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!
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.
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.
The weathered boards…
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested.
2016 Art Show Schedule
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
Dear Creative Heart,
What are your creative influences?
Are you influenced by…
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…
If you’d like a little help in dealing with creative overwhelm or other creative challenges you face, please consider joining me here in the studio for Just Imagine.
|Painting completed during Just Imagine class|
This is for you if…
You are still not working on your projects.
Still not creating what is in your heart.
Still answering to someone else’s call rather than your own.
Still not leading the life you imagine.
Still not following the unique call on your life.
Come explore with us…
What is standing in the way?
Why is it so hard?
Let me walk you through a process of creating real change. Let’s uncover the path to a vibrant, passionate and creative life that can be yours.
Let’s take a look deep inside to see what is blocking you from creating the compelling and stimulating work of your dreams.
Together we will explore the building blocks necessary to a healthy creative lifestyle.
We will take some time to look inward to help unleash your passion that is simmering right below the surface.
Start connecting the dots of your emotional, spiritual and creative needs to help you take the next steps in your journey.
And, the best thing…we will use art as the pathway for this discovery process.
Monday, September 24, 2012 7:00 pm-8:30 pm Awareness
Monday, October 1, 2012 7:00 pm-8:30 pm Identity
Monday, October 8, 2012 7:00 pm-8:30 pm Process
Monday, October 15, 2012 7:00 pm-8:30 pm Imagination
Monday, October 22, 2012 7:00 pm-8:30 pm Resistance & Attacks
No class Monday, October 29 Take a Break
Monday, November 5, 2012 7:00 pm-8:30 pm Authenticity
Registration begins Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 at 8:00 am. Registration is “first come, first serve basis”.
Registration will close on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012.
For more class information, see the studio website at www.melyndavanzee.com.
|Painting in Just Imagine class at Melynda Van Zee’s Studio|
A “Just Imagine” study guide containing all lessons & projects will be included.
•This is a 6-week course meeting once a week for 1.5 hours.
•You will create your own personal art journal-a place to respond and react to your “Just Imagine” journey and several other artistic projects to unleash your creativity.
•Materials for use in class will be included in your registration fee.
•Outside class expectation: Prompts for activities outside of class will be provided each week. It is your decision to participate as time and desire allows.
•A recommended reading list will be included in your materials.
•Melynda will be available to answer questions over email for the duration of the class.
|Creativity in action at Just Imagine Retreat|
Class Fee: $135.00 (includes study guide and all in-class art materials).
Class Size: Limited to 4 students per session to allow for individual attention.
Registration begins Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 8:00 am. Registration is “first come, first serve basis”.
Registration will close on Tuesday, September 18, 2012.
Payment due Wednesday, September 19, 2012.
Class must meet minimum enrollment to be held.
|Sometimes you might get a bit messy!|
“I was looking for help in getting over a “rut” I’ve been in. Melynda has helped me tap into helpful exercises to overcome my creative block.
The class is in depth and open, all at the same time. I highly recommend this class! Fun, too!” Lisa Davis-Kovarik
“Definitely take this! It makes you think about a lot of different areas and have those ‘Oh! I get it!’ moments!
This is an awesome class. I suggest it to every artsy person!!!! even if you’re not, you will love it!!” Jill Edwards
|Experimenting with new supplies is just part of the fun|
“It’s not just for visual artists. It’s for anyone who longs to express who they are-what God has given them to share.” Heidi Schulte
“It’s so important to surround yourself with other creatives as you pursue your creative journey. Just Imagine provides the content and community helpful for creative growth.” Aaron Jones
“It’s so beautiful hearing your stories, looking at how your lies have been affecting you and how you’ve overcome them. I relate to you and being in a room full of creative and spiritual people is a comfort and joy.” Jodie Landt
Quotes from other Just Imagine class members…
“I was looking for help in getting over a ‘rut’ I’ve been in. Melynda has helped me tap into helpful exercises to overcome my creative block. The class is in depth and open all at the same time. I highly recommend this class! Fun, too!“
“Do it!!! You’ll learn a lot about yourself and the beautiful gift we have been given as creatives.”
“Go! Even if you don’t think you’re ‘in the mood’ to be creative”.
“Learn to let go and experience and be “REAL”.
“You’ll love this class-very relaxing and fun!”