Lee was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. From childhood, his interest in art was influenced by his close family members: his mother was an avid pencil artist while his grandfather built model cars from wood. Impressively, he did this not from a kit, but from creating his own pieces and assembling them together (this was before plastic was a common material for modelers). Although his father was not very artistic, over the years he taught Lee how to work with his hands by having him help with all house- and automobile-related projects including construction, plumbing, electrical wiring, repairs, and maintenance.
Although Lee had a deep love for art, he was hesitant about pursuing it as a career (in part due to having been diagnosed with color-blindness since the first grade). Subsequently, Lee traveled down a different professional path working as a mechanical engineer. He discovered that mechanical engineering is similar to sculpting in many aspects: instead of shaping pieces in clay or wood, he created them on the computer. Utilizing this analogy, coupled with his talent for envisioning intricate objects in three dimensions, Lee has found great success in his career.
Lee’s interest in woodcarving was first aroused as a teenager when, during a trip to the mall, he came across a woodcarving exhibition. Intrigued by their work, he approached one of the artists and struck up a conversation about her pieces. She encouraged him buy a book, a block of wood and some tools to see if he would enjoy it. He did.
“The Old Man” was was his first wood carving project from that first book he purchased. Twenty-plus years later, he is still creating sculptures in wood but now they are not from a book. They directly relate to his life and his interests.
Lee entered his first woodcarving show/contest with the pieces, “Harley Boy” and “The Epic Ride.” He entered himself in the intermediate division. “The Epic Ride” and “Harley Boy” took first and second place, respectively, in the realistic human group. Furthermore, “The Epic Ride” earned best of honors for the entire realistic category and best of show in the entire intermediate division. Not knowing what to expect when Lee first entered, naturally this came as an absolute complete surprise. In the next show Lee entered, the organizers decided to move him from the intermediate to the expert division (since he had received four ribbons at his first show). Lee entered “Surfs Up!” and won five awards for this piece: first place for realistic human group, best of realistic human group, best of realistic category, best of expert division, people’s choice, and best of show.
Lee has been carving wood in his spare time for over twenty years. He pushes himself to improve his technical skill and artistry through the ever-increasing complexity of each new piece. A self-taught artist, his only “training” has come exclusively through books and instructional videos on YouTube.
While woodcarving gives Lee the unique satisfaction of paying attention to the smallest detail and focusing with steady precision in relative isolation, his other interests afford him gratification on nearly the exact opposite end of the spectrum. An avid outdoorsman, Lee enjoys the exhilaration of riding downhill through wooded single tracks on his mountain bike, the boundless panoramic views while summiting Colorado’s many 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation), and feeling the spray of water windsurfing. And having recently reunited himself with the adrenaline rush of carving through canyon roads on a sport bike, Lee is definitely not one to shy away from getting “NarLee” (gnarly).