Saying “Yes” to Artistry

Saying “Yes” to Artistry

Maralee Gazelka shares her journey towards creative freedom.

“Too many times, we say no to things in our life that seem overwhelming or too hard. But once I began to say yes rather than “no” my whole life changed, said artist Marlee Gazelka. 12 years ago, Gazelka chose to say “yes” to following her passion for painting. Today, she is a thriving artist, teacher, mentor, and speaker. Being creative was always a love of hers; however, she didn’t always have time for it. Gazelka said. “Growing up, I was very fond of art, and I was almost always hanging out in the art studios  throughout middle and high school.” After getting married, One of her goals was to raise a family.
With five children, she didn’t make a lot of time for painting. In 2012, she brought art back to the surface of her life with more focus when she stumbled upon the online art mentor Matt Tommey. She read his book: Unlocking the Heart of the Artist, The book guides readers in identifying and overcoming common roadblocks that many artists face. “It’s about trusting the goodness of God, and stop saying ‘no’ to things that would otherwise be an opportunity,” Gazelka said.

In 2015, she won a People’s Choice Award at the Taste of the Lakes fundraiser, held annually at Grand View Lodge and sponsored by Minnesota Monthly magazine. As the winner of the wine label contest. two of her paintings were featured on more than 3,000 bottles of wine sold at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minnesota. Gazelka also entered two more paintings in a juried exhibit. As a chosen finalist, her work was displayed at the Laura H. Miles Gallery in the Minnetonka Center for the Arts.


Immersing herself in nature is how Gazelka finds her inspiration. She finds joy in the scenery that unfolds in front of her as she hikes through the woods. She also enjoys going on adventures in her Jeep and spending time on the lake. While traveling, she takes photos of the scenery and is eager to get back to her studio to paint. “I love being in nature. One of the wine labels I did was a fall scene. It was a reflection of the beauty I saw in Marlee’s Inspiration from an Artist: Marlee’s favorite artist is Monet. She first saw a Monet painting on a ninth-grade field trip. She didn’t know who Monet was, but his work spoke to her. Today she and her husband are remodeling a home, hoping to include a Monet-inspired garden in their backyard that can be seen from her art studio.

I really love how you can be still in nature and see God’s beauty. It’s hard to see all the beauty when we are wrapped up in the world. One of my goals with my work is to bring people back to serenity,” Gazelka said.


While growing her business, Gazelka received offers to teach workshops and speak at events. She has worked with Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge teaching “Art with a Purpose,” and has also worked with the Spina Bifida Foundation, Hope Kids, and many women’s groups around the country. Gazelka also served as a mentor for the Creative to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program. “I knew that giving God my yes’ meant helping bring joy to others through art.” Gazelka said. Her painting workshops are meant to unlock the inner artist while helping students find their creative side. As a form of visual art, Gazelka also paints live-sometimes on a stage They are most often based on scripture with the intent to bring inspiration and hope to her audience.


Gazelka uses a wide variety of creative mediums; however, much of her early work was done in acrylic. With the onset of COVID-19, her group work was postponed. Still, she sees it as a blessing in disguise. In March, she enrolled in the prestigious Milan Art Institute Mastery Program, an online art school. The rigorous coursework explores creative mediums with 290 courses designed to be completed in one year. She is currently in class 165 out of 255 and has expanded her work to include charcoal, oils, mixed media, and graphic art. As she continues to complete her mastery program, Gazelka enjoys where she is now. She strives to expand her creativity arena and takes solace in helping people who are struggling to find peace.