Painting Studios Update

One of the gifts of the past year was more time in my schedule. I used some of this “extra and unexpected” time to work on a long-anticipated passion project of mine-enhancing my creative spaces.

I now have three distinct workspaces in my home designed for the variety of creative practices I do. I’d like to share with you one of my updated spaces-the painting studios. 

This is where my paintings are created. This space is all about the execution and creation of the paintings. It contains three large tables, painting supplies, work-in-progress storage, and storage of completed works. It has space for displaying finished work, a large painting wall, and room for packing work to be shipped. 

Freshly painted walls and my painting wall full of new work!

Make a PLAN

As I was planning this project, I realized that previously my studio was quite organized with all my “Art” related supplies in mostly one area. However, now I intentionally wanted to section out specific areas with specific tools for specific projects. Rather than one large general zone of “studio art supplies”, I wanted to divide the area into work zones, where I would have all the supplies I needed for whatever specific creative practice was at hand. 

My creative spaces needed deep sorting, purging, and updating for the work I was doing now.  I also was intentional about checking to see if I needed “infrastructure” to make working in the different zones comfortable. I asked myself “What were my lighting, seating, and storage needs in this space?” Then, I made lists and repurposed or purchased the needed items.

Ask for Help

With a project this big, needing skills I don’t have, I knew I was going to need help. One of the best parts of this project is that I got to work with my husband and sons to complete the bigger construction projects. We got to solve problems together, learn new skills and use new tools. Collaborating made this project something memorable.

Do the THING!

I had been envisioning, making lists, and dreaming about updating this space for a long time, and had even started bits and pieces of the project. But, there comes the point when it is time for the ACTION needed to bring a big project to completion.

This process involved long hours of painting (rolling and trimming with primer and two coats of paint on rough foundation walls), researching (how to paint metal support poles???), multiple trips to the paint store and hardware store, moving heavy furniture, and lots of painting drop cloths everywhere.  In addition, I was purging, organizing, deep cleaning, and rearranging all the things!

It wasn’t done in one day, it took months. It wasn’t all “exciting” work- more like sweat, long hours on a ladder, and lots of physical labor.

Using the Painting Studios

Using the Painting Studios

I’ve found this updated and reclaimed space has grounded my creative practices, even more, creating a container that holds my creative practice solidly and beautifully. This container of space helps me to retain my creative rhythms and helps me move more smoothly throughout the variety of creative practices I do.

I encourage you to take a hard and long look at the spaces you use for your creative practices. Who knows what you might see and how you might be inspired to try something new???

Solo Show Inner Freedom Opening Soon!

If you’d like the opportunity to see the new artwork that this updated studio space helped to birth, my new solo show, Inner Freedom, will be opening at the Ankeny Art Center on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. The show is free and open to the public from Oct 5-Nov. 24, 2021.

We’d love to have you join us at the Opening Reception on Thursday, October 7, 2021, from 5:00-7:00 pm. There will be snacks and drinks and I’ll be there to chat and answer your questions about the show. Stop by and enjoy!

It’s Launching Time!

As we launch into the fall months, I’m filled with anticipation and energy.

A few sneak peeks of what is to come…

Huge new work in process!

1. I’ve been hard at work in the studio creating so much new work for shows this fall. 

2. I’ve added a few shows to my schedule, including the Iowa Arts Festival in Iowa City, IA this weekend August 13-15, 2021.

3. We are also heading for Port Clinton Art Festival in Chicago, IL, and Peoria Arts Festival in Peoria, IL!

So much color mixing and exploring new color palettes going on in the studio!

You may also wish to mark your calendars now for my solo show called “Inner Freedom” which will be opening at the Ankeny Art Center on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. We’d love to have you join us at the Opening Reception on Thursday, October 7, 2021 from 5:00-7:00 pm. The show is free and open to the public from Oct 5-Nov. 24, 2021. 

Coterie: Cultivating Deep & Authentic Relationships

One of my newest works is titled Coterie and tells a story of relationships with color, line, and movement. I showed this piece for the first time publicly last weekend at Artfest Midwest in Des Moines, IA.

“Coterie” 60×48 Acrylic on Canvas ©Melynda Van Zee 2021

The relationships that were on my mind and in my heart as I created this piece are made up of people who have walked with me for decades. They have seen me through all the stages of life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful. These relationships are not perfect, but they have been forged over years, hundreds of conversations, and time spent together traversing our authentic, real lives.

I heard someone say recently that every painting is a self-portrait, an authentic reflection of the artist at this particular point in time. Others say a painting is a mirror to our soul. Of course, one painting can’t capture the depth, intimacy, or complexity of our human relationships, but it can speak towards deep community experiences. It can reflect the vibrant energy of the connections. It can inspire us to spend time and resources cultivating authentic relationships.

Coterie on exhibit at ArtFest Midwest in Des Moines, IA June 2021

This painting came to me in glimpses over about a year and a half time period. From the initial pencil line sketch, to pouring out the lines and finally the multiple layers of translucent acrylic paintings. 

I hope it inspires you on your journey to cultivate deep and authentic relationships.

New Studio Office & LIVE Event

I would like to share with you my new studio office. Because of my quieter schedule over the last year, I used the gift of extra time to focus on my creative spaces.

Studio Office Organization

I’m enjoying having a home for all my art business binders, art journals, art inspiration books, and my art business files. Oftentimes people think “creative types” are very disorganized. I find it enhances my creativity and efficiency with art biz jobs if I have everything at hand and I can quickly find the information I need.

Studio Office Decor

This reclaimed bedroom got a fresh new coat of paint, desk, and shelving. I intentionally decorated it with a bright wall color which draws me to the lightness of the space. Additionally, I’m able to see out of both windows while working at my computer, because the desk is placed in the center of the room. My painting Allowing the Desire hangs behind the desk, and has been enjoyed as a Zoom and FaceTime background for many virtual meetings and coaching calls. 

“Allowing the Desire” 48×48 Melynda Van Zee ©2020

My boys surprised me with a vintage typewriter for my birthday, and it found its home on top of the bookshelves. I LOVE it!

I enjoy working in this new space as I plan and organize for this upcoming year of exhibitions and shows.

LIVE Event

I’d love to have you join me at the Virtual LIVE Omaha Summer Arts Festival the first weekend in June. Anyone from anywhere can view the virtual show, and there will even be designated LIVE hours. During LIVE hours, you can visit virtually with individual artists so you could pop in and chat with me online.  More information about live hours will be published on the show website as it gets closer to the show date.

In-Person Events


You can find information here about my first two in-person art fairs scheduled for June and August. Come enjoy seeing some art in person again.

I hope you are filling your springtime with bird songs and color!