Rob Vander Zee


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 in Florida, the William King Museum of Virginia, Ferris State University Museum and The Saginaw Art museum of Michigan, Kent State University Gallery in Ohio, The Anderson Center for the Arts in Indiana, The Charles B. Goddard Center for the Arts in 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

Rob has the aesthetic knowledge and skills to teach any painting style. He uses his “9 Elements of Masterful Painting” guidelines to help students understand what the fundamental building block elements are in painting. Students have traveled from as far away as India and South America to take his painting courses. His expertise and experience are highly sought after and he guarantees successful growth for students who are willing to do the focused work it takes to become good artists. Many of his students have loyally taken classes from him for years and have seen tremendous growth in their work and their understanding of art history and painting techniques.

Testimonials from students

If you’re interested in taking one of Rob’s classes or seminars, please go to the Homepage to see Rob’s contact details or fill out the “Contact Me” form.

The Resume’

Solo Exhibitions


  • Visions of Paradise, Ellen Noel Art Museum, Odessa, TX September- (November 2015)
  • Visions of Paradise, Kent State University, School of Art – Downtown Gallery, Kent, OH, (January-February 2013)
  • Visions of Paradise, The Anderson Center for the Arts, Anderson, IN, October – (December 2012)
  • Visions of Paradise, Ferris State University- Rankin Art Gallery, Big Rapids, MI, (September-October 2012)
  • Visions of Paradise, Charles B. Goddard Center for Visual and Performing Arts, Inc., Ardmore, OK, (February – March 2012)
  • Visions of Paradise, William King Museum, Abingdon, VA, (July – November 2011)
  • Visions of Paradise, Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL, (February – May 2011)
  • Visions of Paradise, Itchimbia National Cultural Institute, Quito, Ecuador (2009)
  • Tallin Academy of Art, Tallin, Estonia, (September 2005)
  • Saginaw Art Museum Saginaw, MI, (December 1998)


  • Glacial Flow, Philip Morton Gallery, Rehoboth Beach, DE, (June 2014)
  • The Male Form, Vitruvian Gallery, Washington, DC, (October 2011)
  • Terra Incognita, Philip Morton Gallery, Rehoboth Beach, DE, (July 2011)
  • L’Oreal Corporate Headquarters, Solon, OH, (May 2011)
  • Visions of Paradise, Vander Zee Gallery, Alexandria, VA (2009)
  • Sacred Earth, Mythic Body, Gallery A, Washington, DC- (November 2008)
  • Trowbridge-Lewis Gallery, Middleburg, VA- (June 2008)
  • Reverent Earth, Ligne Roset, Georgetown, Washington DC, (February  – April 2008)
  • From Landscape to Abstraction, Vander Zee Gallery, Alexandria, VA, (December 2007)
  • Trowbridge-Lewis Gallery, Middleburg, VA, (May 2007)
  • Earthen, Café Asia, Arlington, VA, (November 2006)
  • Earth Force, Coldwell Banker Art 17 Gallery, Washington, DC, (September – November 2006)
  • TEMPEST, Goodwin House Gallery, Falls Church, VA- (September 2006)
  • Studio Gallery, Middleburg, VA, April – (May 2006)
  • Thos. Moser, Washington DC, January – (February 2006)
  • The Estonian Embassy, “Impressions of Estonia- (January 2006)
  • Vander Zee Gallery, Alexandria, VA- (December 2005)
  • Studio Gallery, Middleburg, VA, (November- 2005)
  • Gallery 222, Leesburg, VA, (October- 2005)
  • Artemisia Gallery, Old Town, Alexandria, VA- (November 2003)
  • Artemisia Gallery, Old Town, Alexandria, VA- (2002)
  • Barksdale Theatre Gallery, Richmond, VA- (2001)
  • Capital Square Plaza Gallery, Richmond, VA- (2000)
  • Shockoe Bottom Arts Center, Richmond, VA- (September 2000)
  • Gallery 114, East Lansing, MI- (1997)
  • Gallery 114, East Lansing, MI –(1996)
  • Aquinas College Gallery, Grand Rapids, MI –(1996)

Educational Seminars

During these seminars, Robert organizes and leads groups of students as they explore the various countries’ or regions’ culture and art.



  • Croatia, Austria and Hungary (2015)
  • Portugal and Spain (2014)
  • Japan (2013)
  • Paris, France (2012)
  • Chile (2011)
  • Venice, Italy (2009)


  • New York (2014)
  • Charleston, SC (2010)
  • Santa Fe, Mexico (2009)
  • New York (2008)
  • Chicago (2007)


  • AIM -Artists in Middleburg- (October 2015)
  • Exploring the Surface, Rehoboth Art League- (May 2015)
  • The Figure Expressed, Vander Zee School of Painting- (January 2015)
  • AIM- Artists in Middleburg- (November 2014)
  • The Nine Elements of Masterful Painting, Rehoboth Art League- (June 2014)
  • Mastering the Tools of Painting, Crossroads Art Center, Richmond, VA- (June 2014)
  • Dynamic Painting Surfaces, Crossroads Art Center, Richmond, VA- (March 2014)
  • 3 Shapes: The Strongest Composition- (2013)
  • Breaking it Down – (2012)
  • Painting Portraits- (2011)
  • Glazing Techniques- (2010)
  • The Nine Elements of Masterful Painting, Crossroads Art Center, Richmond, VA- (October 2010)
  • Exploring Line and Edge– (2009)
  • The Nine Elements of Masterful Painting – (2008)

Group Shows

  • Visions of Paradise, Portsmouth Art & Culture Center, Portsmouth, VA,

(August- September 2013)

  •  Visions of Paradisse Norfolk, VA, (2013)
  • Visions of Paradise, Ferris State University – Rankin Art Gallery, Big Rapids, MI,

(September – October 2012)

  •  Rob Vander Zee & Gary Fisher, Philip Morton Gallery, Rehoboth Beach, DE, (July 2012)
  •  Visions of Paradise, Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida, Panama City, FL, (June – August Mykolas Zilinskas Art Museum, Kaunas, Lithuania (2009)
  • Visions of the American Land, Arka Gallery, Vilnius, Lithuania (2009)
  • Art Attack Gallery, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2008)
  • Beyond Nature Gallery 222, Leesburg, VA, (September 2007)
  • Plan B Gallery Three Person Show, Washington DC, (July 2007)
  • Trowbridge-Lewis Gallery Group Show, Middleburg, VA, (July 2007)
  • Reston Art Center Juried Show, Reston, VA, June (2005)
  • Greater Reston Arts Council Juried Exhibition Reston, VA (2005)
  • Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, VA, Juror: Valerie Watson (2001)
  • Traveling Exhibition, Republic of Georgia, (2000-2001)
  • Saginaw Art Museum Juried Exhibition Saginaw, MI, Best of Show- (1997)
  • Deschideti USA (Open the Door), asa Matei, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Fall- (1997)

Selected Bibliography


  • Aprahan Times, India- (October 2015)
  • Banswara Kesri, India- (October 2015)
  • Jal Rajasthan, India- (October 2015)
  • Rashtradoot, India- (October 2015)
  • Udalpur Express, India- (October 2015)
  • Dainik Navjyoti, India- (October 2015)
  • Dainik Bhaskar,  India (October 2015)
  • Udalpur Plus, The Times of India, (October 2015)
  •  La belleza de una mutacion Artes culturales, La Hora, Quito, Ecuador (October 11, 2009)
  • Amerikietiski peizazai Nemunas (Kaunas) Vilnius, Lithuania, (2009)
  • Spalvota kelione i Virdzinijos valstija  Kauno diena (Kaunas) Vilnius, Lithuania (2009)
  • Georgian television, Interview with Rob Vander Zee, (2000)


  • WZZM News 13, Interview with Rob Vander Zee, (2013)
  • Wild, Wide Worlds Collide DC Magazine, (December 2009)
  • Shimmering Light Washington Home and Design Magazine, (Fall 2007)
  • Evoking a Mood American Art Collector, (October 2007)
  • Wild about the Arts Alexandria Times, (September 2007)
  • The Elements of Beauty The Mount Vernon Gazette, (May 2006)
  • Arlington Independent Media, Interview with Rob Vander Zee, (April 2006)
  • A Spirited Dialogue Elan Magazine, (November 2005)
  • Adelphia Media, Interview with Rob Vander Zee, (September 2005)


  • Michigan State University MFA, 1998
  • Aquinas College BFA, 1994

Museum Collections

Museum holds Vander Zee’s work as a part of their permanent collections.

  • Quito Contemporary Art Museum of Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador, 2009
  • Mykolas Zilinskas Art Museum, Kaunas, Lithuania, 2009

Corporate Collections

  • Remington Trust Headquarters, Wilmington, DE
  • Media General Headquarters, Richmond, VA
  • AE7 International Architecture Firm, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Wilmington Trust Company, Wilmington, DE
  • The Wilmington Family Office, Inc., Wilmington, DE