Saturday, May 27, 2017

Social media break and real life

I really love Facebook and how it allowed me to get in contact with a lot of people who were once in my life (especially from ex-Yugoslavia), and I am grateful that it "introduced" me to so many wonderful artists whom I would have never even know about. However, it also became a time sink for me - spent way too much time scrolling through posts. It is time to quit cold turkey - no more posts on any social media. I will be writing here and post my new work on my blog and website regularly. 

The weather in Edmonton is great now (except for the mosquitoes) - we are spending as much time outdoors as possible. I am taking reference photos of the different spots in the ravine and getting ready for my next winter's project. I am planning to do a series of the ravine paintings.

I have been off social media for a few days only and it has been great. Being present in the moment without distractions is a wonderful thing for the mind. It is amazing how much more I accomplished - caught up on several big projects in the home, worked out more, sketched several new painting ideas etc. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cemetery Flowers, by Natasa Vretenar

Every painting is a step forward and toward my next series and development as an artist, even if it is a "bad painting" or a sketch. There are some ideas that are in my head that have been evolving slowly over time and I am starting to work on them. In the mean time I am also painting these small 11" diameter NM challenge paintings - just because I love NM and enjoy painting with this group - scenes that I am familiar with and I have seen with my own eyes while traveling through. This painting is of artificial flowers on a wire fence in the cemetery. It could be any cemetery or even a makeshift memorial on the side of the road.

The link for Let's Paint New Mexico website is 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Along the Jemez River, by Natasa Vretenar

I am missing NM a bit these days. This is another challenge for the Let's paint NM group. I still may work on it later but I am done for now. I just love Jemez river and especially the hot springs!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Our Lady I-VI

Each painting is 18x3" on a 1.5" cradled birch panel. On each side I painted 3D roses on each painting. These paintings are labor intensive - I use crackle medium to achieve the old cracked look and this alone takes 3-4 solid days to dry. There are many layers of paint and also, it takes a lot of paint to build up all the roses. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Our Lady VI - 2017, by Natasa Vretenar

It has been as busy as ever around here. I still have a lot of paintings to varnish from my Canada 150 project and I got to do some of them this morning. They are drying now, while I prepare a couple of large substrates for my next two big paintings. I am excited to paint a few big ones. They require a lot of work and preparation (both mental and material). 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Lady IV - 2017, by Natasa Vretenar

A few years ago I painted three paintings like these and they sold. I miss seeing them around so I decided to paint a few more. I really enjoy painting "Our Lady" series. These paintings are on a 18x3" birch panel on a 1.5" thick cradle. I paint every side of the painting with highly textured roses.  The roses are on top, bottom and sides of the painting. 


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rejection and opportunities

Yesterday I had a record of four rejections in my email. I got a bit bummed out, but all was better after a few hours spent with my family. Sometimes, a situation that is not an ideal one turns out to be a blessing in disguise. There is so much to be grateful for.

Now I feel motivated to finish up a few projects I put aside for a while. Today I was able to prep two large supports (to finish dragon-koi series) and 12 little ones (to catch up on my Let's paint NM challenges).

I also did some experimenting with the flexible modelling paste and pouring medium. I love to work on my projects and when I finish one, the new projects tie into what I have been working previously. I feel like I do not have enough time to do all the things I want to do.

They are cutting the grass in the field outside our condo building and it smells so good! Sun is shining, everything is rapidly turning green, grass and trees are looking better every day. Edmonton is looking good these days.

Here is my painting for the Challenge #12 in Let's Paint New Mexico group.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sunny days

The weather has been wonderful, so I have been spending most of the time outdoors. We went to Botanic Garden for the Japanese kid day and there were hardly any people there this time. We practically went from winter straight into the summer. I am so happy to have the sun shining, and I love being outside all day, that I do not mind pushing off my next few projects for a few days.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Beautiful day in Edmonton

This is what is happening today in Edmonton! 28 degrees and sunshine. I am happy.

I am using this wonderful weather to put in some exercise outdoors, and work outside on a terrace. Today I had a chance to think in depth about 2 or 3 projects I had in mind for a while, but could not get to because I wanted to finish the Canada 150 project. I am excited to work on something else for a change. I really like how #canada150 project turned out and what direction it took me, but I really missed my palette knives and bigger substrates!

I am not sure if this is normal for other artists, but I find different kind of inspiration when I work on different kind of substrates. When I work on smaller substrates, I get more detail oriented, and on bigger paintings I love to paint loose. I also miss painting animals, so pretty soon I should have a few larger paintings of animals in works.

There is another project I will be working on in the next few weeks - finishing up the challenges for Let's paint NM website. It brings me a bit closer to my favourite place on Earth.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Canada 150 project summary

Here it is - a collage of all the paintings I completed for the Canada 150 project. Enjoy it! Each painting is made with a lot of love by me. It starts with an idea for each painting, carefully picking a subject matter, colours, design, composition. I think that first step is the most important - planning the painting! It takes a while to prepare the substrates properly, and I do this in small batches - sealing, gessoing, layering the first few paint layers. I always had a few extra substrates ready on hand, just in case I felt more productive on any given day.

This was such a fun project - it took me 124 consecutive days to finish 150 11" diameter paintings. One day late in 2016 I was thinking about what to do and came up with the idea to do 150 paintings. I ordered custom substrates, and started painting away - first the animals that live in Canada and then other subjects that are related to living in Canada. 

There were many times when I would lose steam and take a break from the project for a few days, but the key to successfully completing the project was a constant support from my friends on social media, and getting myself to work every day! I did 30 in 30 days projects before and that was challenging - but this project was intense. I am so glad I stuck with it and completed all 150 paintings to commemorate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. 

I learned a lot about Canada and its people during this project. I asked many people what it means to them to be a Canadian, why they are happy or proud to be a Canadian etc. It was a lovely experience, and I feel that there is so much more to explore and learn about Canada.  

#150 Three Sisters, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

And here it is - my last painting in the #canada150 series! I have been working on this project for 4 months and really enjoyed doing it. It turned out to be a bit more challenging than what I expected. I pushed my limits and took my work in a new direction, and developed several new projects along the way - but more about that later!

#149 Hoodoos, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Badlands in Alberta is a great place to visit. The landscape is different from anything else, almost feels like you are in another world. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#148 Pinus Contorta, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

#147 Valley of the ten peaks, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

The most beautiful place in Canada that I have seen so far - Banff National Park and the Valley of the ten peaks! Teal waters, fluffy clouds, majestic mountains. It is truly amazing.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

#146 Terry Fox Run, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

This event is a unique Canadian event - to learn more about it please visit the link below.

#145 Hay, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Friday, April 28, 2017

#144 Snow Storm, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

These paintings are painted on 11" substrates that are 3/4" thick. The first 30 or so are painted on a birch plywood and others on MDF. I had them custom made by Captive Cutting in Leduc, AB. Both birch and MDF panels are great to paint on, with MDF panels being smoother. The substrates are small and at this size, birch and MDF do not weigh much. I make sure that they are sealed on the side (very important for the MDF panels as the sides are more porous and absorb moisture) and gessoed before I paint on them. 

If you love winter - then you have come to the right place - Canada is a winter wonderland.

#143 Mt. Rundle, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Mountains in Alberta are majestic. We love to be outdoors and use every opportunity to get out there and enjoy natural wonders that are within a few hours drive from Edmonton. One of my favourite places to visit is Jasper National Park. It is a wild and amazing place that should definitely be on your bucket list.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Patreon website

I was recently thinking about how it would be amazing to have a regular support of a wealthy art patron, so I could focus on art creation (doesn't every artist wish that?). Then I heard about this website. It is a great idea and I set up a page. Even if it does not work at all for me, I really like the concept.

Here is my Patreon page - it is a work in progress, but I will update as I learn more about how to use the website.

#142 Canola Field, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Alberta has been home to us for five years and we traveled around the province as much as possible. It is a beautiful part of Canada - from the prairies to mountains to badlands - there are so many different and beautiful things to see here. 

#141 Canadian Shield Rose, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I am finally back to working on Canada 150 project. The Canadian Shield Rose has been chosen to be the official flower of the Canada 150 celebration. Naturally, I had to paint it! I am so close to finishing my #canada150 project! I am excited about it and hope to finish it in the next week or two!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


We are having a snowy week here in Edmonton. No signs of spring except at the Muttart Conservatory. It is my favourite place to visit when the sky is gray or white. Their main pyramid is full of tulips and other bulbs in bloom and it smells divine. I love it.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Travel, fun, routines

I have been traveling for a couple of weeks, and did not have a chance to write at all. April is a busy month for us - 3 birthdays and an anniversary, plus Easter celebration. It is my favourite month of the year, but it sure is a busy one, especially when you throw a trip in.

I have never been to Hawaii before and I love it! We spent 2 weeks in Oahu and explored the entire island. I am inspired to make a series of paintings based on our travel there. But first, i am gearing up to finish my Canada 150 project - I have only 10 more paintings to finish, and then I have to varnish and put wire on the back for about 50 more and it will be done. I am still looking for a place to show all the paintings together and no luck so far. I am hoping that at least one application I sent out will support local artist. Edmonton is a tough place to be an artist. There are not that many places to show art, and galleries do not support local artists much.

There are a couple of old projects that I have to finish still, and I have a couple new ones in mind. Exciting to think about working on all that! Today I am cleaning up our place and going to take a long hike to shake off some of that food coma from this weekend. Tomorrow is a good day to get back into my routine.

Here is a photo of the first 50 paintings for the Canada 150 project. I really hope to find a place to show all the paintings together - it would be great to see them as an entire group.

Monday, March 20, 2017

#131 Train, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

In addition to working on my #canada150 project, I am continuously working on writing proposals for new exhibits and a few grants that are available out there. I have gotten better at it but it is still not my thing. It takes me forever to write up something. Since English is my second language, there are always issues with writing and articulating what I really want to say. 
I am also working on making a video for the application for the Coast to Coast expedition - they are looking for visual artist to join the crew and travel throughout Canada. I am hoping to get picked for the NW leg of the expedition. 

#130 The Perfect Snowman, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I think I will never grow up - I love going out there with my kids and play in the snow. Once I overheard someone scolding their child and saying that their snowman is not perfect, because it was crooked a bit and eyes were not aligned "properly". It really made me upset, because I truly believe that every snowman is a perfect snowman.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

#121 Gyrfalcon, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

#120 Lest We Forget, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

#119 Dog Sled, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

#118 Tobogganing, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

We love tobogganing! There are many hills in Edmonton we go to, but our favourite still is our neighbourhood (small) hill. It is close by and safe for little kids.


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