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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Day After Election Day 2016

Well, not much to say right now except tomorrow is another day. God Bless America.

"Lest We Forget" by Monica Vanzant

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Recommendation 1 - "Creative Workshop" by David Sherwin

I was at my local library and was leaving when I saw the book. I think it caught my eye because it was so colorful. It was called “Creative Workshop” by David Sherwin. I looked at the back cover, scanned through it and was hooked. I checked it out. When I got home, I immediately started reading my new design bible. The author Mr. Sherwin has brilliantly put together 80 design challenges to teach and motivate you into learning about maximum creativity.

 So, first let me tell you what happened and why I think this book is so awesome. I read the first challenge and knew there was no way I was going to be able to complete it within the 30-minute time frame given. I decided to give myself the best advantage by using the tools provided by Mr. Sherwin in the Introduction. Well, long story short - I did it! One of my main challenges is coming up with ideas within a given time frame. There are times I have an idea but it might take days/weeks to flesh it out on paper. So this exercise showed me that with practice I can hone my design skills in all areas of my life and for that I will be forever grateful to this talented author.

Moving on, I got a little busy after the first Challenge and had to renew the book. I worked on Challenge two, finished it and again ran out of time before I could start the next challenge so I decided to do myself a favor and just buy the book. So now I am working on each challenge and having a great time learning new things. One thing that I found particularly helpful were the techniques Mr. Sherwin provided to help with time management and structuring your ideas, such as:

Time Boxing – Allocating a time period for each activity.
Mind Mapping – Using a diagram to visually organize information.
Word Listing – Using words to visually organize information.
Picture Association – Using pictures to visually organize information.
Brute Thinking - Using attributes attached to random words or pictures to find an association.

There is so much more and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. This book should be used to teach students how to create and document concepts on the clock and it is not just applicable to art.

Think Creatively!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury England

Two weeks after September 11, I traveled to England. One of the towns on my list of places to visit was Shaftesbury England, specifically, Gold Hill. I stood on the hill after a two hour train ride and only hours after I first set foot in England. This steep hill had the most beautiful cottages and I was so happy to have made it! When I got home, I wrote this poem about it. I hope to one day see it again.

Gold Hill – Shaftesbury, England

By: Monica Vanzant

A quiet moment on a hill
of man made stone and crafted skill
I stand in awe, my mouth agape
Amazed at finding heaven's gate
For what I see is beauty wide
My soul is full and swells with pride
A scene with cottages askew
All shapes and colors, none are new
Atop a hill in Shaftesbury

Broad images that touch my soul
I wonder at their stories told
A long walk down, I stand and sigh
This journey will my strength defy
But I must go, I know that now
Way down Gold Hill I do avow
And so I start my trek downhill
The easiest part and needs no skill
Atop a hill in Shaftesbury

With little breath and steady heart
From this long hill I do depart
Some happy greetings come my way
From friendly locals I survey
Their nods and smiles at me so sweet
I'm more surprised each one I meet
Three times I hear, “It looks like rain!”
I find myself refreshed again
Atop a hill in Shaftesbury

With shaking legs and beaming smile
I look up at my traveled mile
Well not a mile but it feels so
The distance from that place I know.
From awe to dread I pick my way
O'er cobbled roads where children play
For now I know the time has come
To turn again, so I succumb
Atop a hill in Shaftesbury

With labored breath, I start my walk
My legs move slowly as they mock
My foolish pride that drives them so
Beyond the length they want to go
But on I push to higher ground
Until the top is once more found,
With gods good grace I have my end!
Up steep and winding path to wend,
Atop a hill in Shaftesbury

My panting breath comes back to me
As I turn back and there I see
That I have filled my latest dream
I've walked up THE GOLD HILL - I deem,
As sure as rain will come today
I know I will return and stay
For though my own land's miles gone past
It feels as though I'm home at last
Atop a hill in Shaftesbury

Monday, August 22, 2016

Visit Me At - Arts In The Park 2016

I will be participating in Arts In The Park this year at the historic Smithville Mansion this year and I am so excited! Please join me and other artists on Sunday, September 11, 2016. I will be accepting pre-orders for selected prints and the originals will be there for viewing. Look forward to seeing you there!

Historic Smithville Mansion
803 Smithville Rd, Eastampton Township, NJ 08060
Sunday, September 11, 2016 - Bring the Family Rain or Shine!
10:30am - 4:30pm
Click for Flyer Info

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Quick Word About My New Painting, "Death Of The Charity Box"

Oil on Board 

I saw a donation box one day and incorrectly assumed it was a charitable donation box. But as I kept looking at it I realized it was actually a donation box from a company that collects and resells used items. I did a little research and apparently there are quite a few of these companies that use these boxes for commercial retail purposes (they come in multiple colors). I am assuming that most, if not all, of these companies are legal, but somehow this just seems...wrong. And judging from the hits I received after I researched, I am not alone.

Now, I am not saying you should not give items to these companies (after all, everyone's gotta make a living), but I would ask that if you are donating items for the purpose of giving to charity please make sure that you read these boxes carefully to ensure that your donations are being used for the purpose you intended.

Think Creatively!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Limiting Your Brushstrokes May Just Increase Your Creativity

I was talking to a young artist the other day and she said that she was having a problem with an oil painting. She said she kept painting the same area over and over again until the paint was too thick and she had to scrape it off and start over. Oh, how I remember this problem! I went through this same thing when I first started painting. Not only is this frustrating, because you have obviously lost your original concept (or maybe you never had one to begin with) but this also gives your paintings a tight or overworked look.

I told her about a fun challenge that I came up with to help me.  

Start with a small sketch and pick a certain number of brushstrokes it will take to complete it and try to stay within that number to finish it. Simple! For example - if you only had ten brushstrokes to finish a small landscape do you think you might be a little more conservative with your choices? Most definitely. You could also, of course, try this with bigger paintings and you might not always finish within the estimated number but I believe it does help the artist to focus on what is important. This little exercise helped me to make every brushstroke count and to stop “torturing” my artwork. Good Luck!

Think Creatively!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Is Our Society Lost?

I usually only write about art on this blog but I have been watching entirely too much TV news lately and felt the need to post this piece I wrote years ago. Besides, as an artist, I am allowed to occasionally be whimsical.

Think Creatively!

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Our world seems to be on the brink of a major transformation. A kind of energy is brewing just beneath the surface that may signify change on a massive level. Can you feel it? I am not referring to changes in global environment, nor the recent powerful upheavals of Mother Nature. I am talking about us, human beings and our thoughts and actions as a collective society.
We have moved into the information age at an incredible speed. Knowledge is literally at our fingertips, yet as a people we have not grown spiritually as rapidly as we have technologically. I am not talking about theology here. When I say spiritual, I mean working on our minds and hearts to evolve into better human beings and using this knowledge to advance society to a greater level of humanity. Though more physically connected through numerous electronic devices we seem much less emotionally connected. It is almost as though we had to make a choice between external stimulation and internal personal growth and the iPod won.
War, genocide and amazingly unbelievable greed – traits that have destroyed previous societies still live with us today. Possessing moral character seems secondary to living a self-fulfilled life, as if we must give up one to have the other.
A colleague and I were having a conversation one day and she said “The Holocaust could never happen again. We’re too evolved now...”
A deep, deep sigh from the bottom of my soul escaped me and I said, “Do me a favor. Google D-A-R-F-U-R and then let’s pick this conversation up later.”
A dyed-in-the-wool realist, I know that “paradise” is only another word in the “P” section of the dictionary. I am not predicting some fantastic utopia where we are all barefoot, wearing robes, growing our own food and greeting each with daisies. Nor am I arrogant enough to make yet another “startling” end-of-the-world prediction just because I fear the current state of affairs. But I believe, absolutely, that we must build our future using a solid foundation of what not to repeat from the past.
Do I believe that this is the end of us as a society? Of course not! I believe this is just the beginning. I believe in the power of wisdom, compassion and strength of character, and I do not feel that I’m alone. I sense the energy of those who, like me, burn to leave this world a better place than they found it. I feel a turning point has been reached in the evolution of our world and I hope this will continue. Maybe we can come up with a color to signify that we are going to treat our fellow man more considerately, compassionately and fairly. Maybe we can call it “going blue” and wear ribbons that signify our unity of purpose. Yes, this may sound silly, but I think you get my point.
Leaving a legacy of honor and a sense of purpose can last so much longer than a trust fund.
With so much yet to learn, we are still, as a race, in our infancy. To put this in perspective, if the world is really billions of years old, it could take a hundred, maybe even a thousand lifetimes before we finally “get it right”. Our possibilities are limited only by our thinking. Each generation has a chance to do better than the last. And even though we can not count on future generations to mend everything that we have broken, we should expect them to make the effort and should prepare them to succeed.
As human beings on a seemingly endless road towards emotional and spiritual self-discovery, we must remember and cherish the good of what was, enjoy that which is and optimistically look forward to what can be. This is how I feel that we will evolve as a people and as a society.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

De-Stress With 10 Minute Meditation

Please enjoy this 10 minute relaxation exercise from the website On Being.

Have a Creative Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Drawing Tools of Leonardo da Vinci


I saw a short but interesting video on Leonardo da Vinci's drawing materials on the Royal Collection website. Enjoy.

Think Creatively!


Lily - "The Icon Prize" Finalist

A huge thank you to Lane Von Herzen, author of "The Unfastened Heart" and the Icon Prize committee for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful project.


Set To Music...

Creation of still life "The Two No One Wanted"

Fine Art Paintings by Monica Vanzant

Video of Black and White Photographs

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Video Skyscape - Heavens V

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Video Skyscapes - Heavens IV

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To learn more about the singing/songwriting duo Elise Bellew and Blake Ryan and or to purchase their music please visit

Video Skyscape - The Heavens

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Video Skyscape - Heavens I

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