Thursday, December 31, 2015


I woke up early and could not go back to sleep. We had a beautiful sunrise on this crisp winter morning. It is the last day of 2015, and it is quiet here at home while I type. I enjoy these rare quiet moments when everyone is asleep and I drink my turkish coffee while looking at the mix of bright purple, orange and yellow colours in the sky.

I have been living in Canada for 3.5 years - the time has really flown by. We embraced the winter and stay active every day. We met many wonderful people and made a few friends. Edmonton feels like home.

I have good feelings about creating art in the next year. I devote more of my time to art every year, and my cozy studio has provided a refuge to create in solitude. I took a long and honest look at my paintings and realized that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have so many ideas I cannot wait to put on canvas! The first thing I am doing (starting tomorrow) is painting 30 small works in 30 days in January! This will be the third year I am doing it - I love that Leslie Saeta is doing it again. She has been an inspiration for me for many years, and her show and tips have helped me grow as an artist. My theme for January 2016 challenge is corvids. I have been sketching them for years (crows, ravens, magpies) and can't wait to actually paint a few more of them!

Here is one of the older paintings - "Legend" 12x12".

Monday, December 21, 2015

Summary of 2015

 2015 has been a great year for my development as an artist. The year started with a show at The Milner Gallery in Edmonton in January, where I displayed my large paintings of lakes, sunflower fields and forests.  This space is visited by many people and having a show there gives an emerging artist a good opportunity to show their work locally. I had a lot of feedback from this show and am grateful to have been juried in to show here.

I measured the nooks before painting the triptych so they fit perfectly into the spaces!

January was also quite busy with a 30 in 30 days project (it is becoming a tradition :)). The theme this year was "Remembering Bosnia" and I painted 30 paintings on different subjects related to my childhood and the place where I was born and raised. Here is the collage of all the paintings I painted.

I also participated in a group show at Harcourt House - "New Territories". There was a lot of great art in this show. I am happy to be a member, and hope to attend more educational events and classes they offer throughout the year. 

Another fun art show was held at Parkallen in the summer - it was only one day and it was great to meet other Edmonton artists and talk to people who visited the show. It was a very nice sunny day as well (until the evening when it rained for a little bit).

Another great place to show locally is The Carrot Gallery - it is a volunteer supported coffee shop/gallery/art space. My Wild Things were on display there in July! I am happy my art was there this year. Several people recognized my art style from this show when they visited MakeIt Edmonton!

I participated in VASA group show as well! What a great group of artists in St. Albert! 

I am delighted that my large painting Mysterious Forest was purchased by The Occupational Therapy Department at the University of Alberta as a part of their permanent collection! It looks great in their space and I am honoured that they chose my art!

 My art was juried to show at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital at their main gallery (Mezzanine Gallery) and was on display there until December 14, 2015. It is a great space to show big art pieces and contribute to healing and recovery of patients there! I am happy to have had this opportunity. The jury at GRH must really like my art since they chose me again for the 2016 programming! I am excited to show there again in August-September 2016.

Earlier in the year, I walked into Steeps Tea Lounge on Whyte and asked the owner Winston if I could show my art there. I ended up putting three shows on - small animal paintings, New Mexico paintings and large animals! Thank you Winston for supporting local art - it is much appreciated!

 I also became a Makie this year. This is a huge crafts show at Expo. It was a very busy 4 day show and an interesting experience.

My painting "Golden Calf" was chosen to be a part of Edmonton Environmental Report Calendar - it is for the month of April. I just received a copy of the calendar in the mail and it looks great!

One of the best things that happened this year is that I got a studio space and moved my studio there. I am very productive in my new space and am enjoying the solitude that it provides. I am looking forward to creating there in a new year. I am starting 2016 with a 30 in 30 days challenge again - this time I am painting corvids!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


It is a busy time of the year with all the activities in our life. I am still trying to put in a few hours of work every day.

I got great news - my art has been accepted again at Glenrose Hospital for 2016 programming! It will be on display in August and September, and this time I will exhibit my animals. Most likely all the paintings will be brand new :). The exhibit that is on now at GRH is coming down on the 14th of December. Thanks to all those who stopped by and enjoyed my paintings while they were on display there in the past two months! I am grateful for the opportunities that GRH art selection committee has given me and am looking forward to the next exhibit preparation!

My studio has been great so far - I go there to work almost daily. I have been quite productive there already. I still have an area set up at home to work on small paintings, and to work when the kids are not feeling well and have to stay at home. One does not need a lot of space to do the work, but it does help if there is more space available. This is especially important for those who work larger and need storage space for all the art! I am still thinking about the storage solutions for my studio. I am most likely getting some shelving at Costco (with wheels) to store my stuff. Once I get the shelving in - my studio will be pretty much set for a while!

I have also put 6 of my paintings up for auction at JP Fiset swim meet this weekend at Kinsmen. Proceeds benefit our Olympian Swim Club. I hope all paintings sell (well) and help us support our little fishes :).

These are the paintings that are open to bidding.

Monday, November 30, 2015

MakeIt Edmonton show experience, by Natasa Vretenar

I am always looking for places where I can show my art in public. There are two big craft shows in Edmonton - one at the Butterdome and another one at Expo - MakeIt Edmonton. I looked at both of them for a while and decided to take a plunge sometime in the first part of the year and pay for the MakeIt Edmonton booth. The reason why I chose MakeIt Edmonton over the Butterdome show is that there were more fine artists in the MakeIt show. Both shows feature a lot of craft makers, but MakeIt show had about 20 artists signed up already when I applied. Another thing that MakeIt show has is a lot of (paid) parking - makes it easier for customers to come and park. Both shows have entrance charge, so that is about the same for customers.

My husband is an amazing man and he helped me setup and take down the grid walls and paintings. It would have been hard to do it on my own, and I am grateful. We set up the entire booth a day before the show - this took about a couple of hours. Then the show opened up on Thursday at 10 am. I was there until 9 pm, as well as on Friday. There were a lot of moms with little babies lined up in front of the show even before it opened! I have never seen so many cute babies in one place :).
Lot of people passed by and a few stopped by my booth to chat and ask a few questions about the art. It was a long day and I realized it was a good thing to have my kindle on me to read a book to pass the time. After the first day I decided to bring my work with me to the show and paint.

Painting in front of people can be intimidating, especially at first. I have not done it in a long time, so I had my reservations about bringing my easel with me. I also did not plan on doing this so I had no idea what would be a good thing to paint over the weekend. I brought my paint and supports and easel anyways on the second day! I worked on two wolf paintings that first day.

On the third day I worked on buffalo and  magpie paintings

The last day I worked on another prairie storm painting.

It was great to bring work to the show - my time flew by and it helped connect with people visiting the show- they stopped to look at what i was doing and commented on my work, and asked questions. It was really fun to talk about my technique. My improvised studio was small but efficient, even though I did not bring any of my texture building gels and mediums. It goes to show that if there is a will - there will be a way to create art - even with a limited space, and limited time.

Some of my friends also stopped by and said hi. It is a pleasure to see someone you know at the shows. I made two sales - one couple bought a painting without realizing I was from the same ex-country as they were from :). It is good to run into someone who speaks your native language. Another lady bought one of my favourite rooster paintings. I think that people who buy my art feel what I am trying to express with my art - I don't think my art is just a pretty picture that goes on the wall or matches a piece of furniture.  I appreciate all the art lovers who buy my art and support my artistic journey. It is not an easy journey to take in terms of financial matters, but it is a journey that is filled with continuous personal growth and introspection. I am looking forward to the future and creating more art.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

At the show

I am in my booth 618 at make it Edmonton. A lot of people are visiting the show. I am here today until 9 pm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Summer in the North by Natasa Vretenar


I like to paint in series. This is one of my aspen series paintings that I really like - the texture, thick paint and aspen trees densely populating the painting.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Small gems I am taking to MakeIt Edmonton

These are just a few paintings I am taking with me to MakeIt Edmonton this week from Thursday to Sunday. I will be in my booth #618 all day each day. I hope that there will be a lot of visitors to stop by the booth and see my art in person and to meet me.

I decided to use one wall in my booth for small gems - these paintings will be $100 or less each. I love to paint big but I also paint a lot of small paintings to try out new things and hone my painting skills. This is a wonderful opportunity to purchase and own one of my original paintings at a great price.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Other benefits of preparing for the show

Putting together a show is a lot of work. From choosing a theme, to finding a place where to exhibit to doing the actual paintings, it takes many months to put everything together.

One of the important things about the shows is that it forces me to review my inventory and label everything and a lot of times even rework the paintings I want to take to the show. I spent several days this week going through my paintings and packed quite a few of them in polyethylene bags to take to the show next week. I find that the polyethylene bags work well (4 mil) for my acrylic paintings to protect them in transit to and from the show. They are of course not environment friendly but I reuse them and store my paintings in them to protect them from dust and scratching. I order them from U-Line here in Canada. Their shipping is fast and reliable for many supplies I needed (including grid wall accessories).

I have mostly packed my floral paintings so far, but three bears are going as well. I am sure there will be more animals ready to go by next week.

Friday, November 20, 2015

MakeIt Edmonton, Natasa Vretenar

I like painting this size paintings. I have a few more sizes that I prefer and these days I try to stick to these few sizes, as it helps with storage and framing issues.

I am going through my inventory today all day and finding nice gems to take with me to the show. One of the paintings is this "Spring is Here" painting - I just love the colours and textures on this one.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Koi IX, Natasa Vretenar

This is the last one in this series for now! 16x12"

All of these paintings are now varnished and I am going to buy some frames and will take them to the MakeIt Edmonton show next week. I can't believe we have less than a week before the show. Tempus fugit!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Koi VIII, Natasa Vretenar


Got busy today with varnishing and preparing paintings for the show. The prep time is demanding and long. It takes a while to put all the hanging gear on the back of the paintings. I also needed new frames for all the koi paintings. These are done on a canvas panel so they need to be framed.

I am working on the smaller pieces at home when kids get sick or if there are other pressing issues, and have several large paintings in progress at the studio. I find it that when i do one thing right (for example dedicate my day to painting), everything else suffers no matter how well i plan things out.
I am working hard to have everything ready for the show next week. The show starts on Thursday and lasts 4 days until Sunday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Koi VII by Natasa Vretenar


In this series, I started the panels with black gesso. I like black gesso because the colours pop out as you layer paint on top of it. Then I used some blue LUKAS paint I had (it is a thick acrylic paint, great for adding texture) to create water ripples. You can see this in the above painting around fish heads the most.  Once that layer of paint was sufficiently dry, i continued with glazing and with building the koi texture and transparency. This 12x16" series was a lot of fun to do and I learned a lot by playing with different texture building mediums. I am ready to move on to the larger panels and work on more koi in the near future.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Koi VI by Natasa Vretenar


I had a nice pond stocked with koi in Albuquerque, NM. It was delightful to watch the fish swim around, eat their food and splash. The pond attracted butterflies and dragonflies and was surrounded with native fragrant and hardy plants. A lot of my reference photos for this koi series come from that pond in our backyard.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Koi pond by Natasa Vretenar


I was convinced that these panels were 11x14" until i bought some frames for them! Guess what - they are a bit bigger :) 12x16".

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"