Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Copyright 2007 Melynda Van Zee

My wish for you today is that you are able to see-to really see the "beauty of it all". It is so hard in our world to take the time and the space to really soak in the beauty that surrounds us-the beauty in our families, the beauty of our friends, the beauty of nature and the beauty of ourselves. Take the time today to soak in the blessings of your life. Write a list of 5, or 10, or 25 or 100 "Things I am Grateful for..." Turn that list into a scrapbook page or just tack it to your frig, or tuck it in your journal so that 5 years from now you can look back and remember the blessings of today. You heart may heal in the the process and your focus may shift from the immediate troubles of today to the things that are really important.

With Passion,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Get Inspired Scrapbooking Event

Things I'm excited about RIGHT NOW!

1.These photos from the Get Inspired Scrapbooking Event held in Clive, IA last weekend. We had a blast. They had a great set up-my friends who came to scrap for the day were sitting at the tables right in front of my vendor booth so I could sit and paint/demo, while they sat and cropped. What a better day can a girl have than having best friends and my mom all scrapping, shopping and painting together! I taught a class, demonstrated a variety of paints and techniques and featured some of my new prints.

2. Oh YES! talking about new of my fondest dreams has come true! Gorgeous printing has come to my house-the HP Photosmart Pro B8350. It prints 13 x 19!!! So the first day I have it in the studio, I printed a batch of 4 x 6 photos to give to my girlfriends (photo proof of our girlfriends weekend in Independence, MO-let's just say it involved tatoos-airbrush of course, crafting out of a Uhaul on the side of the street, and waaaayyyy toooo many late nights and sugared pecans). I also printed signs for my vendor booth, a gorgeous 12 x 12 digital layout for a Leadership Class I am taking, and over 30 prints of my original art. It was a tad bit amazing that I managed to get that all done on my first day of printing. Plus-the prints turned out better than I imagined-to be able to print archival quality fine art prints at home-well, I've been waiting for this day for a long time!

3. Sidewalk chalk soaked in water. Simple things make me happy, too. A group of us created a Call to Worship on the sidewalk leading into our church. We soaked the chalk in water and-oooh! I felt like a kid again (although when I was a kid they would of NEVER let us decorate the front of church with chalk!)

4. Scrapbook store shopping...I went BY MYSELF for almost an hour Friday night and browsed...saw the new Creative Cafe stuff, bought some Basic Grey, Cosmo Cricket, Scenic Route background collection, a bit of Hambly, KI Memories 12 x 12 black swirl cut outs, some Doodlebug black chipboard alphabet and a Bo Bunny chipboard alpha with some cute swirls. I needed that trip-needed to browse-needed to touch-needed to just wander and think about the possibilities...

5. OK-I really wanted to wait-spread out the fun with these, but I just can't so... here is the first of my latest series of watercolors. I created 95 6 x 6 originals that all answer the question..."In my future life..."


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Red Rock Arts Alliance Studio Tour

The first ever Red Rock Arts Alliance Studio Tour will be held this Saturday from 10-4. I will be at the Galerie of Pella talking about my work- I'm planning on bringing along paint, gels, tools, and works in progress. Come with your questions or simply come to soak up all of the beautiful art featured in the Galerie. I'd love to have you stop in for a chat-actually I'm kind of jealous I have to stay in one spot and can't travel around to the other studio's to see what is going on. There are several sites in Knoxville and even artists available at the Tassel Ridge Winery.

Other things I'm consumed with right now...

A watercolor concept piece I'm working on as contribution to our church's "Wonder Wall". The Wonder Wall is a place for artists, writers, photographers, any artists to bring art to church that explores a recent "Ah-ha" moment or a time you were struck by the beauty of God in daily life. Can't wait until it all comes together.

I'm scrapbooking again...I've been in a hiatus of sorts the last few weeks. Been exploring more with paint and an art journal, but today I started putting photos and painted paper and stickers and fiber and journaling together-on one page. WOW-what a rush! I remembered all over again why I love to scrapbook-the powerful combination of word, photo and paint-it can take my breath away-especially when it brings me right back to the place and time I am scrapbooking about. I relived the moment in the garden in Hawaii-taking photographs with my eldest son-walking through the beds of hibiscus flowers-the dretched in color blooms, the fragrance, the sharing it with him and watching him photograph the experience. Giving him the camera and watching as he "really saw" and "really experienced" the place with me through the lens of the camera. I watched as he "got it" as he went from flower to flower consumed with getting it on film. I knew then that just a little bit of me had broken through-I had "corrupted him" as only a mother can-a bit of my love of art and seeing breaking through to my linear thinking, football loving, math guru son.

His award winning shot titled "Hibiscus & Bee"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The world was so beautiful...

It's been a month since my baby stepped up the stairs into the big yellow bus. I'm finally able to ponder it, absorb it, wrap my brain around what life really looks like now that we both have taken new steps. A dear friend sent me this card the first week of school and it put into words what could not even verbalize at the time.

We are in a new place. A new season. Full of challenge. Full of joy. Full of surprise and new opportunities. I'm not sure what it will look like-for either one of us, but I do know that it will be OK. I want to tell him...

"just concentrate on the next step"
"don't try to conquer it all in one day"
"this is only the beginning"

but, I know it's more for me than him. He has no fear at this point-only anticipation, only joy at finally being able to claim his place. "All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten..."

(If you love the artwork featured on this card as much as I do, check out the website of artist Brian Andreas. You can sign up for the daily email of Story People with a new story each and everyday. Story People

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What's next?

I have a table full of tulip collage paintings. I've been painting these tulips for about a year and a half now. I did a whole rash of these paintings a few weeks ago. I seem to work in spurts- for a few days watercolors happen all over the place, then tulips, then scrapbook pages, then I hang some new stuff around the house, then a random acrylic painting happens, then an idea for a new class.

What is up with this??? I wish sometimes I could just "settle", just decide what I "do" and then "do" it. Wouldn't that be nice, wouldn't that be tidy. I could sum it up and say "This is MY art. This is what I 'am known for'. This is my 'style'." How easy to be able to clearly define exactly who I am and what it is that I do. I am a painter of tulips. I am a teacher. I am a scrapbooker. I am a photographer. Well-I AM all of those. If I think about this too much, it could drive me to distraction.

But, when I study the life and art of other artists, I start to realize I'm not the only one. Grant Wood, known for his paintings, but when I visited the exhibit of the vastness of his life work I saw wood working, metal work, carpentry, a scrapbook, murals, charcoal sketches and...paintings. I am reminded of my high school guidance counselor who told me "Melynda you would die working on a factory assembly line. The repetition of the same thing day in and day out would be the end of you." Maybe it is that way with art making as well. If I do the same sort of art day in and day out, I might still be in danger of dying a slow creative death. I can tell...I'm needing a break from tulips. Needing to do something new. Needing a breath of fresh air. Will I do tulips quite like this again? I'm not really sure right now. Maybe I'm being called to something new-being led to new discoveries in paint and surface and thought.

I've got this new art journal right now... actually it is a bit of old, melded with the new. Old painted scrapbook papers-discarded for their imperfection but a perfect backdrop for something new. I've gathered them together and started adding words-words based on the new thoughts I'm being confronted with in my new leadership class. Old/new, fresh/tired, tradition/change, past/future, production/creation, conflict/resolution, invitation/response, problem/solution-the backbone of art.

I don't think I want to live any other way...

Old Friends New Memories

There is nothing quite so sweet as visiting old friends-the friends who "knew you when", who can start and finish your old stories, who know you in a different way than anyone else. And, when your dear friend has a beautiful new baby girl-the time together is even sweeter.

Welcome baby Camille into our lives. I knew your momma "when". Your momma and I-we have cried together-tears of hysterical laughter and tears of deep grief. We have grown together even though the miles have separated us. We have challenged each other and grown each other up.

We have seen each other develop our own unique gifts- Jen, with her gift of music and me, with my love of art. We have stood up at each other's weddings, moved across the country from each other and shared the most painful and joyful moments of our lives.

And-we are creating new memories-we scrapbooked together for the first time. Jen reading the instructions in my book to find out how we were going to paint our page. She was pouring over the book and said "the book says we should..."

I started laughing "Jen-do you need the instructions? I'm right here. I wrote the book-I think I can show you how!" That's what friends are for... I had never gotten a pedicure before-I guess I just needed someone to go with and Jen had never painted a scrapbook page before-she just needed someone to try it with and she was on the way. I could never make my path without my friends... so today- thank a friend who has made your life richer, go make new memories with an old friend (even if it means flying half way across the country), go get pedicures together, treasure the gift of friendship.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Get Inspired Scrapbooking Expo

Mark your Calendar-it's time for some INSPIRATION! Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007 at the 7 Flags Event Center (2100 NW 100th St. Clive, IA) from 9 AM to Midnight come join me for some major cropping fun. $45 all-inclusive, free lunch, supper, drinks, snacks door prizes and a "Painted Scrapbook Pages" painting class at 7:00 pm for the first 25 scrapbookers who sign up for my class. You can register for the event (and my class if you wish) at The Cozy Crop Wear website details all the vendors and teachers who will be at the event to give you a little dose of fresh inspiration. I'm definitely ready for a whole day of cropping and hanging out with my scrapbooking friends!

Monday, September 17, 2007

New work at Galerie

Molly, owner of The Galerie of Pella, came to the studio today and selected 10 new works to add to the gallery. She selected 3 fall watercolors, 3 new abstract purple pieces and 4 of my new palette knife tulips. Her gallery is located in downtown Pella (725 Franklin St.) next to Jaarsma Bakery.

I will be at The Galerie of Pella demonstrating my collage tulip techniques and talking about my work during the Red Rock Arts Alliance Studio Tour on Sat. Oct. 13 from 10-4. Please stop by to see the amazing collection of Iowa artists and beautiful art featured in the gallery.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Sorry for the "little"-OK... looooonnnnnngggg blog break. It sounds trite to say "I've been busy" but the truth is that I have been doing, doing, going and going with so much amazing stuff... It a good thing I love to travel!!! We have had friends and family members graduating, getting married, and having babies and we have relished celebrating with you all! I needed to take a break from a few things (my blog being one) and rejuvinate-focus on new places, new art, new thoughts, new experiences, and it has been an amazing ride!

We've been to Orlando, Pella's own Tulip Time, Sioux Center, Hawaii, Chicago, the Iowa State Fair, San Jose (CA) and Kansas City since March-making memories each step of the way. I've got LOTS of scrapbooking to do (the boys are back in school now and I have nowhere to go for some time...)

A few photos to catch you up...

Spring Break In Orlando with Grandpa & Grandma

June-Kyle & Caitlin's Wedding Day Oahu, Hawaii

The reception was on the beach-a gorgeous night

Our 1st trip to Hawaii (I CAN'T WAIT for the 2nd, 3rd...)

The boys all decked out in their Hawaiian shirts

The great thing about traveling is that there are so many amazing photo opportunities. It refreshes my creativity and fills my spirit. I will keep posting this week until we get "caught up". More photos and "art news" on the way...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gallery hopping

I took a bit of time to go search out some galleries "NEW" to me. I've read about them for years, wanted to go, but with 3 kids-gallery hopping just doesn't "happen". It was wonderful to MAKE it happen. I visited the Moberg Gallery on Ingersoll in Des Moines, IA-blown away by Wendell Mohr's new abstract paintings. I've studied under Wendell for 2 summers learning his experiemental watercolor techniques, but, to see his new direction-doing a NEW thing at "80+ years old"-what an example to me. That's what I want to be like at 80-teaching and painting and still DOING art. I also visited the Olson-Larsen Galleries and saw their current "Figurative Show". I was especially draw to the work of Priscilla Steele. Her large scale figures were amazing-the glazes, the texture and pigment used to create the figure-so rich, so beautiful.

After gallery hopping, I headed to a scrapbook store-wandered around the aisles-looking for something NEW-something I had to have. For the first time in a long time, nothing came home with me. What is up with that? Something about being immersed in the fine art world and then the scrapbook world-it was unsettling to me. I love to scrapbook, but it seems more clear to me than even before that I want more from my books. I want more than "theme stickers'. I use them but I want more. I want more than simple, graphic lines. I want more than precut letters. I know that many people need and use these-I'm just saying that for me-I'm becoming more driven to use my own art supplies, use my own designs, make my scrapbooks really look like me.

The weather here is finally gorgeous after weeks of storms, missed vacations due to cancelled flights, ice, snow and being forced inside. I opened the windows yesterday and let the fresh air in. Fresh air in my house and fresh air in my soul.

I did lots of work at church yesterday. Good things-not easy mind you, but necessary. Good is not always easy in this life, in fact, I know that I often learn the most during the most difficult times. So much going on at church-deep, good, life transforming things.

I'm heading out to the gym, and birthday lunch with girlfriends. I've got some finishing up to do on my newest paintings-can't wait to show you, but it's "still a work in process". I'm working on so many things-spring is here and time to renew the gallery with new works. Time to fill my books with new pages. Time to clean my house...but that's another story I'd really rather NOT talk about today!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

too busy creating

My Painting Partner-
"Do you want to be an artist when you grow up?"
"Mom-I'm ALREADY an artist-I don't have to wait until I'm grown up"
Drew-age 4

I go through "creativity phases". Sometimes, I have literally 4 or 5 or to be honest 10+ painting/art projects going on at one time. Today, the kitchen table is covered with 9 12x12 canvases-an abstract piece I have wanted to do for a long time. I started with the idea I would hang it in my kitchen/dining room-totally don't think this is the right place now. I love how projects take on a life of their own. I simply need to get the paint on the canvas and then see where it goes. I have over 15 watercolor pieces that are in various stages of completion-all different sizes-some abstract, some cool new tulips unlike any I have painted before. I have a large canvas sketched out and ready to start applying paint-it is a semi-abstract piece with very bold shapes. I have a plastic drawer piled with over 10 scrapbook pages I want to create for my son's album. I've pulled the paper and photos and they are just waiting for me to pull it all together. Then, there is the stack of 5 x 7 black gessoed canvases waiting for me to turn into collaged tulip creations. Oh-and the stack of 5 x 7 frames waiting for a new photographs to deliver to the gallery. Plus, there are certain areas of my house that really need some attention, but when the paint is flowing, it is hard to break to cook supper, go to Parent-teacher conferences, or even go to the gym. I want to do all those things on the days when I just can't seem to paint, when I just can't get the brush on the paper, but when I'm in the "flow", totally undisturbed, I love days like that, but they just don't "happen" here often. Real life gets in the way-and I thank God everyday for this "real life" of mine. If my real life wasn't going on each and every day, I would have a hard time making real art. Art that speaks from my life-unbalanced, crazy, imperfect, questioning, real, out-of-my control, but totally and gloriously mine! Thank you God for today-for being in control of the daily-ness of it all and in control of my future.

You know I've really been contemplating creating one of those visual life boards where you cut photos out of magazines and tape them up. Prop it up in the studio to motivate you. It helps one to visualize the future and set goals to get there. Another way of getting at the whole SECRET thing, Oprah and the world seem to be talking about right now. Actually, I've been feeling GUILT because I haven't done such a thing. If I'm not visualizing, I won't get there. If I'm not planning and dreaming, it isn't going to happen. If you don't see it, you won't acheive it thing. MIND GAMES-artists are really, really good at these.

But, I'm crossing this OFF my "to do" list. I've turned it all over to someone bigger, someone who actually knows, and someone who can actually make whatever happen happen. I'm going to keep doing what the Spirit tells me to do for the day and leave the "great big unknown outcome" up to Him. Takes the huge load off my shoulders and gives me the freedom to create. It's great to be free.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Everything NEW & Strategy #6 Make Lists

I know we are almost one month into the new year, but I couldn’t make myself post about my thoughts for the NEW year until I had lived with them for a while. The NEW year kind of sneaks up on me every year. I’m so absorbed with the Christmas season and everything that comes with it, that by the time the NEW year hits I need a bit more time to really analyze what my NEW year is going to look like. Now you might be wondering why I am capitalizing the word “NEW”. You see I decided to make NEW my word of the year. On her blog Ali Edwards challenged everyone to come up with one word they could focus on for the year. I liked the concept because of its simplicity. Last year, in the excitement and “resolution” phase of the year, I wrote a personal mission statement, created a layout of it and hung it in my studio. I put that mission statement on the front page of my portfolio and look at it anytime I’m faced with a new opportunity or new direction. “Does it fit me?” “Is this the way I should go?” But this year, one word… and the word “NEW” popped into my head immediately, Funny, but I couldn’t even make myself tell anyone. It was as if I needed some time to try it out and see if I could really accomplish all the new stuff spinning around in my brain-so much to try and so much NEW to do. This month has been amazing. I should have been posting all along, but sometimes you just need to live life and write about it later!

Now, I’ve also been promising to add to my “Scrapbooking Strategies” list and in light of that promise…I present…Strategy #6 MAKE LISTS

Make lists…lists of things to do, lists of things you want to try, lists of things that have happened, lists of things you love, lists of people you want to meet and places you want to go…

And, so my current list of everything NEW...

NEW Things

1. Took a NEW class. My first ever online digital scrapbooking class was “Brushworks” by Renee Pearson at Big Picture Scrapbooking. I have a few things to finish up, but I learned so many useful things. It was a the perfect "next step" for my digital scrapbook skills.

2. Learned a NEW skill- I enlisted my hubby’s help, borrowed some major power tools from a good friend, and after 3 or 4 phone calls to a favorite artist friend- I successfully created my first four “built from scratch” canvases. We built the frames from 1 x 4s, added corner round with a nail gun, assembled them and stretched the canvas. Actually, 3 are already painted!!!

3. NEW experiences- I did my first book signing at a Barnes & Noble. Talk about a dream come true. Had some great gals take my scrapbooking class. We were right up in front of the store-sat and looked out of the huge B & N front windows.

It was fun to chat with the random people who stopped by and to share in the day with friends and family who made the trip to West Des Moines (even in a snowstorm!)
And, I survived my first LIVE TV interview—did I mention it was LIVE!?!On the Wed. before my book signing, the local ABC affiliate-Channel 5- asked me to bring some of my work and share it during a mid-day broadcast. Definitely a NEW experience!

After the interview I came home to flowers from some of my favorite people!!! Drew KNEW mommy loved PINK and he picked out the carnations (with Grandma's help of course!) Two of my best girlfriends sent these beautiful gerber daisies. It's such a blessing to have such supportive friends and family!

4. NEW camera- Enjoying my tiny new Olympus point and shoot. It just slips into my purse and goes everywhere with me. So very easy to use! Now if I can just figure out the best way to organize all these photos I’m taking!

5. NEW family vacation destinations-I’m sooooo excited about this. You see I LOVE to travel and this year we are going to be so blessed with 2 family vacations-to ORLANDO and HAWAII!!! This is so amazing because you have to understand our kids have never had the opportunity to fly (I guess I have to take that back-my oldest did fly to my brother’s wedding at 16 months old). We haven’t taken a huge family vacation for a long time. So, Disney World and a family wedding in Hawaii-the planning has already begun.

I think this list might make a great scrapbook page!

I decided not to head to CHA this week. I’m missing seeing my friends, the excitement and all the new product, but I think there are times when the “quiet whisper” inside me says, “It is time for NEW things”. I’m listening for those NEW things and making the time necessary for my creativity to do what comes next. I can’t wait to show you all the NEW things I’ve been creating, and some NEW products I’ve been playing with. I hope this inspires you to bring a bit of NEW into your life today.