Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wrapping it up by Natasa Vretenar

Today was the last day of my show at Milner Gallery and we picked up the paintings. Thank you to all who had a chance to stop by and look at my paintings - hope you enjoyed the show!

This month went by really quickly - I stuck with the challenge and am glad I painted 30 paintings in 30 days. I painted several large paintings and that is an accomplishment as well, especially considering that someone in my family was sick every day this month (including me for a few weeks!). We are all feeling better after a nice week of wonderful, warm weather (above zero in January!).

My goal in painting daily small paintings is to practice, to try out new materials, techniques, different brand paints and media. This month I used Kroma paint from a manufacturer in BC. I like the brightness of colour, and have mixed feelings about the thickness of the paint. It works great for me when I use modelling paste to build up the layers in my painting. I find it is not as great to use in huge thick chunks as it dries slower than Golden acrylic paint and is thinner so bubbles may form. For me that could be a bonus though - depending what I am painting. I will continue playing with Kroma paint, and will order more colours soon. So far, I used yellows and reds, and they are wonderful.

All of the challenge paintings are on my pinterest page as well :).

Here is the collage of my 30 in 30 days paintings from January 2015.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 30, 30 in 30 days, Poppies in the wheat field by Natasa Vretenar

Wow, I made it through the challenge. It was not an easy one for several reasons. First, someone was sick every day this month in our family - we just could not shake off the colds, coughs, fever etc.  A lot of thinking went into this series and I stuck to happy subjects and lovely landscapes, symbols, historical details from my motherland.

All of these paintings are somehow related to Bosnia and Hercegovina, and a lot of them are something that reminds me of my childhood and bring back happy memories of growing up in the former Yugoslavia. I wanted to work on a series of paintings about Bosnia for a long time and doing daily paintings for 30 days in a row was a good way to start it!

When doing a theme like this for a whole month, it keeps me focused and I don't expect to make a great painting every day. I consider each painting a practice, an exercise for trying new techniques, new materials, new supports. And each painting is an idea. A snapshot of something that can be used later for a larger painting in the future.

The last painting for day 30 is a wheat field with poppies and a farm house before the storm. It is 24x36".

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 28, 30 in 30 days, Pigeon by Natasa Vretenar

A lot of people I met over the years have no idea where Bosnia is. Those who have heard of the place, want to immediately talk about the war. Of course, they are experts on war too.

For me, BiH was a place of a magnificent natural beauty, with lots of untouched forests, mountain tops with amazing vistas, meadows filled with flowers, place where horses, wolves, bears, cougars, lynx roam free. A place where I happily roamed for the 17 years of my life.

For this painting, I return to my brighter palette - I really tried to tone things down in the last few paintings. Not for this one though :)
Bascarsija is the old town Sarajevo and there are tons of pigeons hanging out on the main plaza.
Pigeons always remind me of Sarajevo and feeding them when I was a child.

A dove flew off one day from Bascarsija, on a trip around the world... Never to return back...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 27, Latinska Cuprija by Natasa Vretenar

Latinska ćuprija (od 1918-1992 nosio naziv Principov most) je jedan od najstarijih sarajevskih mostova, a mijenjao se s vremenom, od prvog drvenog mosta, koji je stajao na istom tom mjestu, pa sve do današnjeg oblika.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Perućica - Rainforest, Day 26, 30 in 30 days challenge by Natasa Vretenar

One of the few remaining old forests in Europe is in BiH. Perucica is in a National Park and is untouched by humans. Some of the forest is very dense and one has to have an experienced guide to enter the forest.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mahala, Day 23, 30 in 30 days challenge by Natasa Vretenar

My first home was in old town Sarajevo, Baščaršija. Many streets in old town are steep and narrow, with influences of Ottoman architecture.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pomegranate, Day 21, 30 in 30 days challenge, Nar (Šipak) by Natasa Vretenar

I am back to painting a few small paintings. I really enjoy painting large supports, and when I paint a big one it is a bit hard to go back to a small daily painting. This pomegranate painting is 8x10".

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bijeli Jelen, Day 19, 30 in 30 days, 24x36" by Natasa Vretenar


Forests of BiH are full of animals, deer, lynx, bears, wolves etc.

We read a lot while growing up in Bosnia. We had so many interesting books by native speakers, many of them involving magical creatures, or worlds in which animals were equal to people and had powers to speak to humans.

One of those books is a book by Vladimir Nazor called White Deer.

Here is a detail from the antler - i used coarse medium to make the antler texture this time. Every painting is a new playground for me. I love to try new things, new mediums to create different textures.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 18, 30 in 30 days, Na Drini Cuprija, The Bridge on Drina River by Natasa Vretenar


There are many beautiful rivers, lakes in BiH. One of the rivers is Drina river - it has the most beautiful green teal colour.

The Bridge on the Drina (Serbian: На Дрини ћуприја, sometimes restyled as The Bridge Over the Drina, is a novel by Yugoslavianwriter Ivo Andrić. Andrić wrote the novel while living quietly inBelgrade during World War II, publishing it in 1945. Andrić was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his entire literary work (of which this novel is best known) in 1961.

The Bridge on the Drina revolves around the town of Višegrad and the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge over the Drina river. The story spans about four centuries during the Ottoman and subsequentlyAustro-Hungarian administrations of the region and describes the lives, destinies and relations of the local inhabitants, with a particular focus on Muslims and Orthodox Christians living in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1]

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 17, 30 in 30 days, Bosanski cilim by Natasa Vretenar

My grandma was a weaver and she made many woven products - bags, rugs etc. The items we had that she made had mostly green, red, black, white and brown wool. Wool was from their sheep, so everything was homemade. She even hand dyed her wool in these bright colours. Details on these rugs can be quite intricate, and I always loved how designs are not perfect or exactly the same size everywhere on the rug.

This little painting is a small example of details that may be on a bosnian rug.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 16, 30 in 30 days, Dunja, Quince by Natasa Vretenar

The smell of quinces coming from the top of a wardrobe is one of those childhood memories that are deeply engrained. 6x12"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 15, 30 in 30 days, Šafrani by Natasa Vretenar


Thinking of Spring time in BiH. My family went for long hikes in the mountains and it was such a delight to see the saffron flowers sprout everywhere.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 14, 30 in 30 days, "At RIver Bosna Spring", 6x12" by Natasa Vretenar


Another scene from Vrelo Bosne.

Central Bosnia has continental climate and lots of rain. Everything is so green - teal, phtalo, light, dark - any green you desire - you will see it at Vrelo Bosne! It is a beautiful place to take a stroll and go for a nice walk. One can even take an old fashioned carriage from Ilidza to Vrelo Bosne.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 13, 30 in 30 days, Bosna River Spring, 6x12" by Natasa Vretenar


From WP:

Vrelo Bosne (pronounced [ʋrê.lo bôs.neː]; English: Spring of the Bosna River) is the spring of the River Bosna located in the central region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, southwest of Sarajevo. It is one of the country's top natural landmarks and is one of the most famous scenes of natural beauty in the region.[citation needed]

The park is usually entered by foot or, for a reasonable price, by horse-carriage via the main avenue leading into it. The avenue itself contains traditional buildings from the Austro-Hungarian-era offering a peek into the luxuries of the past.

The paths and roads inside the park are ideal for walks and give the visitors the opportunity to take a closer look at the bubbling streams and waterfalls. Outdoor cafés are available offering drinks and snacks but opening times vary from season to season. Typical animals are ducks and swans among others.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Grandma's Mandarin Oranges, 6x12", 30 in 30 days Day 12 by Natasa Vretenar

There is a small part of Adriatic coast that belongs to Bosnia and Hercegovina. Mandarin oranges grow there in abundance in a Mediterranean climate.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 10, Mountain Shelter, 30 in 30 days by Natasa Vretenar

Koi I and II have a new home by Natasa Vretenar

I am happy to say that these paintings have found a wonderful new home! My friend purchased them for her daughter's birthday. I think it is fantastic to introduce young people to original art and teach them to appreciate it from a young age. I am thrilled that she likes my paintings and will have them displayed in her newly renovated room! Each painting is 24x30".

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 9, 30 in 30 days, Stećak, 9x12" - Bosnian Medieval Tombstone by Natasa Vretenar

It has been quite a beginning of the year! One week has already gone by and it has been quite productive.

I managed to paint 9 paintings, including a big bear painting. I was asked if I painted it in one day and the answer is - no way! I always have different supports prepared for painting, and some canvases or boards painted with a layer or a few layers of background colours. Sometimes, the painting ends up being something completely different than what I initially had in mind. I also like to prepare several canvases with similar background colours. So I took one of those large canvases with background already partially done and painted my bear on it a few days ago. It has heavily textured fur (I used acrylic heavy gel this time for texture) and that took another day to dry properly before I could apply more paint layers on it. While the fur texture dried I added many more painting elements.

It has been really busy here this week - lots of things going on with family, and I consider it a huge accomplishment that I have been painting every day. I also sent in a few letters to places I would like to exhibit, set up a solo show at Milner gallery, started writing a proposal for another exhibit for next year and to top it all - my dear friend bought paintings from me this week!

I am grateful that I do what I love and that my work is appreciated. Thank you for joining me on my art journey!

Here is my painting for day 9.

Zapis o vremenu
Mak Dizdar

Davno sam ti legao
I dugo ti mi je
Da trava mi kosti
Da crvi mi meso
Da stekoh tisuću imena
Da zaboravih svoje ime
Davno sam ti legao
I dugo ti mi je

Day 8, 30 in 30 days challenge, Most na Žepi, 12x12" by Natasa Vretenar

Ne Ruši Sve Mostove

Ne ruši sve mostove, možda ćeš se vratiti.
Nisi ptica ni leptir obalom što leti,
Kad nema mostova uzalud je čeznuti,
Uzalud je shvatiti, uzalud je hteti.
Ne ruši sve mostove, možda ćeš se vratiti.
Ostavi bar jedan most između srca i mene.
U samoći je lakše neshvaćeno shvatiti,
Mogle bi te nazad nagnati uspomene...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 7, 30 in 30 days, Badnjak by Natasa Vretenar

You can find more info on Badnjak at the link above.

Колико варница, толико среће у овој кући.
Колико варница, толико у домаћинском џепу новаца.
Колико варница, толико у тору оваца.
Колико варница, толико прасади и јагањаца.
Колико варница, толико гусака и пилади,
а највише здравља и весеља.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 6, 30 in 30 days, "Medvjed" by Natasa Vretenar

The bear (ursus arctos) is the largest animal in Bosnia and Hercegovina. I have never seen one in the wild, but they are definitely there! A few years back a shepherd killed a bear with his bare hands in Hercegovina. They can grow to be quite large - up to 450 kg.

This painting is 36x48" - a large one. I feel more comfortable painting large. My imagination has room to roam. Tomorrow I will be back to small painting though - i do like a good challenge and honing my skills to paint small details with a palette knife.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Skakavac waterfall, Day 5, 30 in 30 days by Natasa Vretenar

I had a bit of a hard time with this painting. it is 8x16" but the scale of the waterfall is huge and I would love to do a large painting of it at some point. Working smaller after making some really large paintings in December has been a challenge these past 5 days! 
There are plants growing under the waterfall and there are many colours in the rock behind which are difficult to capture. I also toned down my palette big time for this painting.


From Wiki:

Skakavac is a waterfall located 12 km from Sarajevo, the capital ofBosnia and Herzegovina. Its height is about 98 m.

The Skakavac waterfall near Sarajevo is one of the greatest and most attractive waterfalls in BiH and it stands for a real tourist attraction. The waterfall is 98 metres high and placed in the landscape of exceptional beauty. The surroundings are one of the most heterogenic areas in that region dominated by spruce and fir and beech and fir forests with spruce on more pronounced slopes. On shallow carbon grounds in the vicinity of the waterfall, there are termofil forests and underbrushes of eastern hornbeam and autumn locust as well as eastern hornbeam and manna ash. The rocks surrounding the waterfall have a very interesting vegetation dominated by endemic and relic types. The waterfall at Skakavac is for more than one reason, one of the most attractive tourist sites in the vicinity of Sarajevo.

The name Skakavac means grasshopper

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Day 4, 30 in 30 days, Tornjak / Bosnian Mountain Sheep Dog by Natasa Vretenar

6x12" on birch cradled panel

These dogs are so beautiful! They are tough, modest and protective dogs, sheep herders. 

Tornjak has a calm temperament. A typical adult Tornjak is very calm, peaceful, at first sight an indifferent animal, but when the situation demands it, it is a vigilant and very alert watchdog. The character of Tornjak is equal to the temperament, they are not nervous and not aggressive in general, they are very tough not too demanding sturdy dogs. With their human family they are very emotional. When the Tornjak live in a pack they are highly social animals and there isn't any fighting between the pack members. Towards strangers or other animals, as a rule, Tornjak is not overly aggressive. But when the situation calls upon it, Tornjak is quite decisive and it can without any consideration attack even much stronger rivals. Shepherds used to say that a Tornjak who guards the flock is a fair match to two wolves, and a couple will confront and chase away a bear without any undue respect. In these situations Tornjaks are very tenacious.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day 3, 30 in 30 days challenge, "Bosnian Horse" by Natasa Vretenar

12x12" on acrylic archival paper
Bosanski Brdski Konj "Bosnian Horse"

These horses are stocky, tough, winter hardy and grow thick hair in the winter to protect them from the elements and harsh winters in high elevations of Bosnia. They survived throughout centuries in this place and are beautiful to watch.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Serene Vistas at Milner Gallery in Downtown Edmonton! by Natasa Vretenar

I just put up my solo show at Milner Gallery in Downtown Edmonton. Here are the paintings that are on the display. If you have a chance, stop by to see them in person - texture is hard to capture on a photo!
The show will run until the end of the month January 2 - January 31, 2015.

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"