Posts Tagged: overcoming creativity blocks

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

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

To subscribe to more “Dear Creative Heart” messages from Melynda Van Zee’s Studio – http://eepurl.com/bE8KbP

Just Imagine Class Registration Opens Tomorrow

Just Imagine Class Beginning for Fall

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.

Just Imagine Class Schedule

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

To reserve your spot,
call the studio at 641-628-9497
or email
melynda@melyndavanzee.com

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


Registration Information:
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!”