. I always try to purchase pieces from every art show I attend. I am happy to trade with other artists but purchasing from them helps to keep the “art carousel” going around. Recent acquisitions include: Michael Malm, Ron Rencher, Kate Starling, Josh Clare, Julie Rogers, John Cogan, Bill Cramer, Jim Wilcox, Ian Ramsey, Annette Everett and Kimball Geisler.

Watercolor painting of a redrocks arch in Zion
Roland Lee, “East Zion Arch,” 10 x 14 in., watercolor
Watercolor painting of birds on a telephone wire over old wooden barns
Roland Lee, “Party Line,” 10 x 14 in., watercolor
Watercolor painting of a sunlit ridge of red rocks
Roland Lee, “Sunlit Ridge,” 10 x 14 in., watercolor
Watercolor painting of zion canyon
Roland Lee, “Zion Canyon Reflections,” 22 x 30 in., watercolor

To see more of Roland’s work, visit:


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