Posts in Category: studio tour

New Realities & Renewed Beginnings

During this time of new realities we are living in, one healthy way I have found to process the changes in our culture and find my way back to my creative work is by taking frequent walks in nature. 

Ginkgo tree leaves- Photo by Melynda Van Zee
Ginkgo tree leaves- Photo by Melynda Van Zee

This spring and summer I have made repeated walks around and around the circular path of my neighborhood park planted with a wide variety of interesting trees and a small natural prairie area. 

Filtered sunlight through red bud tree blooms- Photo by Melynda Van Zee
Filtered sunlight through red bud tree blooms- Photo by Melynda Van Zee

One Saturday night this spring at the end of a challenging week, I stopped mid-walk around the park as I spied one of the wood benches. I didn’t sit on the bench, I laid down on my back sprawled across the bench-feet dangling over the arm. This is not normal behavior for me. But, I’d had it. I was overwhelmed. I closed my eyes, listened to the wind, and took a moment to just be. 

Eventually, I opened my eyes and looked up. There was a tree reaching its branches out over me. I thought “Those leaves are beautiful dancing in the wind. Are those leaves aspen leaves? Do we even have aspen trees in Iowa? I know they are prevalent across the mountains in Colorado, but here in Iowa?”

And, that train of thought led to words, and then more thoughts led to more words, leading to this poem.

Renewed Beginnings

Maybe the birds always sing at this vibrant level in the spring

Maybe the crabapple blossoms always smell this sweet

Maybe the trees always burst forth this brightly green

Maybe the breeze always brushes across my skin this freshly

Maybe the taste of grilled anything has been too overlooked

Maybe the Aspen leaves have always quaked this splendidly

Maybe my ears have not been tuned in

Maybe my eyes have grown dull by not seeing deeply

Maybe my nose has been too bent to the grindstone

Maybe my taste buds have been too quickly satisfied

Maybe my skin has been trapped inside for too long

Maybe my presence to reality has been misplaced

Maybe having the world stop for a while has allowed nature to awaken

Maybe having my world stop for a while has helped me to pay attention

Maybe having life interrupted has led me to profound observation

Maybe having new rhythms has helped me to calm incessant noise

Maybe having moments to ponder gratitude has revived empathy

Maybe having a new reality 
  is not the end of everything 
    but a shift to renewed beginnings

                      Melynda Van Zee ©2020

Unraveling Towards a New Reality

Enjoy a peek inside my studio process as I created the painting, “Unraveling Towards a New Reality.”

From sketches to multiple layers of paint to final steps of protective finish, Melynda Van Zee shows the process of creating “Unraveling Towards a New Reality”, an original commissioned work.

Here’s to shifting to new realities and renewed beginnings!
Stay well friends,


Creating a Studio Flag

Studio Flag
©Melynda Van Zee 2010

Creating a flag is an opportunity for you to use color, text, and movement to piece together a little bit of blessing for your home, family or studio. For centuries various cultures have created and flown prayer flags as a way of releasing their prayers/thoughts/images into the world. Bits of left-over canvas scraps from my studio, basic craft paints, a couple of chip brushes and a Sharpie all combined to make creating these individual pieces a snap. The tricky part for me was the sewing-this became sort of a “sewing primer” for me-a great place to learn the basics and experiment-no need for perfection here! Thanks to my patient sewing instructors-so good for me to sit and learn something new-to let someone teach me and show me the way. Wasn’t nearly as difficult as I made it out to be (although I am still not entirely prepared to deal with the whole “bobbin” thing…by myself).

1. Select random pieces of cotton canvas. Cut into shapes and lay out in desired size. I used a decorative flag I already had as a basic template for size and shape. I simply laid the decorative flag down on my studio table and placed my painted pieces on top until the design was complete.

2. Use craft paint and chip brushes to add color to canvas pieces. After one side is dry, paint reverse side.

3. A black Sharpie is a simple way to add words and designs.

4. Use a sewing machine to sew pieces together with basic and zig-zag stitches.

5. Remember to create a pocket to slide flag pole through-I also added an interior canvas tab loop that attaches to the clip on the flag pole (so your flag does not slide down).


Hopefully the flag will help those enjoying the studio tour this weekend to find my house. Click here for more info on the Red Rock Arts Alliance Studio Tour and don’t hesitate to stop by if you happen to live in my corner of Iowa.