Thursday, July 11, 2019


This year has been filled with amazing experiences. I call Calgary my home now! We have been here for about 10 days and it is a beautiful city. It takes a while to settle in a new home, and we are still finding places for all our things. Needless to say, I am not getting any work done yet. I am pleased to say that I do have lots of space to create in here, and am excited to see what happens in the future.

Stampede is going on right now and we hope to visit this weekend - lot of events going on, beautiful nature right here in the city, and friendly people. I think I am in love :).

Friday, May 31, 2019

Sunflower painting by Natasa Vretenar

It is not as smokey here today but it is still moderate risk advisory. I am working on my new paintings today, listening to music and am grateful to be able to do what I love.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Apocalyptic skies

The air outside is filled with smoke from the big fire burning North of us. It is the first day the smoke reached us and it looks like the apocalypse is here. Thankfully, AC is working and filtering some of that smoke so we can breath inside.

I always try and stay positive, so sharing this blue poppy painting from many years ago! I enjoy painting flowers, but one can only paint so many canvases with flowers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Monday, May 27, 2019

New body of work

There are some subjects I return to after diverging into unknown, and one that has been close to my heart from the beginning of my art career is Equus! Yes, the horse. I have been working on some new paintings, combining realism and abstract and just kind of exploring the duality of what is inside and what we see on the outside.
This painting is one of my early works done in pastel. I really like working in pastel but over the years I moved to working entirely in acrylics - i find it to be the most user friendly and easy to work with when raising little kids.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Varnishing time!

Working hard here, and varnishing 25 paintings to get them ready for the June show. Putting the hanging wire in the back as well. I made these paintings on 3/4 thick boards and they do not need framing. It is coming along nicely, and I cannot wait to show this series at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. I have been showing my art there for the past 5 years and am glad to be able to bring a smile or two with my art to people recovering there.

Friday, May 10, 2019


Being able to travel is an amazing privilege. These three months we spent in Ireland have been wonderful (truly full of wonder!). It is a beautiful country and Irish people we met are kind, friendly and welcoming. I am certain we will be back in Ireland in the future.

There are things to be done here that have kept me from working on my art this last week. It takes about a week to get over the jet lag too, but we are almost entirely caught up. I am making a lovely beef stew today and taking a big breath in before jumping into creating a new series of paintings.

This is Giant's Causeway  - one of the amazing places we visited in Ireland.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

Saturday, April 13, 2019

It's complicated with those two

Going strong... My husband and I have been together for 19 years and it is our wedding (17th) anniversary today. We met in Albuquerque, NM in March 2000, and have been pretty much inseparable since. We survived multiple moves (to different countries even!), long working hours, and a few tragic losses. We continue to love and support each other and our "quirky" projects and endeavors. Happy to be living this crazy life together!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Artem Mater Physicus

"Can a woman have it all?" This is a modern, professional, educated woman's dilemma. Can one woman be a mother, work full time, have a functioning marriage, raise decent human beings, make home beautiful and clean, cook, be a good friend - all at the same time? I think this is impossible if one does not have financial independence or a support system that helps her achieve some of these goals. However, achieving one or two of her goals at some time in life is doable.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Monday, April 8, 2019

Cob 2, horse painting by Natasa Vretenar

I love painting Gypsy Vanner horses. It is wonderful to see them in the Irish green pastures.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Foal 2, horse painting by Natasa Vretenar

Here is another little foal painting. I am having too much fun here in Ireland to do any serious work, but I still try to sketch and paint something every day. It does not happen all the time, but this whole trip is an amazing experience and an artist's dream trip!  Hopefully, in the remaining few weeks we will be able to explore more rural Ireland and I am really looking forward to that!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Offspring, by Natasa Vretenar

Spring is in the air here in Ireland. The sheep and cows and horses are all having babies. It is a lot of fun to watch them in the green pastures.
My two babies are 10 and 14 today. It is hard to believe that they are that "old". I love spending time with my children - they are growing up to be quite interesting human beings.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Paint anywhere

I try and create art almost every day, but when traveling this is not always possible. However, I can set up a small work area almost anywhere - a few cardboard cereal boxes for surface protection, a few palette knives and brushes, some paint, yogurt container and water.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met. (Yeats)

"Ireland is a beautiful country" - said my youngest son the other day while we were coming back on a train from one of our daily adventures. I share the feeling with him - it is a beautiful country, and people are warm, friendly and welcoming. I love to socialize and it has been wonderful to be here. Irish chat with others on the street, at the bus stops, in the pubs, workplaces, art galleries.
There were times when we planned on visiting a place for only an hour or so, and we end up staying for hours and come back to re-visit because of interactions with people.

We have wonderful weather here too! It was sunny most days, and occasionally we had a rainy day or two. It is amazingly beautiful.

"There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met." Yeats

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Dreams, work, being unaccepted etc

I received an email earlier today that my art was accepted into a show I applied for. I read it on the bus and I got so happy. I did not expect it and it was a wonderful chance to share my art with people in another city. This short email was encouraging me to continue my work.

Then, I received another email later on in the day. There was a mix up with artists' list and emails were accidentally sent to those who were not supposed to receive this email! At first, I felt a sting of disappointment and wondered how they could make such a cruel mistake.

I thought about it a bit and asked myself why it was so important to me to be in this show. I create art daily, from my heart, and as such, my art is not easy to place in shows, especially the more traditional ones. The joy I felt when I got "accepted" shows me I am in the right place and doing the right thing - creating art. Yes, this time the acceptance was short-lived, but I decided to hang on to the feeling of joy I felt initially and not worry about being "unaccepted".  The true meaning of my art lies in that feeling of joy, whether it is my joy regarding a chance to show my art to others, or the joy of others when they see my art.

One may say everyone makes mistakes, but I do believe that sending an email like that in error can be quite upsetting for some people. The apology email was short, impersonal, unprofessional and rude. It is always good to check the correspondence twice or even 3 times before sending emails out, then to cause heartache to someone by telling them they are "unaccepted"

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Foal 1, horse painting by Natasa Vretenar

When I started painting full time I painted horses. I think they are challenging and beautiful subject to paint. I continue to sketch them and paint them but I am feeling like doing a series of larger horse paintings when I go back to Canada. In the meantime I will try and squeeze a few more foal paintings!

Monday, April 1, 2019

TJ The Old Mill Protector, cat painting by Natasa Vretenar

TJ is a handsome guy who is guarding the old mill that was restored to modern standards and now serves as a airbnb property. He is one lucky lad to be able to live in such a beautiful place.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Black Socks, horse painting by Natasa Vretenar

While traveling through the countryside in Ireland, we saw many beautiful Irish Cob horses. My kids kept thinking they were cows because of the markings. Those kids really need to get more into the country haha.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Skerries Beach View, Irish beach painting by Natasa Vretenar

There are so many beautiful beaches in Dublin area. We are trying to visit a beach whenever the weather is nice. This is a painting of a view from Skerries beach, looking out to the island with Martello tower.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Cizme skitaljke su imale svoje cizme skitaljke, Wandering Boots by Natasa Vretenar

I am so grateful we are in Ireland during the warm spell in February while the month has been the coldest in 40 years in Edmonton! That kind of extreme cold weather is not something I like.

There are so many wonderful places to see and visit in Dublin. We are exploring every day and where there is sunshine we make sure we plan an outdoor activity. There are many green spaces and parks in Dublin, from St. Stephen's Green to Merrion Square, to local neighborhood parks.  The playgrounds for little kids are really lovely too.

Yesterday we visited the National Gallery of Ireland, and I was delighted to see works by Caravaggio and El Greco and many others. They have an amazing collection of art there, and we will have to go back to check out a few more exhibits we did not get to.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Ireland travel

I have been in Ireland for two weeks now and it has been an amazing experience so far. Today is the first day I am allowing myself to soak it all in and think about the things and places we have seen so far. There is so much to do here. It is a beautiful country with friendly people, and many amazing sites to visit.

I managed to sneak in some work while traveling, and I hope to figure out a routine where I can work a bit every day.
We are also very lucky with the weather so far - lots of sunny days and very little rain! I hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Learning to Eat by Natasa Vretenar

I remember seeing a young foal once long ago trying to figure out how to eat - his legs were pushed forward and head tucked in between them while he tried to eat the grass. It was a funny thing to observe, and I did not fully appreciate it until I had my own kiddos.

This painting reminds me that the kids learn to do things on their own but the learning process is sometimes hard and awkward.

Monday, February 25, 2019

On the Beach by Natasa Vretenar

My favorite thing to do is to spend time on the beach. I don't care if it is cold as long as I hear waves crashing on the shore and smell the ocean or sea. I was able to escape to the beach a couple of times so far - collected some shells, walked around and enjoyed every second tremendously!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Traveler Blues by Natasa Vretenar

Traveling can be exhausting, especially with family. Everyone has a different amount of energy and wishes to do and see different things. It is very important to step back and rest when necessary.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

On a High Horse by Natasa Vretenar

I have hoped to see a lot of horses while visiting Ireland and so far my wish has come true! There are horse carriages all around Dublin pulled by the strong draft horses. We were also fortunate to see some wild ponies in the little village south of Dublin - they are sturdy and muscular looking, and a bit shorter than Irish cobs.

I am working on a series of sketches (work I do on the road tends to be small and I look at it as jotting down ideas that pop into my head). Usually these sketches turn into a series later down the line.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bog Ljubavi

I sometimes do a quick series for fun, painting whatever comes to mind without thinking much about it. Valentines day is coming up and I remembered this little painting of God of Love.

Saturday, February 9, 2019


I dream a lot, and in color. When I was younger I was a sleepwalker too. Maybe I still am but everyone in my family sleeps soundly and have not reported any incidents, except a few very engaged talking episodes. The moon cycle affects me tremendously.
The dreams were the most intense during my pregnancies. I wrote about them in my diaries, but I never have time to go back and look over my writings - life is so interesting, and challenging, and wonderful, and sometimes sad, and it is going by fast.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Lifetime of work

I have been an artist all my life. I am able to express in my art things I cannot express in words. It is truly a lifelong passion which grows every day. Every day is a work day, but right now I do not feel the urge to share everything I am working on with the world. This dedication and daily practice are behind every finished painting. Sometimes other people do not understand this, and many ask how long did it take to make a painting. The only answer to that is "a lifetime". Many also ask to get my art for free, but that is not possible and I have learned not to take it personally.

Snow keeps falling here and everything is covered in a thin blanket of fluffy white layer. It is peaceful and very quiet when I go out for my walk. In the next few days the temperatures will drop to our usual January ones (up to -40 with a windchill) and walks are out of question then, but I have the most beautiful view from my living room and even at those temperatures life is pleasant inside.

I was looking at my inventory and all the work I have done in the past 7 years. There was a lot of texture, color, experimentation, and mainly nature inspired work. One may even say - a lot of pretty little (and big) paintings. I think I painted beautiful things to make the transition to living in a harsh climate easier, and it definitely made our home more cheerful and energized. I find it a bit surprising that I never got into painting snow inspired paintings, but even in the coldest days I look for the color. There is a lot of color around us in the North. Here is a typical winter sunrise here in Edmonton. When I am able to catch this view early in the morning, the whole day carries the intensity of these clouds.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Lunar eclipse

I did not set up the tripod to take a nicer picture of the eclipse last night. I watched it the entire time and enjoyed it so much - the sky was clear mostly for the duration and the red was very noticeable. It was the best lunar eclipse I have ever seen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Born a Leader by Natasa Vretenar

9x12" acrylic media on cardboard

Monday, January 7, 2019

Through Thick and Thin by Natasa Vretenar

9x12" acrylic media on cardboard

Finding the one, the right one...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Irish Cob


I am so happy to have seen the Visions of the Hispanic World at the Albuquerque Museum. What an incredible exhibit! We saw Sorolla, Velasquez, Goya, El Greco etc. What a treat! We also saw Vespucci's hand drawn map - it is amazing to see this in person.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

She Never Wanted a Free Ride, She Wanted to Ride Free

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. (W.W. Song of the Open Road)

acrylic media

I am preparing special papers used for acrylic and oils to take with me on the trip to Ireland. I am getting really excited about this opportunity to explore the Emerald Isle and a land I never saw before!

I would like to continue my practice of painting daily while on the road. This has been a challenge for me since we always travel as a family. With kids it is a bit complicated but now that they are older and more self sufficient, I can also accomplish a few things while traveling. The most important thing is to prepare in advance, have some kind of plan. So, for this upcoming trip I am gessoing and painting a first layer of background on this acrylic paper (canvas texture). It will be easy to take with me, lightweight and durable too.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Into the Roaring Waves, acrylic media painting by Natasa Vretenar

Setting the sails for yet another journey together, into the rough seas! 12x16" acrylic media

This year I am starting with works made primarily by palette knives, and with some acrylic media. Using this technique gives my paintings different feel than the work I do with brushes and acrylic markers. I have always loved a lot of texture in my work.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Home She Left Behind

Millions of people have to leave their homes every year, and they go somewhere else, where it may be safer for their families to live. Somewhere where they can get education, or a job, or have a roof over their heads, and have food on their table.

The Home She Left Behind, acrylic media 9x12"

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

No Roots painting by Natasa Vretenar

9x12" acrylic media

No Roots

This year I do not have any resolutions, just going with the flow. I do have some goals, and I decided to only loosely use them as a guide. I spent the last year thinking more about my art than doing it. I did a lot of sketching and writing down ideas, but really have to devote time daily to my art practice and push paint around. I started the year strong, and I hope it keeps going.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Vile pletu konjima grive

Happy New Year! I hope this year brings peace and prosperity to all.

This is my first painting this year. When I was a kid, adults told us all kinds of stories, from Greek mythology to Easop's fairytales, to local superstition inspired stories. One of the stories was that fairies would come to villages at night and make braids with horses' manes. I imagine it would be terrifying in the mountains of Bosnia at night, when wolves are howling and strange noises can be heard. Animals and people could be easily spooked, and out of those primal fears many stories are born.

This is 12x16" acrylic media painting. I am experimenting with a few textures here - black lava, ceramic stucco and white opaque flakes. These are all Liquitex mediums and I like to try the professional mediums and I like to use products I find at Home Depot.

I deleted my Facebook account - I felt it was sucking my valuable time, and the time I spent on FB was not contributing to my happiness or artistic journey. I will be posting regularly on my blog though and on Instagram. 


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