My sketchbook is a part of “SKETCHBOOK. An exhibition of artist’s books” at the 33 Contemporary Gallery in the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. The exhibit opens tomorrow on Sept. 15 and runs through October 14, 2017. My sketchbook with the hand painted turquoise green and gold cover (middle sketchbook pictured below) includes a selection of random sketches, art journal pages and color studies created over the past three years. Keeping a sketchbook is such an integral part of my creative process, but I rarely share them. My sketchbook is the “behind the scenes” place where so many of my paintings and other creative activities are generated.
“FREE: Pathways Toward Freedom“, a solo show by Melynda Van Zee, will be open October 3 through November 29, 2017 at the Main Gallery of the Ankeny Art Center 1520 SW Ordnance Road Ankeny, IA 50023. Please join us for the Opening Reception on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 5-7 pm. The gallery is free and open to the public Tuesday-Friday 9am-1pm, Thursday 4pm-7pm, Saturday 9am-Noon.
In “FREE: Pathways Toward Freedom” Central Iowa artist Melynda Van Zee uses spiral imagery to express the deep inner work necessary to finding equilibrium and energy to pursue a creative life. The spiral is one of the most commonly found design forms in nature and is symbolic of growth and transformation. From the galaxies to DNA to our fingertips, spirals are prevalent in natural formations and are one of the most efficient ways for something to grow. For the past ten years she has used her painting process as a method of internal excavating to discover her path.
Dear Creative Friends,
Over the last days and weeks I’ve been revisiting my “WHY?”
Why do I paint?
Why do I feel the deep need to create?
Why do I share my art?
Why do I love to inspire you to create?”
While it is not out of the ordinary for me to go back to these fundamental questions, I’m well aware that this latest bout of deep thinking has intensified since I’ve been faced with deciding on a title for an upcoming art show at the Ankeny Art Center in October. Over the winter my goal was to concentrate on painting, but now I’m at the stage of stepping back and looking at this body of work and pondering such things as “Is there a cohesive theme here?” and “What are the common threads?”
The reoccurring thought that hasn’t let me go was the word “FREE”.
What does it look like to paint free?
What does it look like to freely live an abundant creative life?
What does it feel like to live and walk in internal freedom?
What does it mean to live free?
I hope I’m never done exploring the answers to these questions. I hope I revisit them over and over again coming to deeper conclusions and convictions. But, for now, I’m acknowledging that this, too, is a journey and I don’t need to have all the answers today.
What I do know is that I long to continue to say yes to my creative freedom, to say yes to painting freely from that which is within me waiting to come out in line and color, and to say yes to living my life free to make choices that are healthy for me.
I’m also keenly aware that the the contrasting side to this journey involves simultaneously exploring the things that stop me from living and freely creating with passion. It is within this juxtaposition that we live as humans-this is where the juice is…the messy middle as we each walk our pathways toward freedom.
Mark your Calendars now: Please join us for FREE: Pathways Toward Freedom, a solo art show by Melynda Van Zee at the Ankeny Art Center,
1520 SW Ordnance Rd, Ankeny, IA, October 3- November 29, 2017. Artist Reception Thursday, October 12 5:00-7:00 pm.
Creating paintings that resonate with viewers, paintings that hold the viewers attention and bring them back again for another look, is a major goal of every painter. I spent the winter months this year buried in my Iowa studio creating a new body of work and now I’ve started to share it publicly. I’m two art shows in for the year. In the last month I’ve been to my first show in St. Louis, MO at the Laumeier Sculpture Park and participated in a show on the downtown streets of Iowa City, IA.
One of the major benefits to artists exhibiting at an art fair is getting direct feedback from your audience and customers. I’ve learned to observe my visitors and listen closely to their feedback. I’ve also started to jot down some of their comments and observations for me to reflect on later. They are teaching me about my own work. They ask inquisitive questions and as I answer their questions they help me to become more articulate about my work and techniques. Creating a painting is much more of a solitary pursuit, interacting with the general public in my art booth is not.
Observations, Questions and Comments from the road so far this year…
“I feel like you are inside my head.”
“There is so much depth here.”
“You’re my kind of painter.”
“Looks like lots of spontaneity there- I like that…to see surprises.”
“Calming and soothing, yet full of life bubbling up.”
“It’s just like free… so free.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“I love your stuff. It’s so vibrant!”
From a trio of college friends… “Groovy!” “It’s crazy stuff!” “Rad!”
“What is the name of your method? What about the ‘Van Zee Free Method’?”
And, lots of questions about technique…
“Is it glue?”
“Is it Elmer’s?”
“Is it wax?”
“Is it encaustic?”
To which I answer… “No, it is all acrylic mediums and paints”.
“Really??? Cause I didn’t even know acrylic could do anything like this?”
And, then I start to notice which paintings people are gravitating toward and which paintings they look at for a long time and which paintings they point out and talk about to their friends or family.
This year I’ve noticed there is one painting that consistently gets feedback. It is the painting titled “Unraveled Fears”.
Some comments about “Unraveled Fears”…
“It looks like a tornado of love.”
“I think it is an elephant.”
“Looks like female anatomy parts to me.”
“It’s a tornado. I know it’s a tornado!”
“Have you ever in your life stood in front of a painting for such a long time?” From two college age musicians who spent a good half hour studying the painting
And, an interchange between a mom and her high school age son…(which so appropriately happened on Mother’s Day)
Son: “I think it is going up.”
Mom: “No, it is going down.”
Son: “No, I am sure it is going up.”
Mom: “No. I am positive it is going down and I’m the mom so I am right!”
“Unraveled Fears” may be the painting that I wrestled with the most this winter. I spent so much time adding more layers to this painting and and it was the work I was the most hesitant to share. This seems to be a reoccurring experience for me- the paintings that resonate deeply with me, the ones that feel the most deeply personal, the pieces I’m concerned about sharing…end up being the paintings that elicit the most in-depth concentration and conversations. They draw people in for a longer look.
The work that resonates deeply with me, also resonates deeply with others.
And, once again, I am reminded and challenged of what I know to be true…that when artists create from that which is within, when they create from that which is authentic, when they allow their heart and soul to flow into the work, the work will resonate and the real conversations will begin and continue long into the future.