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!

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"