ARTISTS REVEAL THEIR BREAKTHROUGH WORK | MICHAEL VAN ZEYL
My painting Lo Tienes was published and exhibited in PoetsArtists Chévere and recently won the ARC Salon Rehs Contemporary Galleries exhibition prize. I will be exhibiting new paintings at the New York Gallery this fall.
My Magnolia series started when I was painting a model in my studio in profile the same day my Magnolia tree was blooming. The blooms were so beautiful and I wanted to preserve them. I was at a point where I wanted to take the look of my work from classic to more contemporary. I liked the idea of fusing figure and portrait with nature and looked to the garden of florals I had planted in my yard for inspiration. Each time I experimented with the new direction and composition I played with edges and would shift the focus to the flowers then to the figure and back again. Looking for the balance of emphasizing what is moving and what is still. I had several of these paintings in the works and completed some.
A gallerist came to my studio to pick up a painting that she had just sold. I had “Magnolia Stroll” hanging on my living room wall. Part of my process before I release my images is to live with them a while and make adjustments. I liked the direction this painting was going in but never felt it was really finished. My wife loved it and the gallerist loved it and insisted on taking it to show a client. I didn’t want to give it up but she negotiated with me for a while and she agreed that it would be returned back to me within two weeks. She had a seasonal gallery in Michigan and she left it there while she closed up for the season and left the country for the winter months. She did finally return the painting to me 10 months later and asked me to promise I would leave it untouched. I was so happy to have it back in the studio and immediately saw what it needed. I took sandpaper and removed portions and softened the edges all around the composition and repainted the face and moved around some of the blooms. I was very happy with the results and submitted it to the ARC Salon competition. I showed it to my gallery in Denver to consider for an upcoming show and they accepted it. I had planned a trip to NYC so the painting was shipped out to Denver earlier than needed. When I arrived in NYC I received an email that the painting was going to be part of the ARC Salon show and it would be purchased. The painting was in transit to the gallery so I asked the gallery for it to be returned as soon as they received it.
Within that same week I had learned through social media that the same painting was going to be on the cover of the Collectors’ edition of PA's Heightened Perceptions curated by John Seed. It went to exhibitions at the MEAM, Barcelona and to the Salmangundi Club, NY while the beautifully printed PA hard cover edition was out. Another larger version of that concept was painted and used to promote a botanicals themed exhibit Portraits, Inc. had in NYC. That larger painting is in a collection in Lake Forest, IL.
As much as I was upset with the gallerist for holding my painting for so long I don’t think this outcome would have played out the same way if the timing was any different. This experience has taught me I should trust my instinct and have faith that a great painting will get great attention.