Wednesday, December 31, 2014

30 paintings in 30 days challenge - Bosnia and Hercegovina by Natasa Vretenar

I started 2014 with a 30 in 30 days painting challenge and it was really fun to do it. I decided to do it again. To register for the challenge you can go to Leslie Saeta Blog.

This year my theme will be "Things about Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH from now on)". I was born and raised in Sarajevo, and lived there for the first 17 years of my life. I am not sure what these things will be yet, although I have a few in my mind already. Each one of the paintings will be somehow related to BiH, and each painting will be small format (smaller than 12x12"), unless I get superpowers and finish a few big canvases too. For daily paintings I try and keep things simple and small though, so I can finish each painting every day. 

Please join me on this little painting journey to a beautiful place where I grew up. It should be an interesting experience.

photo from

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Living in Canada by Natasa Vretenar

Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to live in a warm climate. I dreamt of hot deserts and tropical paradises. I longed for our summer trips to the Adriatic sea, and soaked up all the sunshine I could when we had warm weather. I lived in the Southwest USA for 20 years, and I find it a bit ironic I ended up living in Edmonton. It has been two and a half years now and I have learned to deal with cold weather better. Aside from buying the warmest jacket and boots I could find, there are a few things I had to learn along the way in order to make my existence more bearable in long winter months. Here is a 10 things about cold climate list I live by:

1. If there is a clear day with clean roads - use it! Work out outside,  go to the art supply store, buy groceries or anything else you need, run to the post office etc. You never know if tomorrow will bring more snow or icy rain. Icy rain - that is definitely the bane of my existence!
2. Buy extra food for the pantry and other essential supplies (toilet paper). If you run out on a snow day, it may be a problem to go to the store. 
3. -20 deg C is not cold
4. Be physically active every day and look at #3!
5. Make your home simple, cozy and comfortable, as you spend a lot of time indoors. Maintenance is so much harder in a cold climate. I hate shovelling snow 8 months out of the year and that is why I live in a condo. 
6. Take vitamin D supplements. 
7. Everything takes longer - overnight mail delivery may mean 2-3 days. Plan in advance.
8. Leave the house early if you need to be somewhere on time. 
9. Be prepared for bad weather and bugs at the outdoor art shows in the summer. Long sleeves and pants, bug spray and lots of water are a must.
10. Perfect the Geisha walk.

Edmonton has been a great place for the kids and for us so far. We met new friends and explored this beautiful province we live in. Alberta is simply majestic. I am grateful that we got to live in so many amazing places throughout  years. We just embrace winter and have lots of fun in the snow. 

I am trying to capture a glimpse of its beauty and am embarking on yet another series of paintings of snow scenes! In the mean time here is a painting I did a few years back of Taos mountains.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Aleja by Natasa Vretenar


This is one of my older paintings. I loved going for walks in this Aleja at Ilidza. It is a nice walk to the spring of river Bosna on the outskirts of Sarajevo.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lily Pond by Natasa Vretenar

This painting is 24x30" and it is hard to photograph it since it has metallic paint on it. It takes me back to lovely Japanese garden ponds in bio park in Albuquerque, and in Denver where I used to spend a lot of time. Japanese gardens are so peaceful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lake Louise I and II by Natasa Vretenar

I feel grateful that I live in a beautiful Alberta! The scenery is so diverse here - from prairie to badlands to mountains - there is something new everywhere you go, and all within a few hours drive from Edmonton. We have been to the mountains several times and each time is a unique experience. There are so many beautiful places to see. This diptych is a painting of Lake Louise, probably the most visited lake in Canadian Rockies.
Lake Louise is truly beautiful. The mountains and Victoria glacier hovering above the lake are massive. 
The only bad thing about Lake Louise is that there are thousands of tourist visiting during summer. When we got there, three big busses full of tourists just pulled up and dropped off their noisy cargo :). I found a spot with a flower bed planted with red and orange poppies and knew that some day I would paint it - I mean - poppies and mountain lake! What could be better?!?

The big green spot is a reflection from the camera. We are thankfully moving towards longer days now! We have very short days up North and I often don't get to take a good picture during the day with natural light.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Three paintings auctioned off this weekend :)

Every year our swim club has a silent auction at the end of the year and this is the second year I contributed my paintings. 

These three 12x12 paintings have found new homes this weekend. The silent auction was for the swim club to support these hard working young athletes. All three received nice bids (there was no reserve) and I am happy they are off to good homes. Huge thanks to my new collectors :)!

Friday, December 12, 2014

VASA group show in September - Animals

More great news for 2015! Several of my animal paintings will be in a group show with other animal artists at VASA gallery in St. Albert. I just got the news that my paintings have been juried in and that the show will be some time in September, 2015.
I am excited to feature my animals locally!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Writing exhibit proposals and other stuff

I have been busy writing proposals. This is a task I do not like that much, but it helps me evaluate where I am on my art journey. I have a few ideas floating around in my head at all times and even though it may seem like a lot, they all will converge nicely together in the future. In the mean time, I am doing bits and pieces every single day. I explore new materials in my paintings, play with different textures and tools, even substrates.

I think I am going to paint a few ravens soon - haven't painted them in a while!

Friday, December 5, 2014

"Ravine" painting from the Marking the Valley Show


I got great news today - my painting "Ravine" has been bought by the River Valley Alliance for their retiring executive director. I am so excited about it! I hope he likes it :)
The painting was a part of the traveling exhibit that was on display here in Edmonton at Jubilee and in Calgary at the Souther Jubilee Gallery.

Many thanks to Visual Arts Alberta CARFAC and River Valley Alliance! Much appreciated!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Summary of 2014

The end of 2014 is approaching fast and it is a good time to look back and see what happened on my artful journey this year.

The year started with 30 in 30 days challenge in January. I painted 30 cocks, and I had lots of fun and good laughs with my friends. It was a great way to start the year and get into a daily painting routine. I signed up for the challenge in January again.

I had 4 solo shows this year as well. The first one was at Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton. My paintings were on display on the art wall in February and March.

My small paintings were on display at The Paint Spot in Artisan Nook in Edmonton, and I was the Artist of the Month at Westwood Unitarian in Parkallen.

My 4th solo show was at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. I love that I was juried to show my art at the hospital gallery. Knowing that my art brighten patients days for two months makes me happy! The picture below shows the display at The Blue Curve Gallery. I am happy to say that I applied again for their exhibits for 2015 and was accepted to show in their largest gallery - Mezzanine Gallery. The show will be October-December 2015. I am working on a series of Alberta landscapes for that exhibit.

My art was in nine group shows this year, and most of them were juried shows! One of the group juried shows was "Marking the Valley" organized by Visual Arts Alberta CARFAC. All of the 28 paintings ( painted by Alberta artists) chosen are inspired by a place along the North Saskatchewan River Valley. My painting "Ravine" was purchased by the River Valley Alliance for their retiring executive director!!! I am excited about this and hope he enjoys it! I certainly had fun painting it :). I am so grateful to be juried into this show that featured our beautiful River Valley, and I am humbled that my painting was chosen among all the other wonderful paintings to be purchased for the River Valley retiring director!

The shows are always a lot of work, but help me keep my priorities straight and stay motivated to work on a new series (or two).  This year I finished painting about 150 paintings, a lot of them on large canvases. I also did a lot of drawing, taking pictures for reference and went on several very productive and inspirational trips. It was truly an amazing year. I am hoping to do even more work in the next year, as we are comfortably settled into our lives here in Edmonton now, and I can do full-time painting. Such an exciting time in my life!

I am starting 2015 with a solo show "Serene Vistas" at Milner Gallery at the library downtown! I am putting it up on January 2nd and it will be up until the end of the month. Two more solo shows are lined up so far for 2015 - one in July at The Carrot Gallery, and one in October at GRH, Mezzanine Gallery. I already signed up for a few other shows and exhibits - more details on those in the new year!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Koi I

 In this painting I used only acrylic paint, but lots and lots of layers.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Spirit Island triptych

Each canvas is 2x6ft. I added some grass and rocks in the foreground. The painting is mostly done, I may tweak a few things before finishing it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

9x12" Ocellated Turkey

I almost thought I would not be able to finish this little guy today! I have been thinking about painting him for a while, just never got around to doing it.

The orange paint is the new paint I am trying out. It is made by Kroma Acrylics from BC. I really like it so far. I got four of their colours and they are bright (which of course I love!) They have a nice consistency (close to Golden acrylics) and that is a huge plus for me. I will continue working with the new paints this weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Small Temptations at The Paint Spot

Just dropped off 5 small paintings for the Small Temptations show at The Paint Spot.

There are so many wonderful artists in Edmonton. I have only met a handful so far, but planning on getting more involved in 2015 in the local arts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Spirit Island, large triptych 6x6 ft, 72inx72in

This triptych is mostly done! I am going to do a few more fine details. I have been working on it for a while now and it is a challenge to squeeze painting during daylight hours, as I am doing a lot of other things during the day.

Each canvas is 24x72 inches making the triptych 6x6 ft! The painting is taller than me and so much detail from the clouds, to mountains and tree to all the reflections in the water. It is quite a challenge.

When I visited the Maligne Lake the first time, I was amazed at the beauty of nature there and how blue the lake was. It has a beautiful, teal blue shade of glacial water runoff. It was very quiet at the Spirit Island. We kayaked around the lake, but with little kids it was not possible to try and attempt kayaking all the way to the Spirit Island. The winds were strong, I had a bit of trouble coming back to the shore going against it! It was a wonderful day, sunny, but we were quickly reminded how the weather can change quickly and become dangerous in the mountains.
We decided to take the boat ride to Spirit Island instead, and loved it! It is a peaceful and lovely spot to visit.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Framing the painting

I have been painting on a gallery wrapped canvas for a while so I don't have to frame my paintings for the shows. However, there are a few supports and paintings that still needed to be framed. One of them is this large 4x4ft painting of Colorado foothills sunflowers.

A friend of mine recommended Zorzos framing in Edmonton.

I called them and brought the painting in the next day. I was really surprised when they said to come back and pick it up after lunch! Sure enough, I came back and it was all done. Large platinum frame for a great price. I got other quotes from three different local framing places and none of them were even close to this price. Not to mention how valuable it is to have the same day service! They also have a ton of readymade frames for smaller paintings (well, smaller than 4x4ft!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another solo show scheduled for 2015!

I got more exciting news today. My art will be at Glenrose Rehab Hospital from October to December for 2 full months in Mezzanine Gallery. This is the largest gallery they have available and is more than 50 linear feet long. I plan on having some large format Alberta landscapes on display!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Triptych more progress

When I work on larger pieces I really like to work on them in the day time, and we have such short days here in the North. 4 pm and it is already getting too dark to paint.
I am slowly making a progress on these paintings and getting to work on all the reflections in the water. I used the flexible modelling paste to build up the texture and pouring medium for the water. I love using my huge palette knives!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guilded Show

 This is a juried show with artists from local art guilds in St. Albert. My painting "Misty Morning" is on display as shown below.
I am happy to be a part of St. Albert Guild. I met a lot of artists and participated in group shows (the Guild has two shows per year - one in Spring and one in Fall).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Large triptych WIP

Each canvas is gallery wrapped and 24x72", making the entire painting 6x6 ft. I am making it this way to fit in three alcoves at Milner library for my solo show in January.

I love painting large. Painting large is a completely different experience than painting my daily paintings. It is also not easy to switch back and forth from small format to large format. Just this first layer of paint gave me a good workout! I am doing the background first and working my way to the front of the painting.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Art from the Unknown show

It was a fun show to be in. I met a few local artists. I am happy that my friends stopped by to say hi as well.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Two show openings this week!

On Thursday - Opening of Guilded - Let Nature Stun you! at St. Albert Art Gallery.

On Friday - Old Strathcona Performance Centre 6-10 pm - Opening of "The Art from the Unknown".

I will have my daily paintings on display - all will be $100 each! Stop by and say hi :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Carrot show in July 2015

Another solo show is scheduled for July 2015. It will be at the Carrot gallery. It is a volunteer run coffeshop/gallery space and it is in the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood. I am looking forward to having another solo show, especially in a nice, community oriented space. Hm, i am going to have to start thinking what the show will be about :).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

El Dia De Los Muertos

Yesterday, I decided to do a little self portrait. I made it in a Day of the Dead spirit as the holiday is approaching us.

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday observed throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the triduum of Allhallowtide: All Hallows' Eve, Hallowmas, and All Souls' Day (From Wikipedia). In Croatia a tradition is to go to cemetery and visit our dead relatives, light candles and leave flowers.

I was born and raised in the ex-Yugoslavia. When we were in the 1st grade we all went through a ceremony to become pioneers and we pledged the allegiance to the Unions of Pioneers of Yugoslavia. I was in the first generation that had blue hats. We also wore the red scarf.

The allegiance went like this:

Danas, kada postajem pionir,

dajem časnu pionirsku riječ/reč -

da ću marljivo učiti i raditi,

poštovati roditelje i starije,

i biti vjeran/veran i iskren drug,

koji drži datu riječ/reč.

Da ću voljeti/voleti našu domovinu, samoupravnu

socijalističku federativnu republiku Jugoslaviju,

da ću razvijati bratstvo i jedinstvo

i ideje za koje se borio drug Tito.

Da ću cijeniti/ceniti sve ljude svijeta/sveta koji žele slobodu i mir!

In English:

Today, as I become a Pioneer,

I give my Pioneer's word of honour -

That I shall study and work diligently,

respect parents and my seniors,

and be a loyal and honest comrade/friend.

That I shall love our homeland, self-managed

socialist federal republic of Yugoslavia.

That I shall spread brotherhood and unity

and the principles for which comrade Tito fought.

And that I shall value all peoples of the world who respect freedom and peace!

Including the pioneer hat and scarf in my painting is fitting to the Day of the Dead theme - as they are the symbols of something that is now dead. I wrote in Glagoljica writing, letters dating from the 9th century The alphabet is not used in today's world, it is dead and also fitting to the theme. The flowers are poppies to celebrate loved ones lost.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Art from the Unknown show in November

Art from the Unknown will be hosted at the Old Strathcona Centre for the Performing Arts / Cosmopolitan Music Society, located at 8426 Gateway Boulevard. The event will run during the following times:
November 7, 2014 – 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM – Opening Night Reception with Live Music
November 8, 2014 – 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM – General Gallery
November 9, 2014 – 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – General Gallery
I will be there the entire time this weekend so please stop by and say hi!!! I love it when people take time to visit while I am at a show.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Exhibits scheduled for 2015

My first solo show in 2015 is in January, at Gallery at Milner in Downtown Edmonton. I am looking at the wall space available  and realizing that I better get to work right away to have enough work to fill the space! Usually, an artist has to apply for a show well in advance and in the mean time paintings sell! Or, you start thinking that the work you originally planned to have in the show is just not good enough for a solo show. This time I have both of these issues and am thinking today about what to do next for this show. Thankfully, I have 2.5 months to put things together, and that is a plenty of time! I plan to kick start the New 2015 Year in style!

This entire year I have been working furiously on improving my technique, on getting better at drawing, and thinking about the direction I want to take my art in the future.

Every small, daily, painting I finished this year is a small step forward for me. I study animal anatomy and features in every painting. I spent a lot of time observing different animals at zoos, in nature, and animal sanctuaries this year. I hope to do even more next year and I will write more about it as well.

I am starting to think about goals for the next year. I don't think it is too early to do it and I will try and keep them simple, and take one step at a time. Yesterday I completed four applications for shows and one grant. I never expect to get accepted, but prepare as if I will be accepted for each one of those shows!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Swift Fox, 6x12"

This little mammal is not a fox at all! It is in a family of wild dogs, and it is one of the endangered species in Canada. They are quite small, and adults weigh about 2-3 kg.

This painting is 6x12".

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Howling, 6x12"

Daily painting 6x12"

Wolves! I am studying them, observing them and sketching them. There are two white wolves in Edmonton zoo, a male and a female. They have to keep them separated because they fight if they are in the same cage. It is amazing to watch them howl. They are quite big.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Great News about my art!!!

September has been a great month for my art! I got my first gallery representation in Alberta and am very excited about it. The Gallery on Main in Lacombe will represent me! One of my goals this year was to get local (Alberta) representation and I reached that goal full three months ahead.

Furthermore, my art was juried in Xanadu Studios and now I am also officially represented by Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ! How exciting!!!

Of course, this has motivated me to paint even more... I am planning a couple of shows for the next year, and am going large! I prefer to paint large paintings, but life often gets in a way and I continue painting my small daily paintings to keep in shape :). But my true passion comes out when I am faced with a large blank canvas.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"