Cut Out the Darkness

Hello BoveyBlog readers! Happy New Year to you!

Recently, I created a cutout artwork for Panasonic’s “Cut Out the Darkness” project. It is part of their 100 Thousand Solar Lantern Project which delivers solar powered lanterns to people in regions without electricity.

My lantern is called “City Lights” and you can see the 360 views of the lantern and my profile here.


Do you know that there are over a billion people (1 in 5) on earth living without electricity?

I love this project.

Panasonic initially launched the project inviting me and ten other artists to create the solar lanterns. Now you can also upload your lantern artwork and Panasonic will produce and deliver to the people in need.

The Web site, Cut Out the Darkenss | Panasonic Global, has all the information about how to submit your artwork and instructions on using the cutout app.


Wish You a Very Happy Holidays!

As 2013 is drawing to an end, it’s time to look back and celebrate all the incredible people and events that make a difference in our lives.

To all the BoveyBlog friends, I wish you a very lovely and memorable Holiday Season!

Bovey Lee, Palm Tree Snowflake #7, 2013

Bovey Lee, Palm Tree Snowflake #7, 2013

Slide Show: From Start to Finish

It’s been a really long time since my last post and it feels great to be back!

Thanks to those of you who keep reading BoveyBlog.

This year has been totally insane and it is astonishing we are in November already. Where does the time go?

Oh, right, mine all went to cutting paper. Many people are curious how I create my work.

Here’s a slide show that offers insight into what it takes for me to make a cut paper piece. Hope you enjoy it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Creative Process Behind My Cut Paper for The New York Times Magazine

Who would have thought that my first cut paper artwork for the New York Times Magazine was a Cannabis Sativa? Since the Magazine is published weekly, there was very little time to work on the piece. Time is always a challenging issue, for my creative process is naturally slow. In addition, I already lined up my calendar for the rest of the year but pretty much had to push everything back in order to fit it into the schedule.

Despite its simplicity, a lot of preparation and work went into the cut paper leaf. As I said in the last post, what seems easy is not. Firstly, I read Bruce Barcott’s fascinating article and learned about the angle of the story. And then, the Art Director and I discussed how to represent the angle of the story all in a single cutout leaf. The color scheme and composition were then decided. After a dozen back and forth with the AD, I went about to research hundreds of images of the Cannabis leaves. Realizing there were three different types, I had to make a quick choice on which one to depict and settled on the Sativa because of its graceful shape. I also researched images of vintage botanical and scientific illustrations.

The article centered around the investment and marketing of marijuana for pharmaceutical use. On the computer, I rearranged, reshaped, and adjusted the spacing and symmetry of the leaf. The idea was to give the leaf a clinical look, almost like a specimen drawing. Before cutting it out, I did a pencil drawing based on the computer image to show the AD. After approval, I then began the hand cutting process until it was completed. The finished artwork was shipped to a photographer in New York for the post production work.

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa, pencil on paper, for The New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa, pencil on paper, sketch for The New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

Given the photographer who has never taken pictures of my work before, he did a good job for white-on-white is very difficult to do well, especially because the leaf has very delicate, thin lines.

I want to thank The New York Times for inviting me to collaborate on this interesting project.

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa cut paper artwork for the New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

Bovey Lee, Cannabis Sativa cut paper artwork for the New York Times Magazine, June 30 issue, 2013

What I Have Learned from Cut Paper

  1. Slowness is underrated in the world of rush and hurry.
  2. On average, it takes about 4-8 times longer to cut something out compared to drawing it.
  3. Other people want me to cut faster, a lot faster.
  4. Patience pays off.
  5. Don’t put off making your own work to accommodate others.
  6. Craftsmanship is valuable.
  7. Let the artist block crumble on its own. It will.
  8. Let your work surprise you.
  9. Knowing how to use the computer helps a lot, just don’t let it replace your hands.
  10. I can’t work when other people’s in the room.
  11. Solitude is a necessity.
  12. More is more.
  13. It’s all in the details.
  14. Put in the hours, it’s the only way.
  15. What seems easy is often not.
Bovey Lee, What it takes to cut out a line, June 2013

Bovey Lee, What it takes to cut out a line, June 2013

5 Tips for Paper Cutting

I originally wrote these five tips for an author who asked what techniques that were unique to my practice in cut paper. So if you cut paper like I do, i.e., with a template, these few pointers might help you:

1.  To align my cutout template with the rice paper, I use staples on the top two corners for registration and paperweights to keep the template from shifting while cutting.

2.  I make sure a cut paper piece in progress is structurally sound by starting in the center and working out to the edges.

3.  For large pieces, it is best that you do not lift the cut paper before it is complete and to also cover any cut section with a blank sheet of paper when resting your hand or arm upon it to cut other areas. These precautions protect the delicate areas.

4.  When doing intricate cutting, it helps to lift your knife to the very tip of the blade at the end of a line to prevent over cutting.

5.  Instead of blowing or shaking stray pieces from a cut paper piece, I use a soft sable brush.


5-year Anniversary – A Mini Retrospective

I began my full-time career as a cut paper artist five years ago (the clock started with my first solo exhibition as a represented gallery artist, although I started making cut paper in summer of 2005). Looking back at the works that I have created, there are several pieces that I consider to be door openers.

“Hanging Gown” is the first piece I used the chain link fence motif. Later, I expanded the idea to create series of works including the “Little Crimes,” “Falling Water,” “Memory Windows,” and “The Butterfly Gown.”

Hanging Gown

Hanging Gown, rice paper cutout, 7×14, 2006

“Atomic Jellyfish” is the first large cut paper with an elevated level of intricacy that I created in late 2007. Although taking as long as four months to complete, it allowed me to push the technical and conceptual limits of cut paper. “Atomic Jellyfish” inspired works that came soon after that dealt with both man-made and natural powers.

"Atomic Jellyfish"

Bovey Lee, Rice paper cutout, 2007

“Beach Ball Blast” is significant as it was the first piece that I focused on environmental issues.

Beach Ball Blast

“Beach Ball Blast,” rice paper cutout, 2009

“Falling Water I–V” is the first series that I created as an installation. Coming from a painting background, I was curious to create a painterly effect using cut paper.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

“Sewing Highways” brought back the narrative-based expressions in my work. I created it after coming back from Beijing in 2010 after visiting the capital of China twenty years prior. The changes in Beijing’s landscape and people’s lives were staggering and overwhelming. It inspired me to create works on the effects of industrialization and urbanization.

Sewing Highways, cut rice paper on silk, 2011

Sewing Highways, cut rice paper on silk, 2011

“Lifting Clouds” is a recent work that explores how we use super machines and high technologies to claim ownership and alter/shape nature to our liking. I developed the concept to create many works in similar vein, such as “Trimming Feathers,” “Painting Corals,” and “Welding Branches.”

Bovey Lee, "Lifting Clouds", 2012

Bovey Lee, “Lifting Clouds”, 2012

“Vase I” modernizes traditional Chinese vases that always depict nature in purity and untouched by humanity. The fact is, there is literally no place on earth that human beings have not interrupted in some way.

Bovey Lee, "Vase I", 2012

Bovey Lee, “Vase I”, 2012