Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New blog home

I'm going to be writing and posting art at Melynda's Passion from now on. Feel free to bookmark my new site which will focus more on my fine art and creativity. You can also follow me on Twitter-I'm learning so many new things!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Inside Out

"Carving Bedrock" Copyright 2009 Melynda Van Zee

Inside Out, an art show featuring Melynda Van Zee’s abstract and conceptual acrylic paintings, will open Tuesday, July 28 from 7-9 pm at the new Studio 201 above the Galerie of Pella. An artist presentation will be held at 7:30 pm. The show will be open during regular business hours until August 25, 2009.

Melynda’s new work is focused on inner landscapes, unseen realities and spiritual explorations. Melynda shares, “I’m endlessly fascinated with journeys-the journey each of us takes as we discover the path we were created to walk in life. I enjoy painting as I journey. The paintings are a brief glimpse in vivid color of my own experiences, emotions and prayers. My biggest challenge has been to allow myself to paint the good… and the difficult, the beautiful… and the painful-to allow the breadth of my life to find its way onto the canvas.”

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Freely wild

Southern Iowa sunset

"The creator goes off on one wild, specific tangent after another, or millions simultaneously, with an exuberance that would seem to be unwarranted, and with an abandoned energy sprung from an unfathomable font. What's going on here? The point of the dragonfly's terrible lip, the giant water bug, birdsong, or the beautiful dazzle and flash of sunlighted minnows, is not that it all fits together like clockwork-for it doesn't, particularly, not even inside the goldfish bowl-but that it all flows so freely wild, like the creek, that it all surges in such a free, fringed tangle. Freedom is the world's water and weather, the world's nourishment freely given, it's soil and sap and the creator loves pizzazz." Anne Dillard "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

that it all flows so freely a free, fringed tangle...freely I live like that? Can I embrace the parts of my life that are a huge tangle? I work so hard to unravel it all...try to fit it into neat categories, but that is not the way He created. So, that gives me some internal freedom today-it's "OK" that on some days I create in paint, some days paper, some days an art journal page, some days nothing at all, some days watercolor or acrylic or ink or a relationship. And, some days, I just need to take the time to study the work of the master creator-to see the colors of an Iowa sunset free for the looking, to see the delicate wildflowers randomly blooming at the base of a black walnut tree, to study the endless expressions and emotions of the people in my life, to see, to live awake and present and freely wild.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


May is always an interesting time when you live in Pella. The rush of color, the tourists, the busy Tulip Time schedule, boys with fishing on the brain, the end of a ministry year, wrapped up with kids trying to juggle Little League and school...Tulip Time


It's hard for me to believe that the end of May is here and the tulip beds have all been dug up for another year. We have 3 end of the year school parties in the next two days. But, this is the last week of school and we can look forward to a different pace-maybe sleeping in (my goal) and the swimming pool (boys' goal)!

Scott Henderson of Vintage Image Craft graciously interviewed me this past month and is featuring me as the artist of the month in May. He asked such great questions and has posted the interview here. Check out the other interesting interviews with artists such as Carol Duvall.

Taking Flight

Four or five times since I returned from a retreat at Laity Lodge in Texas, I’ve been asked this one question or some version of this question “What was your one take away from this retreat?” And, I’ve played around in my own head…what is the story here? What will stay with me from this experience? Sometimes, when something is still fresh it is hard to sort out the big picture or the real story for me. I’ve been sitting with this thought for the last few weeks-periodically going over my notes, reading the blogs of people I met and reviewing my photos. I still don’t know if I’ve “gotten there” that magical place where I’ve sorted it all out and have been able to pin point “this…this is what happened here”. And, coincidentally, I heard a similar question when I was in Texas “Why are you here?” I was the only attendee currently living in Iowa and everyone wanted to know what brought me there. So many questions and I still don’t have all the answers, but I do know that God wanted me there. There were things for me to hear and see, so even though I haven’t “arrived” at a place where I can clarify this all…here are a few glimpses into what I experienced.

On the flight from Iowa to Texas…why do the fields in Texas look purple from the air? Can someone explain that to me?

I was fascinated with this sculpture from the start of the retreat-it spoke to my spirit.

David said many things but this deeply connected with me “Our job is to get in touch with our own brokenness so that the hope of Jesus can come in.” “Beauty and light comes forth from brokenness.” And pointed to the work of Henri Nouwen “Wounded Healer”.

When discussing his own work, Mako shared “I didn’t have room in my heart for the beauty”. Brian Moss’ worship leading brought me to tears on the very first night. Gwen Meharg inspired me with her prophetic painting. Over amazing food, I connected with Laura Barket, Lance Mansfield, and Mark Philpot. Kelly Barrow, Jack King and Shannon Newby shared studio time, while I was making a glass sculpture, painting and experimenting with beeswax.
Jack King sharing his artwork and new found career

3D studio

2D studio

Early morning light spreading over Laity Lodge.

Layers of shadows, reflections & art- Cody Center

Some camera experimentation…

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and sun shines bright. We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly as he knows us!” 1 Corinthians 13:12 The Message

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where Women Create (My 6 Month Journey to a New Space)

I've heard so many great things about the new magazine "Where Women Create" and met the gals who are responsible for putting it together when I was at CHA in California. Amazing, beautiful spaces...and it started me thinking about where I create. I started glancing back through my photos of the past year and realized I have been on a journey to "Where I Create". Thought it might be fun to share the trip...ALERT-this is NOT a "magazine perfect" trip- this is my real, messy, long trip -an Iowa woman- high on creativity, low on desire to put her funds into making a perfect studio happen (I'd rather buy paint and canvases!)

Last fall, I started to outgrow my space in my corner studio/converted guest room so...I headed for the garage-complete with "cleaned out flower bed weeds" in the wheelbarrow sharing my space.

I had some yucky stuff to get out onto paper and canvas so this was a perfect spot-until it got COLD.

Then, I was invited to move to a downtown location-a quiet, secluded basement spot.

Plenty of room to spread out and a ledge to prop up some canvases.

So, I had a place to paint, which was great because a MAJOR purge was going on in my little studio. At some point this past December I realized I had multiple identities still living in this space and finally was able to tackle the files, drawers, and closet full of accumulated "old me's". I had been longing to declutter my studio but it is so hard for my artist self to part with all of my carefully collected and treasured art supplies. I had no trouble getting rid of my old maternity clothes but art supplies and ideas...that is an entirely different story! Julie Morgenstern's "When Organizing Isn't Enough" helped me realize it was my thought process that was the problem. Six or seven black garbage bags later, along with a huge garage sale pile separated out in my basement, I was starting to make some headway. You know the saying "it has got to get worse before it can get better"...everything was out and a disaster.

Another place I got to create was at beautiful cottage- a weekend getaway with girlfriends allowed me to focused on creating scrapbook layouts of some of our best 2008 moments. It was such a peaceful place to create- windows overlooking a frozen pond, full moon with a fresh snowfall during the night.

The move to the garage and then the basement studio allowed me to keep painting larger and larger works. I wanted to be able to create these larger pieces in my home studio, but there simply wasn't room so I started strategizing all the ways I could find more space in my studio. I was cleaning out but I still needed more room. Maybe the computer and desk could move to the kitchen? Early one morning I grabbed one of the Homespacing kits from Canvas Corp. and started playing with it. I really wasn't so sure if this would be something I would ever use-I'm usually the sort of gal who doesn't take the time to plan out exactly where everything goes. I just start moving furniture around and "see how it fits", but with this big of a project I thought it couldn't hurt. And, somewhere in the middle of plotting out where everything could go in my current studio space a wild idea entered my head. What if converted this space into a bedroom for one of my boys and moved my studio into our current living room? I really didn't think my beloved hubby would go for the idea, but I used the Office/studio kit to plot it all out and then I showed him. He said it made great sense so the plan was in place.

I tried it out by re-arranging furniture and moving my studio table into the living room. Then, I talked him into letting me pull up the carpet so the boys so we moved everything back out of the room and we spent one morning of Spring Break removing the carpet.

We pulled hundreds of staples and then I simply painted the plywood floor boards and we moved everything back in. The only thing I purchased was a new roller to paint the floor. My mom came and helped me organize all the bookshelves and do a bit of decorating. We painted the old studio room this weekend so now the bedroom is just about ready as well.

My New Studio

My easel will go in the other corner of the room- so much more space and the best lighting in the house. It wasn't a fast process-the whole thing worked on in and out of my already busy work and family life. But, thanks to all my family who helped me create just the right space for this woman to create.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHA Sneak Peeks of Canvas Corp.

I'm so excited to show you some Sneak Peeks from the Canvas Corp. booth (#2871).

NEW Canvas

Check out these cute canvas banners-they have a whole new line of canvas products-circles, stars, hearts, squares. They have this great unfinished edge look.

Look at ALL the different shapes! And, canvas from 2 x 2 to 18 x 18. Seriously-how cute are those little tiny square canvases. I can't wait to play with those.

A 12 x 12 Canvas-I just used my scrapbooking circle cutters to trace around with a pencil and then painted.

And great canvas pillows you can decorate any way you want!

Paint Almost ANYTHING-NO sanding, NO priming, NO chemicals

And, for the thing I'm super excited to show everyone at the show-did you know their "Furniture, Cabinet and Trim" paint can be used to paint almost anything-yes, even metal, tin, or old vintage wood pieces!?! Look at these beautiful candle sticks-yah-I've got a few of those brass beauties sitting around in my closet. They painted them a gorgeous chocolate brown and it sticks! I can't get over it! That table they are setting on was one of those old 70's style dark wood with fake brass detailing-now a gorgeous white.

Maybe I shouldn't get quite so excited over a paint-it is JUST PAINT after all, but after all the years of trying to find a good paint to use on all the stuff I have brought home from garage sales and flea markets and finally finding SOMETHING that actually works without all the fuss and mess-well, it DOES get me excited.

Design Binder

This album was the perfect place for my Disney scrapbook because it comes with several different multi-photo pages already packaged into one album. There are 8 1/2 x 11 page protectors, 4 up and 8 up multi-photo pages and a great heavy duty zipper pouch. I really like the look of the wire album rings and they uncrew in a snap, so I could rearrange my pages anyway I wanted.

8 up with our Disney passes and some journalling boxes

4 up with some really cute astronauts.

Transparency Overlay

They also have black decorative hardware so while I use these to hang my original fine art paintings, I also think they are adorable on a scrapbook page with the Canvas black jute rope tied between the two.

Now, there is also some more way cool things...but I can't let everything out of the bag before the show so you'll just have to wait. If I get a chance later on tonight, I will try to post some more photos of some of the projects I'm finishing up on before hitting the plane early tomorrow morning!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

CHA Designer Event

If you are planning on attending CHA, make sure you stop by the Canvas Corp. Booth during the last hour of the show on Day 1. From 4:30-5:30 pm on Jan. 25, they will be giving away product goodie bags and a $25 gift certificate to all the designers who show up. While you are there don't forget to ask for information concerning their designer endorsement program.

Here is a link to their Canvas Corp if you want to have a look around and check out all of their cool products. Can't wait to see you there!

"Bedrock" (22 x 29) Copyright 2008 Melynda Van Zee

I've been busy in the studio planning to head to market. It is good for me to have a deadline-helps me to sort out all the creating I've been up to and try to put some structure around it. I'd rather concentrate on the "just making stuff" but every now and then I have to come up for air and figure out exactly what I've been up to and figure out the best way to share it. That part isn't my favorite part of the process because for me it is the "process" where I find the most joy. I know, I KNOW artists need to be business people as well as artists, but I have to "work" at this part. People are always asking me "what will you DO with that after you make it?" And, I do go through a head and heart process...can I share this yet? Can I let go of it yet? Do I need to keep it around because it is still teaching me something? Is this project really done? Does this go right to the Galerie? Does it hang here at my house? Do I share this with people I love at church? Do I give it away to someone special to me? Will this piece never see the light of day- was it "just for me and God only"?
But, after a certain time-each piece or page has a different time span- it seems I'm finally in the place where I can really let it go. And, once I'm there, it really doesn't "matter" to me where it ends up...oh, I know it should. I KNOW I need to "protect" my work, market it wisely, store it safely, but to be honest, I'm letting go of all that control more and more. If someone else is blessed by my marks, by my color left on the path, great, but it is not what motivates me. Maybe that's the heart of what I'm trying to say. I've finally gotten to the point with my art that it is not the "where this will end up" or "who will someday SEE this" that motivates me, it is that I can't help myself from making it, from saying whatever it is that my brush or pen needed to say. It's been a long time in coming and it feels...well, it feel oh so right.