Monday, December 08, 2008

Stretch Out Your Hand

I often get the question "where do your ideas come from for your paintings?" Well, there are so many answers to that question...but, lately I have had the wonderful experience of gathering with a group of other creatives and our time together has inspired several new pieces. What is so great about this group is that they are all creative in different ways from me, but when we are together-singing, playing, praying, and creating the ideas flow in a way that I have not experienced before. It is such a great example of true community and one of my favorite places to create. This piece "Stretch Out Your Hand" was created based on a charcoal sketch I did while we were together.

One of my favorite things about showing my work is that I love to hear what others see in the piece that I may never have noticed. This piece was one where I was totally surprised to hear the responses. The great thing about art is that one piece can say so many different things to each individual who encounters it. As the artist, I can't own all the varying responses to my work, but they do fascinate me.

A technical note about this piece... Golden Fluid Acrylics have changed the way I paint. The endless combinations of texture that I can create with the fluids and the gels are going to keep me busy for some time. I'm anxious to experiment with the new Golden Open Acrylics. For those of you not familiar with the Open Acrylics-they are designed to be an acrylic that stays wet for a much longer time, replicating the experience of painting with oils. According to the many reviews I have read, it is a paint that functions different from any other paints. Golden had a reviews from several artists in their latest Just Paint.

For my Designer Friends- Anyone wanting to receive Canvas Corp (jute, rope, clothespins, paint) or Mark Richards (glitter stickers, iron-ons) product for use in designing projects for CHA or for publishing, feel free to contact or call toll free at 1-866-376-9961.

Just read:

Part of the reason for my quiet blog as of late is that I have been consumed with books. I actually put myself on a hiatus from the library a few weeks ago so that I could get some much needed projects done. Some of my latest "great reads"...

The Shack
The Gift of Being Yourself
Visual Faith

A parting shot from a fall walk at one of my favorite places in the world.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

In Progress

I titled my summer art show “Emerging” and I didn’t realize how much work emerging could be! Not only am I going through a personal time of growth and change, but also this fall I began teaching a leadership course for adults entitled “Emerging”(Year 1 from Vantage Point 3). All this deep internal focus and attention spent on teaching has caused this blog to fall a bit silent. But, what I’m realizing is the same thing happens in my creative cycle. I study, read, absorb the world around me, and then I go through a process of internally organizing all of that new input. Once I begin to sort it out, categorize and then prioritize-art and words seem to emerge. I’m beginning to see how I do that in so many parts of my life-including my art and teaching. I wish I would of taken the time to share more as I embarked on this journey, but it was important to allow myself the time and concentrated focus necessary. I’ve been feeling the urge to share for awhile-to be honest part of me has been resisting-you know how it is fun to keep a secret to yourself for awhile, but then I get to a point where the dam seems to burst. It seems hard to know where to start…

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting pieces from my show this summer at the Galerie of Pella and sharing a bit of the inspiration behind the art. The piece "In Progress" in my kitchen is at the top of the post. Had to rearrange my dining room for a time this summer so I had the room and light needed to finish this piece.


Copyright Melynda Van Zee 2008
From my artist statement: This winter I read a biography of Vincent Van Gogh. The author explained “the idea of the painter-butterfly served a personal purpose for Van Gogh as well as extending the formative debates of his Dutch theological culture. Van Gogh asked ‘How many times have I passed from the larve to the chrysalis state and to a more complete state, which…has set me on the way to achieve a new circle of metamorphosis? ‘” He wrote to a friend, “I, too, should like to know approximately what I am the larve of, myself; where will this butterfly emerge from the chrysalis?”
I, too, wonder, “Where and when will this butterfly emerge?”

New News...
I’m excited to announce I’ll be in the Canvas Corp. and Mark Richards booths at the CHA show this January. I’m going to be teaching some episodes in the Canvas booth-totally cool stuff. They have a paint that works to paint on almost anything-wood, metal, tin, etc. It’s called “Diamond Hard” Furniture, Cabinet & Trim Paint. So, I’ve been playing all over my house. Painted my old coffee table and end tables black.
Here is the "before" photo of my dear old coffee table. I had been telling friends that my "vintage" table had gone from "shabby chic" to plain old shabby. It had been needing some love for awhile.

I’ve got plans to add a coat of "Diamond Hard" Berber to this metal cabinet that was my Grandpa’s.
I’m thinking about redoing our rocking chair. It was a $20 garage sale find from 12 years ago and thinking it would look cool in my newly redecorated bedroom.
The studio is busy this time of year-finishing commissioned pieces, planning for the show, and general preparations for Christmas. I’ll post as much as I can.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Art Show

Chrysalis-Question Mark Butterfly Copyright Melynda Van Zee 2008

Here is the promised information for my upcoming art show.

“Emerging - a journey within”

Exhibit July 29- August 30, 2008

Please join us for the Artist Reception
Tuesday, July 29 from 5:30-8:00 pm
Artist presentation at 7:00 pm.
The Galerie of Pella
725 Franklin Street
Pella, IA 50219

Deep, heartfelt, inner-listening is simply hard to do. We are assaulted each day by exterior messages and demands. The constant whirl of, “should’s,” “must’s,” and, “have to’s,” is dizzying. Melynda has spent the last year focusing on a journey within - struggling for quiet – to truly hear what her own life was saying. It was at times confusing and agonizing, but also exhilarating. Expressions of her transformational journey are represented here - simple fragments of her ongoing inner work.

"Even in Darkness Light Dawns" Melynda Van Zee Copyright 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I Call You Dancer

Image Copyright Melynda Van Zee 2008

I'd rather paint 5 new pictures than concentrate on writing text about one, but I keep getting asked to put my thoughts/motivations into actual words. Sometimes I want to say..."BUT, if I could SAY it, I wouldn't have to PAINT it." So, I've simply resigned myself to trying and then being brave enough to simply share and tell what God has been teaching me.

This painting is now in the private collection of a local buisness. It is titled “I Call You Dancer”.

I am not a dancer by training. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Coordination was not high on my “gift mix” as a child. I was a klutz, legs constantly full of bruises. My dancing consisted of spinning Ice Capades moves on our basement linoleum floor in the slippers my grandma knitted for me.

Recently, I’ve been taking a deep, hard look at my life, asking myself those age-old questions of “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What does God want me to do with this one precious life of mine?” I have sifted through my life experiences, titles, labels, and positions I have held. I have wrestled with what that means for my future. In the midst of all this questioning, I was challenged to ask this question…

“Who do You say I am?”

And, so I did. I asked that dangerous question of the One who created me, the 1st Creator, the Creator of all that is truth. He answered, “I call you dancer. I look down and watch the color swirl out from you.”

I will be adding more new pieces of art over the next two weeks-all in preparation for my art show at the Galerie of Pella (Pella, IA) on Tuesday, July 29. I'll post more details soon.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I just got back from a weekend spent scrapbooking with my mom, best friend, and her mom. We've done the "go to a resort" and scrapbook for the weekend but this time we took a different route. We spread our stuff all over her mom's basement and went to work-snacking, creating, sleeping in the spare room, loosing all track of time. It was good to get away. A quiet seeps into my soul that was full to overfowing with the "stuff" of life. To focus, and create-well, it was a gift. I hadn't really scrapbooked for a long time-it was so good to play with my supplies and just create for me, because I wanted to. I didn't make incredible creations-I just put stuff down and played. Scrapbooked several years of sporting events, some of my favorite photos and well, just stuff. Today, I'm back to the routine of home-wash, kid projects, making lunch and that is all good as well, but now I have a new energy.

Sometimes I wonder why I create in so many different areas? Why do I scrapbook and paint canvases and paint watercolors and keep journals and decorative paint and teach kids and work at my church? Wouldn't it be better if I could just FOCUS?!? But, after taking a slew of personal assessments (part of a leadership class I am participating in) over the last week, I've realized this is just a part of who I am-who I was created to be. I love input-collecting ideas, techniques, thoughts, inspiration. My challenge is to simply embrace this part of who I am and not fight it and not hide it. I had a Jr. high teacher who used to always tell us we could never call anyone "weird or strange" but instead use the word UNIQUE. Here's to embracing the "unique" in me!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Simplify and Redirect

In order to look forward, we need to look back. In looking back, I have learned and now I need to take what I have learned and redirect for the future. All of this is taking a huge amount of time and energy. And, so I am simplifying. I am taking things off the plate. I am saying NO to many carrots dangling in front of me. Art "carrots" are the hardest to back away from for me. If it has to do with creativity and color or marketing and art, I HAVE TO do it, don't I?!? Well, the answer is NO. And, so I'm saying No to things which would appear to be very good things for me. The problem is they are not the great things. I don't want any more "good enough", I want to live in the great-the path that God really intended for me to be on. I've wandered quite a bit along that path lately, pursued some gravel roads I should of left alone, learned some things on some bunny trails I followed, but now I'm working on focus. I'm learning about me and it is painful, hard and time consuming. I'm confronting the things I have believed about myself that are not truth. I'm confronting the things other have told me about me that is not truth. I'm trying to live in the truth that God says about me.

Thanks for being patient with me while I walk this path. There is so much more freedom on the other end. I'm walking toward that freedom, dipping my toes back in the muck here and there, stretching myself. The whole process feels about as pleasant as getting my teeth cleaned, not easy but good-maybe healthy is a better word for it. For I know that in order to CREATE-I need to first conquer fear, in order to TEACH-I must first know, and in order to INSPIRE-I must first listen. I'm doing the work of the deep listening and knowing what my life is saying.

Right now...I have more work to do.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

All Things NEW

A NEW year, a NEW focus, and a NEW outlook…a new year is always full of anticipation and a bit of trepidation for me. December was (and always is for me) a mad dash of activity- Christmas gifts to create, Christmas programs to organize and attend, family gatherings, acknowledging so many people who make my life so rich and full and not nearly enough time in quiet reflection.

This year God seemed to make a way for the quiet and reflection. I spent several days slowed down from my usual pace because I was not feeling well. Frustrating and yet probably exactly where I needed to be. I can get so lost in the “doing” that I forget the “being”. I’m becoming better at this but it is extremely difficult-totally against my programmed Dutch “work ethic”. And, now I find myself beginning the NEW year. We had the privilege of attending the beautiful wedding of my brother-in-law Jason and his new bride Kallie over the New Year’s holiday. The time with family was so good, the time away from normal responsibilities so refreshing, and the time to talk and relax together so rare.

But, now I am back at home-faced with the responsibility of running a household, creating a calendar for the NEW year and returning to relationships and tasks to do. Last year I decided I couldn’t create an entire list of goals and objectives for the year so I just chose one word to focus on-that word was NEW. Well, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This past year was one of dramatic growth and change for me. I went places I never dreamed of going- places far away geographically and places very close to home and deep within me. I couldn’t have imagined it if I had tried. I think I will always look back on this past year as a pivotal time in my life and work.

But, now where do I go from here…that is always the question. So, what? I had a NEW year full of surprise and challenge, what could I now dare to pick as a word or direction for this upcoming year? I have always been a woman with a plan. I had 10 year plans, 5 year plans, 1 year plans, 3 month plans, plans for the week and plans for the day. I had lists of goals-personal and professional in journal after journal. I’ve read and studied business plans, visual goal setting, detailed creative “to do” lists, vision casting and on and on. What I have learned this year is that I’m throwing them all out. It seems like a very “anti-American” thing to do, very unorganized and well, down right heretical. But, I have finally learned that my plans are not always His plans, and my ways are not always His ways. I’ve turned over all my goal-setting habits. I’m striking out on a new and much riskier path-one not of my own planning. It is a terrifying and yet wonderfully exhilarating way to live.

So…there is no “list of goals for the year” and no “word of the year” in sight. But, I do have hope and peace and passion that this is EXACTLY the way I want to live my life.

Copyright 2008 Melynda Van Zee