Posts in Category: Studio

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!

New “Color Studio” Reveal

Artist Melynda Van Zee's new "Color Studio" reveal

Artist Melynda Van Zee’s new “Color Studio” reveal

Dear Creative Heart,

Last summer we moved to new community due to my husband’s new job. A part of that journey was moving away from a community that my husband and I had been a part of for over twenty years. Now, one of the great things about our move is that we did not move terribly far away so we are able to go back frequently to see friends and family. One of the other great things about our move has been my new spaces. The last few months have found me not only settling into our new home, but setting up new places to create and store my artwork. In the photo above, you see a peek inside what I like to call my “color studio”. This is where I do most of my actual painting. The natural light is fabulous for doing all my vibrant color work.

When I was a child I used to spend Sunday afternoons curled up in front of our sliding glass door reading a book. I loved soaking up the warmth of the light streaming through the huge pane of glass-I guess I’ve never outgrown that love of light. This room is definitely one of my happy places. Just opening the door, walking in, and soaking up the sunshine inspires me. Of course, I’m not quite as motivated when the sun is not shining or the Iowa temperatures have dipped into the freezing zones. One of the other challenges of this room was…the beautiful, spotless carpet…who could think about painting on that?!? So this fall, after thinking about it for quite awhile, I purchased a large canvas style drop cloth (complete with plastic liner on the reverse side). At some point quite a while ago, I had seen a photo of an artist who created a floor cloth covered with squares. In the squares she added favorite quotes. I loved this idea, but I’m not much of a “square” girl, so I decided to grab a Sharpie and fill my floor cloth with circles. (I promise this train of thought is going somewhere…)

Circle Compositions

Circle Compositions

Sharpie on canvas floor cloth

Sharpie on canvas floor cloth

More Circle Compositions

More Circle Compositions

And, now from that one random act of creativity, has unexpectedly grown a brand new series of work. After painting for months with these circles underfoot, I guess they started to sink deep into me. One day I picked up my cell phone and photographed small interesting compositions within the floor cloth…I studied the photos…and designed a 20 x 20 painting which I then exhibited this February at the Des Moines Women’s Club art show.

"Spillin' Beauty" Acrylic on Canvas 20 x 20 Melynda Van Zee

“Spillin’ Beauty”
Acrylic on Canvas 20 x 20 Melynda Van Zee

I played some more with the compositions and began designing small sets of paintings with this circle theme. I researched in more depth the symbolism of circles…they signify wholeness, completion, energy, eternity, the self, focus, centering, mobility, the sacred, the divine, protective boundaries. The lists go on and on about the deep and profound symbolism of the circle. And, while I am still reflecting personally on what the symbolism of the circle means to me at this point in my journey, I do know that for whatever reason, I have been intimately drawn to create them during the last few months-they seem to be such a natural continuum in my work.

A new series of Circle Compositions 6 x 6 Acrylic on Canvas Melynda Van Zee

A new series of Circle Compositions
6 x 6 Acrylic on Canvas
Melynda Van Zee

A new series of Circle Compositions Acrylic on Canvas  4 6 x 6 pieces Melynda Van Zee

A new series of Circle Compositions
Acrylic on Canvas
4 6 x 6 pieces
Melynda Van Zee

Dear Creative Heart– all that being said, I’ve reminded myself once again that sometimes what seems like a small “side project” (taking a Sharpie and drawing circles on a drop cloth) can actually turn into “the project”…the next step. Remember to look closely under your feet- your next creative project may indeed be just that close.

With Passion,


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