Rob Vander Zee - Profile Photo


Robert Vander Zee is an artist, a nature enthusiast and a world traveler.  He has an unquenchable, curious mind and seeks out new ideas and experiences as he explores the world around him.

He has had an active career in the visual arts in Michigan, the Washington DC area and New York.  In 2003, Rob opened the Vander Zee Gallery and the Vander Zee School of Painting in Alexandria, Virginia.  For 15 years, Rob mentored over a hundred artists and helped many of them establish careers in painting.

Rob has organized and led many groups on educational and inspirational art trips abroad.  In recent years, he has taken groups to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Chile, France, Hungary, Austria and Croatia.  His enthusiasm for different cultures, art and the remote and wild places of the world help fuel these trips and ensure that the students will have an adventurous and fascinating experience.

In 2006, he was selected to be the “Ambassador in Arts” by the Estonian Embassy in Washington DC.  As ambassador, he toured Estonia giving lectures and demonstrations in painting.  Upon his return to the United States, he created over 30 paintings inspired by the trip and exhibited them at the Estonian Embassy.

In 2008, Rob was chosen to participate in Europe’s Centennial Celebration of the Arts in Vilnius, Lithuania.  He lectured and exhibited a series of his paintings as a part of this program.

In 2009, he was selected to be the Artist in Residence for Ecuador’s 200 year celebration of Darwin’s exploration of the Galapagos Islands.  Rob lived in Ecuador for three months while he created 25 paintings based on evolution and genetics.  His paintings were displayed as a national exhibition at Itchimbia, Ecuador’s National Cultural Institution.

In 2015, Rob was invited to Udaipur, India as the guest of the Maharajah. While there, he gave lectures and taught a group of Indian students for two weeks. He helped each student develop his own unique style in painting and worked with them to mount an exhibition of those paintings at the Udaipur Palace National Art Gallery.

Rob has exhibited his paintings in museums throughout the United States including the Pensacola Museum of Fine Arts, Florida, the William King Museum of Virginia, Ferris State University Museum, The Saginaw Art museum, Michigan, Kent State University Gallery, Ohio, The Anderson Center for the Arts, Indiana, The Charles B. Goddard Center for the Arts, Oklahoma, and the Ellen Noel Art Museum in Texas.

Rob’s paintings have been added to many private collections throughout the United States, Columbia, Denmark, Ecuador, Chile’, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain and Costa Rica.

In the spring of 2016, Rob moved back to his childhood state of Michigan to build his new art studio and home in the wilderness of the Manistee National Forest.  Surrounded by bountiful nature, he draws his inspiration from his surroundings while he continues to conduct educational seminars and inspirational trips abroad.

The Vander Zee Gallery

The Vander Zee Gallery is a unique multi-purpose art space functioning as an art studio, art gallery, and school of painting.

The original Vander Zee School of Painting opened its doors in 2005 in Alexandria, Virginia. The school is now housed in a spacious and beautiful art studio facing a lush courtyard garden in Big Rapids, Michigan.

The atmosphere of the school is one of growth, good energy, and a lot of laughter.  While the students take themselves seriously, they also enjoy each other’s company and the camaraderie that the group fosters. 

In class, each student is strongly encouraged to discover their own “inner voice” and personal style in painting.  Painting demonstrations, group critiques, critical and honest feedback, guest lecturers, and group discussions all foster an energetic atmosphere that provides a tremendous opportunity for growth for each student.

“I have a passion for education and have taught many students over the years. During that time, one thing has become abundantly clear; students thrive when I give them strong, constructive criticism while making sure I build them up with positive reinforcement.

I allow my students to struggle at times because that is how they will remember the lesson. When they stumble or come up against a wall, I am always there to pick them back up, and help them find their way again.”

Rob Vander Zee