Posts in Category: creativity growth

New Inner Core Painting Series

After a winter season of painting in my studio, I’m pleased to share with you my new Inner Core painting series. Last year I found myself painting a recurring image of a spiral shape. These spiral shapes were different from other spirals I had painted in the past. The shapes began in the center, but rather than spinning counter-clockwise around a center point, the lines flowed outward and came back to the center again. This movement repeated itself again and again around a central point.

Because it had continually been showing up in my work over and over, I let myself be more curious and continued to explore this shape-especially experimenting with multiple spiraling and overlapping shapes within the paintings. And, I challenged myself to paint these spiral shapes on a much larger scale. The shapes were bold, flowing, overlapping, multi-dimensional and soothing. I began working on four large canvases by pouring lines of acrylic paint from bottles and then adding layers of translucent paint. Slowly over the time I’ve worked within this imagery, the more I’ve become aware that a theme of focusing on the inner core of life was appearing before my eyes on the canvases.

Freedom from the Core 48×48 Melynda Van Zee©2019

Speaking into our current culture

Simultaneously, I’ve also been thinking about the concept that artists are often responding to the shifts, trends and realities of the culture within which they live. Sometimes adapting their work to the cultural norms and sometimes reacting against or speaking into the current cultural flow. As I reflect on our cultural life together, I’m increasingly alarmed by the way our communication with each other and knowledge of our personal selves is being eroded right before our eyes.

Detail from Authentic Connections 48×48 Melynda Van Zee©2019

Awareness

Awareness is one of the first skills I teach in creativity classes. And, I’m still somewhat incredulous how important it is that I teach this- how important it is that I teach people to “look”, to really look at the world within and around them. As a culture we have forgotten what it looks like to really pay attention to our particular physical and non-physical world. We are so absorbed in what other people think, what other people are saying, how other people are reacting to current political and societal ills that we have forgotten how to slow down and look at what is happening in our own hearts, in our own personal relationships, and in our own backyards.

We are afraid to look too deep, because there we might find the things we don’t want to face. As a culture we are numbing out with reactive living, technology or other mood altering habits. These invasive habits are our escape mechanisms.

Detail from Resting in the Shadows 48×60 Melynda Van Zee©2019

New Inner Core Series

My new Inner Core Series has arisen from my own journey of choosing an alternative path-a different way of showing up in the world. It is a path that involves focusing on my own inner core. My art practice is one of the crucial pieces of how I figure out who I am- who I am going to be in this world and how I am going to show up. Art gives me a healthy place to make all these explorations and process my world. It is a sensory experience-the intensity of the colors, the movement of the brush, the vibrancy of the creativity flowing through me.

It is in my art journals- in the gathering of visual information and sketching that I begin to quiet down the outside world and allow myself to explore my own unique visual ideas. I filter the ideas and sketches in my art journal  and eventually some of the ideas end up as paintings. This process requires paying attention to my own heart, emotions, thoughts, decision making, responses and reactions.

Detail from Resting in the Shadows 48×60 Melynda Van Zee©2019

Creativity Research Project

This vulnerable journey feels like a giant creativity research project that I’ve been investigating for years. I don’t want to keep the results of this work to myself, so I keep sharing my discoveries and creations with you. Thank you for joining in with my on-going creativity research project. If you’d like to see more of the new series, the paintings are available to view in Paintings. Interested in purchasing a specific piece? Please contact me on our Contact page. Finally, if you’d like to see me at an art show this upcoming spring/summer season, the schedule is below.  

Remember to Retreat

"Create Inside Out" painted live in San Jose, CA

“Create Inside Out” painted live in San Jose, CA

Dear Creative Heart,

In January I found myself invited to share my love of creativity and art with the student body at San Jose Christian School in California. A couple of days before I flew out, the weather had sunk to -6 degrees here and I relished the idea of sinking my frozen Iowa toes into some green California grass.

I was delighted by so much more that just warmer temps and green grass- I was warmly welcomed by the beautiful community at the school who engaged my live painting and my personal journey to embracing creativity. I was blessed by the enthusiasm of the students, their thoughtful questions and our creativity conversations.

After my time sharing at school, I had the opportunity to sit by the ocean and watch the waves roll into shore. I strolled the streets and galleries of Carmel-by-the-Sea…taking in the feast of creativity, color and skills of so many gifted artists. I experienced the gift of warm hospitality and reconnecting with a dear friend and her family.

As I have reflected on my time in California, I’m struck by how blessed I was by the entire experience-the opportunity to fly across the country (I didn’t have to take a covered wagon like pioneer women of old), the opportunity to share my gifts with the next generation, the opportunity to see new sights, meet new people and think new thoughts.

These are the things that help keep an artistic life sustainable.

These are the things that bring a fresh breath to my soul.

Dear creative heart- remember to retreat, to travel, to do something new, to share your gifts again…your heart just may expand and your creativity just may blossom into new directions.

With Passion,

Melynda

“Create Inside Out” painted live in San Jose, CA

Saying YES

Look for the Beauty in the Chaos 48 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas Painted Live during Christmas Eve Services Lutheran Church of Hope West Des Moines, IA

Look for the Beauty in the Chaos
48 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas
Painted Live during Christmas Eve Services at Lutheran Church of Hope West Des Moines, IA

Dear Creative Heart,

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had opportunity to practice saying YES…to say YES to things that were out of my comfort zone…to say YES to things that I couldn’t control the outcome of…to say YES to things that I didn’t think could be a reality in my creative life.

Did you catch that I said I had the opportunity to practice saying YES? As we head into this new year, I’d like to encourage you to ponder what you might be asked to say YES to in your own personal life and creative journey.

How might you get to practice saying YES?

Saying YES takes strength of spirit and character…saying YES takes releasing control of outcomes…and sometimes saying YES might mean further challenges…and saying YES usually involves some form of risk…which is…need I say it…RISKY people!

Oh…my dear creative friends…you will pick wrong sometimes, you might get hurt sometimes due to your choices…some people may not agree with your decisions…and risk is risky but, what is the alternative?

To quiet the voices inside of you that are whispering to your heart?

To shut down your creativity and the vitality of your life?

To miss opportunities to use your unique gifts and skills?

May I gently encourage you to find time to quiet yourself (you probably can’t quiet down your life and all the chaos that swirls around you), but try to spend some time listening to what is rolling around in your heart. I’ve found this is rather hard to do if you are super tired so taking a nap first or getting some extra sleep might be a first step for you. Designate a quiet place in your home for you to regoup and quiet yourself. Buy a journal to record some of your thoughts. Commit to making time to listen to your own life and heart.

Your creative heart will tell you, it will prompt you, it will whisper to you next steps, but you need to learn to listen and then practice saying YES to whatever whispers you hear.

With Passion,

Melynda

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Dealing with Uncertainty

"My Delight" 30 x 40 Acrylic on Canvas by Melynda Van Zee

“My Delight” 30 x 40 Acrylic on Canvas by Melynda Van Zee

Dear Creative Heart,

Warning!

Danger!

Maybe if there were bright orange blinking lights right ahead of us we would take notice, but that doesn’t usually happen with our creative work. No, we usually don’t pay close enough attention and then we fall smack dab in the middle of one of the most deadly creative pitfalls-wanting to have it all figured out RIGHT NOW! Yes, we want to know how our creative projects are going to turn out. We want to know that customers are going to purchase our work before we offer it for sale. We want to be guaranteed that other people are going to love our work before we even make the work. We want to know a new technique we long to experiment with is going to “work” before we buy the art supplies to try it. Oh, there is just so much uncertainty in this whole creative thing! 

I wish I could tell you it is all going to work out. I wish I could tell you that you will sell out the first print run of your new book or sell everything at your first art show. I wish I could guarantee you that the new technique you long to try is really going to work, but I can’t. I would hate for you not to have the practice of growing your own creative muscles. We don’t grow many muscles the first time we lift weights-it is the continual repetition that produces strength. 

One of the biggest roadblocks to developing an ongoing creative practice is that most artists give up. We have a hard time dealing with uncertainty. We don’t give ourselves time for work to develop, to learn new techniques, or to take the long view. We want it all and we think we want it NOW. But, our creativity shouldn’t be at the service of our instant gratification needs. Our creative practice is one thing that may help us to counteract our “need to have it now” mentality. It may be the thing that develops our inner fortitude to keep going when things aren’t clear-when the path isn’t known. It is a skill and a muscle we all need to have as we traverse real life. We don’t get everything we want, when we want it. Everything doesn’t always work out perfectly. Not everyone is going to like your work or “get” your work, but there are people out there who will. Sometimes starting a new technique will lead you to new directions you couldn’t have imagined before.

When the resistance builds,
when you have a set back,
when things don’t go exactly as you planned,
that is not the time to give up.

You don’t need to have it all figured out. It is a journey and there are going to be switch backs and missed turns.

Why dear creative heart would you go on an adventure if you knew everything before you ever left home?

With passion,

Melynda

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