Posts in Category: acrylic paintings

The Battle of Creative Courage

Dear Creative Heart,

This is the time of year that I am spending hours in the studio fighting the battle of creative courage. It is the time of year when all the time spent dreaming and reflecting about what I will be creating in 2017 starts to unfold.

When the sun is shining and light is pouring through the windows of my upstairs sunroom studio, it helps me to find the inspiration to put the brush to canvas.

You can also find me this time of the year in my basement studio. This is a much bigger space so I have room for canvases in various stages from beginning to end. Some are drying from a layer of gesso which is the very first layer I apply to canvas. Some canvases have just had the clear line work laid down, and some have reached the finishing stages-ready for the sides to be painted and the multiple protective layers of isolation coat and varnish to be applied. 

So many pieces are in progress right now…but still I work from this place of not knowing. It is in this place of not knowing where the battle of creative courage intensifies on an hourly and daily basis.

This is the place where I have to remind myself time and again that listening to what is in my heart is the way to taking the next step.

This is the place where I am deeply grateful that I have to opportunity to wrestle with translating thought, feeling and experience to the canvas in vibrant color.

Keep creating friends.

Keep ushering art into your life in all its various forms.

Look for the light, it is waiting to be found.

With Passion,

Melynda

Do you have any paintings in neutral colors?

Horn's Ferry Bridge #1 24 x 30 Acrylic on Canvas Melynda Van Zee © 2016

Horn’s Ferry Bridge #1
24 x 30
Acrylic on Canvas
Melynda Van Zee © 2016

My dearest creative hearts,

I’m sitting at my computer desk gazing out of my window on a gorgeous fall afternoon- it is an unbelievable 72 degrees on Nov. 4. (I am born and raised in Iowa and we are long trained to start most any conversation with a comment on the weather!) And, now that the gorgeous weather conversation has got us going…what’s really on my heart and mind is a recent artistic challenge I’ve been wrestling with.

One question I have been frequently asked is “Do you have any paintings in neutral colors?” Now to be honest- I’ve met these requests to paint with more neutrals with a variety of responses…down right ignoring them, laughing them off, feigning interest while internally shouting “But I DON’T paint neutrals, they are boring”, followed by a crossing my arms pose while internally staking my claim “I paint COLOR!” Occasionally I would let myself wonder, maybe I could try it, but then a whole other host of excuses and fears would rise up. I would worry that in light of my earlier work with bright colors, I “shouldn’t paint neutrals” because it might dilute the signature colors I usually put on my palette. Artists are trained by professionals and gallery owners to do consistent work in a recognizable palette and style so that people can easily recognize the work-deviating from the known can create marketing challenges. But, underneath all the mental gymnastics, what I think was really going on was fear- fears I wouldn’t figure out the technical difficulties of switching to a new color palette, fears the paintings wouldn’t be beautiful (what if people don’t like them?), fears that maybe people would think maybe I was “going through a hard time” if I starting painting gray paintings. Oh- the power of fear to block our creative experiments!

Horn's Ferry Bridge #3 12 x 36 Acrylic on Canvas Melynda Van Zee © 2016

Horn’s Ferry Bridge #3
12 x 36
Acrylic on Canvas
Melynda Van Zee © 2016

I wish I could tell you that I was so self aware that right away I just started painting neutral paintings. But the reality is that I had to personally do the steps to the creative process that I have taught in my classes so many times throughout the years. One benefit of having painted for many years is that I am becoming more knowledgable about my own resistance patterns to creativity. Sometimes I can’t or don’t take the time to step back and figure out what is going on internally, to really digest what truly is getting in the way.

Horn's Ferry Bridge Marion County, IA Completed in 1881

Horn’s Ferry Bridge
Marion County, IA
Completed in 1881

What finally helped to break my creative roadblock was taking a walk to one of my favorite places-Lake Red Rock. I explored again old territory by doing a slow walk across the remaining section of Horn’s Ferry Bridge that still rises above the Des Moines River.

I allowed myself to go and hang out at a place I have been hundreds of times before, but this time I saw it with fresh eyes. I walked the planks searching for inspiration and sure enough I found it-under my feet.

knots

The weathered boards…

the knots…

the lines…

the gaps…

Horn's Ferry Bridge #2 16 x 40 Acrylic on Canvas Melynda Van Zee © 2016

Horn’s Ferry Bridge #2
16 x 40
Acrylic on Canvas
Melynda Van Zee © 2016

The creative cycle going full circle- a problem to solve, making something new from something old, letting the past speak into my future, letting my specific place in this world inform my art and inspire new creative leaps. A settling of my spirit in knowing that this series of work is authentic to me and my story and my places. And, that the seemingly simple requests for more paintings in a neutral color palette took me on a creative ride back to pieces of my own story.

With Passion,

Melynda

 

horns-ferry-bridge-sign

You have the opportunity to purchase one of the new “Horns Ferry Bridge” series at any one of these three upcoming shows in central Iowa or by contacting me directly at the studio- just send me an email (melynda@melyndavanzee.com) if you are interested.

2016 Art Show Schedule

  • Santa’s North Pole Show, Booth #413, Parkview Middle School, 105 NW Pleasant St, Ankeny, IA (November 5 9am – 4pm) 
  • Art on the Prairie, Hotel Pattee, Perry, IA (November 12 & 13)
  • Iowa Arts & Craft Show, Varied Industries Bldg, Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, IA (November 18, 19 & 20)

I’m also working on a collaborative painting with artist Chris Vance for the upcoming Paintpushers show “Collision”. Painting in progress now- make plans to see the collaborative piece and meet all the Paintpusher artists at the opening reception on Dec. 2 at the Des Moines Social Club!

2016 Art Exhibits

  • Collision, Paintpushers Collaborative Showcase, Des Moines Social Club,
    Des Moines, IA, December 1-31, 2016 
    Meet the Artists Opening Reception Friday Dec. 2, 2016 5-9 pm

Developing a Series

Spheres of Connection 36 x 48 Melynda Van Zee©2016

Spheres of Connection
36 x 48
Melynda Van Zee©2016

Dear Creative Heart,

Throughout this year, I’ve been developing a new series of paintings. Earlier this year I wrote about the very beginning phases of this new series.  I have continued working through additional pieces in the series focused on the visual symbol of the sphere. The sphere (or circle) has been a fascinating vehicle for so many ideas running through my thoughts and for translating experiences from real life. The spheres I have painted have been containers of color, thought, pattern, brush strokes, design, and internal processes.

A few weeks ago I finished “Spheres of Connection”. It seems appropriately titled since we just celebrated one year in our new home and new community. So much has been brought full circle in our lives and for that I am deeply grateful.

Spheres of Diversity 30 x 80 Diptych Melynda Van Zee©2016

Spheres of Diversity
30 x 80 Diptych
Melynda Van Zee©2016

Next week at the art fair in Lake Geneva, WI, I’ll be debuting the newest piece in my ongoing spheres series entitled “Spheres of Diversity”. The news stories of the summer have highlighted again the diversity of struggles still facing our culture in so many arenas. One question that strikes me is how different would our world be if we would look more for the beauty in our diversity instead of the divide? My sense is that the time has come to focus on uncovering the beauty in our complex stories and unique experiences so that together we can be voices who bring a new focus, a fresh hope and eyes of wisdom to the deep hurt and divide in our culture.

With Passion,

Melynda

Spheres of Complexity at Boats Home Furnishings Melynda Van Zee©2016

Spheres of Complexity at Boat’s Home Furnishings
Melynda Van Zee©2016

 

 

Creative Influences and Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves by Melynda Van Zee 36 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas

“Gravitational Waves” by Melynda Van Zee
36 x 48
Acrylic on Canvas

Dear Creative Heart,

What are your creative influences? 

Are you influenced by…

  • where you live?
  • the people you live with?
  • the physical surroundings in your home or workplace?
  • classes or professional studies in a particular area?
  • past work experiences?
  • past life experiences?
  • the books you’ve read?
  • the places you’ve visited?
  • the things you have chosen to do or not to do?
  • places you visit on a frequent basis?
  • once in a lifetime experiences?
  • things you value?
  • your life priorities?
  • your tradition and culture?

No matter what type of creative activities you pursue, whether that is creative thinking on the job, creative parenting, creative pursuits such as painting, writing, sculpting, photography, you are using your creative muscles multiple times a day as you solve the problems you encounter in the many aspects of your life both personally and professionally.

I’ve been thinking lately about what are the key things that influence my own creative work. I find some things are easier to discern and recognize in my own work than other things. I also am keenly aware that sometimes we are so close to our own influences and personal stories that it is easy to underestimate the ways that they seep into our work and creative solutions. I know I’m influenced by where I live-I am a creative living in the heart of the prairie in central Iowa. I know my relationships with the people who surround me in my personal life show up in the emotions and colors I create with on canvas. I’m becoming more aware of how my past experiences as a professional educator color the way I approach my creative work and the business of being a creative. I am certain that my love of reading and books challenges and grows the way I think and experience the world.

In a recent painting I was surprised to find one of my past explorations into the world of science creep into my work. When I was in college I was faced with the decision to choose a science class and studying the stars seemed a better choice than all the other options, so I signed up for a year of astronomy. I had no idea the amount of actual math and science (!?!!!) that would be involved in the course, but lab time spent gazing through the huge telescope in the observatory at our professor’s house more than captured my active imagination. And so at random interactions in my life, my interest in astronomy is peeked-a visit to NASA in Florida, solar eclipses, red moons, and now… gravitational waves. I’ve been a bit mesmerized by the recent scientific news this year scientists have been able to measure gravitational waves, which are ripples in the fabric of space time that are created when black holes collide. Predicted by Einstein in 1915-1916, studied for decades and now the year 2016 will be going down in history as the year that successful detection of gravitational waves occurred. I really am the farthest thing from a science junky, but thoughts like “What would it be like to experience the energy created when black holes collide?” and “What would the collision of black holes really look like?” have fascinated my mind.

And, as these thoughts and random scientific articles floated through my mind, I designed a painting. When I looked back at the line work several weeks later-I wondered if this might be a mere imperfect impression-a bit of intuitive artistic imagination on my part colliding with my scientific reading…I’m still pondering about it, but I do know that this painting experience stirred something deep within me.

Dear Creative Heart, my encouragement for you to today is to reflect on your unique life and study how these influences maybe showing up in your creative work. Repeat again and again…

With Passion,

Melynda