Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

#30 Polar Bear, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Yeah! I made it - I painted another 30 in 30 days in January and this year it has been such a fun project. So much fun that I am going to double up from now on and try and finish 2 paintings each day for my Canada 150 project. I have a lot of substrates prepared already and am excited to continue painting all things Canada. It looks like half of my paintings will be animals and other half will be landscapes and motifs from Canadian lifestyle. 

We are having great weather now - temperatures are around zero Celsius and it is also sunny this week, not much wind! I go out as much as I can and walk and play in the snow. 

Here is a collage of all the 30 in 30 days paintings this year! 


Sunday, January 29, 2017

#29 Black Bear, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

A lot of times I ask my family members for critiques of my paintings. Kids are really good at it because they are honest. My son told me I should probably tone down this one when I only used the bright pink on the edges of the painting (small circles and dots). So naturally, I go in a totally opposite direction and go a bit wild with bright pink!


As I was working on this painting, I remembered the dancing bears that Gypsies had in Yugoslavia where I grew up. They would bring the bears to cities and our neighbourhoods and play music and they would have these poor bears chained up and living in slavery and torture all their lives. I was always terrified of this and felt so bad for the bears. I have no idea how this was even allowed. I sure hope it does not happen any more. Anyways, I painted this little fellow as a happy, free bear with a lot of bright, cheerful colours. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

#28 Magpie, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Magpies - they are my buddies here in Edmonton. They often come to our terrace and pose for me. I love to look at the shimmering colours in their wings and tails - greens, blues, purples, blacks and whites. I have spent numerous hours staring at magpies. They are quite clever birds. They are also vicious to outsiders - I have witnessed a group of them attack another magpie that happened to infringe on their territory - it was ugly!


Friday, January 27, 2017

#27 Elk, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

My goal is to do art every single day this year. No slacking! What that means is that I have to be disciplined and do a few art related things every day as a habit - like brushing teeth or stretching. Some of the activities I am doing daily are: preparing the substrates (gesso layers, painting edges and a first layer of the paint on the substrates), finishing the substrates (varnishing with final few layers of varnish and medium from Liquitex, and putting hanging stuff on the back of paintings, signing and naming paintings on the back, and storing them away), building textures on larger substrates for future projects I am thinking of already. 
My #canada150 project is going well. It is a lot of work and I do want to speed it up a bit and finish more than one painting per day. This requires me to do a lot of prep work when everyone is sleeping at night, so I can spread all the substrates around our home.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

#26 Snowy Owl, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

II am a self-taught artist. This means that I spend most of my time thinking, doing and researching art related things. I recently read a few artists' biographies. There is a lot to be learned about art they created by reading about their lives, personal choices and paths they traveled. 

Edmonton Public Library is a good place to get good books on art - I usually place a hold on a book and pick it up at a library closest to my home. Right now I am reading Mad Enchantment - a book about Monet. It is quite an interesting read, as it is clear that things really do stay the same throughout the history and artists have similar anxieties and hurdles even in different times. Not to mention ego wars, big personalities, solitude etc. 

My favourite still are Van Gogh's letters, which I love to read over, especially when I need motivation to continue with my art endeavours. 



11" diameter

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

#25 Lynx, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I was able to prepare a lot more substrates today. Preparation is critical for the success of a project like this. First, I start with ordering the substrates (and now I have all 150 of them on hand plus a few more), then I gesso them all. The next step is to put the base layer of paint and paint the edges as well. When this base layer dries, I can start painting the subject matter.

After the painting is done, I put a protective layer on top of it (usually 2, sometime 3 layers) - I use Liquitex gloss medium and varnish. Then, I put D shaped wall hangings in the back and attach the wire. Most of the time, I do the preparation stage and finishing stage (Varnishing and hanging) in bulk, waiting to finish at least 10 paintings to do it. It sure is a lot of work, but I am excited about this project and it is satisfying to look at all the paintings that I have completed so far next to each other.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#24 Cow, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I was shocked to find out that cows out here can survive in the winter in the open, even at -40 degrees. Those are some tough cows.

Monday, January 23, 2017

#23 Horse, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

 Fright, aggression, excitement, disobedience, or pain can cause a horse to rear. 

11" diameter, 3/4" thickness

Sunday, January 22, 2017

#22 Buffalo, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

12" diameter, 1" thick substrate

Saturday, January 21, 2017

#21 Snowshoe Hare, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

This one is on a 12" diameter, 1" thick substrate.

Friday, January 20, 2017

#20 "Coyote", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.

We have a lot of coyotes in the Edmonton ravine close to our home. They sometimes come through the neighbourhood and kids have even witnessed them on the school tarmac before. Our neighbours say they heard them go for a kill at night in the park across the street. Poor bunnies!

I have seen them quite a few times while taking walks and they are very healthy looking and well fed. They do not seem to be afraid of people at all.

https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#18 "Bighorn Sheep", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

My exhibit "Koi" is at Muttart Conservatory until February 17, 2017. Visit if you get a chance - it is a wonderful place to spend time at in the winter.
One of the first animals I saw in the wild is the Bighorn Sheep. We were visiting Jasper and they were everywhere on the way to town and also in front of the Miette Hot Springs. It is a magical place and what a great place to call home!



https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#17 "Crab", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

The first province I visited in Canada was Newfoundland. I remember it vividly - maybe because of the brightly painted homes in St. John's.  It is a beautiful place to visit, although a bit too damp and cold for my taste. Speaking of taste - here is a delicious new painting of a crab.

https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

Monday, January 16, 2017

#16 "Dolphin", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

There are so many ocean creatures that call Canada home. One of my favourites is of course a dolphin! 
Since I have been rather productive already this year, I took a few hours today to label and organize the Canada 150 paintings. I am separating them with the cardboard for now, but I ordered some plastic bags from ULine to keep them in.


To purchase go to https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

Sunday, January 15, 2017

#15 "Doe, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Things are going well on this project, I am actually a bit ahead :). I will continue to post a painting a day until I am finished with all 150 paintings! 

To purchase go to  https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada.

To summarize all 15 paintings so far:


Saturday, January 14, 2017

#14 "Deer", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

It is exciting to put up a show and I get motivated to do more work. Yesterday I varnished a bunch of paintings, and prepared more new substrates for the Canada 150 project. Today we are also taking down our Christmas tree. It is always a bit bitter sweet to take it down. 

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.

https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Koi" Exhibit at Muttart Conservatory until February 2017

This morning I put up my "Koi" exhibit at Muttart Conservatory here in Edmonton, with a lot of help from Neil (events coordinator at Muttart) and my hubby (a big guy who needed to get an extra cup of coffee to get through this task lol). Thank you both for your help! 

Muttart Conservatory is such a beautiful place and I am humbled to be juried in to show my art. This is my second exhibit there. My "Koi" Exhibit is up at Muttart until Feb 17, 2017. So happy to be able to show in this beautiful space - especially now that the feature pyramid has a koi pond in it! My art is also in fine company of Keith Walker's "Biota" and Alex Janvier's "Circle of Life". Please visit this beautiful place if you have time. Feature pyramid is amazing as always!


Here is a rare sighting of a reclusive artist out in public. One of my goals this year is to go to more art related local events - especially in winter. There are so many things to do in Edmonton, it is really hard to pick which events to check out! I hope people can come to Muttart and see all the art on display, as well as enjoy the beautiful pyramids.


I have been working on circular substrates for a while now. Mark from Captive Cutting in Leduc makes the substrates for me and this was the first batch he made. When I got them home I just thought of bubbles and water and voila - the whole koi series was born! I think it is interesting how a different shape of the substrate, and the material of it (canvas or solid support) can influence how the finished painting looks or even how it starts!



#13 "Raven", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Today is Friday the 13th. Here is a bit of history on the date  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th. I thought raven would be a good one to post on this day. It is interesting to me that in some buildings here in Edmonton there is no 13th floor. 


11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

#12 "Bald Eagle", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Last night and this morning we had the coldest weather so far - -45deg with a windchill! That is cold. I did venture out to do a few things though. I also picked up about 150 new substrates (you guessed it - 11" diameter 3/4" thick). Mark from Captive Cutting in Leduc made them for me and I already prepped 15 substrates with black gesso. Today was a busy day with varnishing as well - I varnished 29 paintings with two layers of varnish! Yeah! That is a lot of prep and finishing work in one day, but it is something that needs to be done. 
I am constantly thinking about this series and what is the next painting or ten of them going to be :). 
I keep adding new things to refine my list for 150 paintings. 

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.
https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

#11 "Caribou", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I started this project in part because I wanted to learn more about Canada. Before moving to Alberta we did a bit of homework, but did not really understand what life is like here until we moved and settled a bit. In the previous years, everyone in our family learned so much about Alberta and Canada, and yet there is always something new one can learn. I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Alberta Legislature to anyone who wants to learn history about Alberta - it is fascinating and quite different from other parts of Canada. Furthermore, Borealis gallery in the Visitor's centre has great shows throughout the year - right now they are showing Storytellers, a collection from AFA with a variety of work from Alberta artists. It is a good exhibit - worth visiting!

My plan for the Canada 150 paintings is to first paint animals that live in Canada. Usually, I take a lot of reference pictures while traveling through Alberta and sketch if at all possible on location. It is a special treat to see wildlife in its natural habitat and I cherish the times we were lucky to see some animals in the wild.

The first time I saw caribou in the wild was in Jasper, AB in 2013. These magnificent animals were on the side of the road - a pair, both with beautiful set of antlers. 

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

#9 "Barn Owl", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

When I work on a project that I enjoy, things just seem to flow. This is the case with this project! Animals just keep appearing and I am having tons of fun painting them. The more I work, the more I want to work and create more paintings! 
11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

#8 Bee, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Bees! They are so important to our existence on Earth. 

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

#7 "Fox - Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

This series is becoming more and more fun every day. I am having a lot of fun and my fingers are starting to hurt due to all the painting action! Well, just a bit, but that could be due to temperatures dropping even more. Next week temperatures are supposed to drop down to -40 degrees. Even more reason to paint more. I usually do not go for walks outside if it less than -20 deg C and cold starts to bite my face. Therefore, colder temperatures can mean only one thing - more indoor time, which also means - more painting time! Cheers everyone and enjoy 2017!

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate, custom made.




Friday, January 6, 2017

#6 "Salmon" - Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate
This challenge is  a part of a bigger project - Canada 150. I plan on painting 150 paintings inspired by Canada this year, and each painting will be $150 and available for purchase.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#5 "Moose" - Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Here is one animal that most people think of when they are thinking about Canada. They are huge! One time a couple of juveniles wondered in our neighbourhood in the summer. We stayed behind them at a safe distance, but were able to admire them for a little while. There used to be a lake in our neighbourhood once upon a time, and they probably instinctively came back to the lake and found a bunch of human homes.

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate


This challenge is  a part of a bigger project - Canada 150. I plan on painting 150 paintings inspired by Canada this year, and each painting will be $150 and available for purchase.

https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

#4 "Sperm Whale" - Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I am excited today because Edmonton Examiner published an article about my Canada150 project! Here is a link to that article:

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate
This challenge is  a part of a bigger project - Canada 150. I plan on painting 150 paintings inspired by Canada this year, and each painting will be $150 and available for purchase.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

#3 "Otter", Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I am really enjoying doing this series of paintings! It is almost like a meditation session with every painting I do. The process is quite involved and it starts with ordering special substrates from a local business "Captive Cutting" in Leduc, AB. I then gesso the blank substrates and paint the background. For a big project like this one, I like to gesso a lot of paintings together in one day. I also paint the sides of the painting. This way I always have more substrates I can work on in case I get extra painting time in my schedule or I feel particularly energetic to work on multiple paintings at the same time. 
11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate

This challenge is  a part of a bigger project - Canada 150. I plan on painting 150 paintings inspired by Canada this year, and each painting will be $150 and available for purchase.
https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

Monday, January 2, 2017

#2 "Grizzly Bear" - Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

I think it takes courage to start a new project especially if it is in a new direction. Every artist goes through stages and their personal style changes (some completely change over the years, some just slightly), but usually one can see the artist in their work throughout. 

11" diameter 3/4" thick birch plywood substrate

On my first Canada exploration trip which involved going through the Kootenay National Park, I saw the biggest grizzly bear casually walking by the highway. What was terrifying about it is that a bunch of tourists were within 10 m or less from it. We drove by slowly and got away from that giant as soon as we could. He was beautiful! I just wish people would not get so close to animals in the wild - they just do not realize how dangerous, agile, fast and strong they are.

All of the paintings from Canada 150 project are for sale and are (you guessed it right!) $150 each.

https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada


Sunday, January 1, 2017

#1 "Dam It" - Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

It is a very special year because it marks the 150th anniversary of Canada. In honour of Canada, I decided to paint 150 paintings inspired by Canada landscapes and animals and all things Canadian!

As I have been doing for the past few years, I am starting the year with 30 small paintings in 30 days. I thank Leslie Saeta of https://www.saetastudio.com/ for encouraging thousands of artists throughout the world with her challenges - this effort really helps me be a better artist, and I enjoy the excitement of preparing for it and making the paintings!

These 30 paintings will focus on animals that call Canada home and will all be completed by the end of January! I hope that I will be able to paint one painting a day throughout the month. Sometimes, I have to paint a few paintings in one day if life interferes and I cannot finish a painting on each day. The key is to keep the paintings small and keep focus on a theme. So, here is the first animal - Canada/s national animal.

"Dam It!"


11" diameter .75" thick birch plywood substrate, acrylic paint.
I am so excited about this project. As you can tell, I am going to keep it fun and cheerful!
This challenge is  a part of a bigger project - Canada 150. I plan on painting 150 paintings inspired by Canada this year, and each painting will be $150 and available for purchase.

https://squareup.com/store/natasa-vretenars-fine-art/item/canada

I am posting all my 150 paintings on a separate blog http://natasacanada150.blogspot.ca/. I will have to find a venue to show all these paintings when I finish the project!


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