Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What's Left Unsaid - Harcourt House Member Show in June and July 2017

I dropped off my three paintings for the group show at the Harcourt House - this show will open on June 22nd and will be up until mid July 2017. There are a lot of amazing artists affiliated with the Harcourt House and the show is a real treat to see every year. My entries are from the Windows series - "Neighbourhood Watch", "Where the Babies really Come From", and "The Rainbow Sheep of the Family". I have not shown these paintings publicly anywhere yet. Each painting is 20x16" on a gallery cradled birch panel.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Uninstructed live model drawing sessions

I have been meaning to go to the uninstructed drop in sessions at the Harcourt House for a long time, but never had time before due to kids schedules, or just being too tired to go there. Finally, I was able to go yesterday and it was a great experience. Our model was male, and there were 2, 5, 10, 18 and 60 minute poses. It was 3 hours of pure fun.

For this session I brought my sketch book and drawing pencils. I will bring along some other bigger paper in the future. It was an enjoyable and good learning experience. Drawing is good for the soul!

Here is one of my sketches (18 minute pose) from yesterday. This picture is a bit distorted with barrel distortion (taken by computer camera) but it shows what I was able to capture in a short time. The more you look at the model the more you see - small folds in the skin, how the light falls onto the body. For me it was important to be able to catch the proportions of the body and the pose as good as I could in such a short time.

Today I am putting some hanging wire on the back of the Canada 150 paintings and preparing more substrates for future projects. Prep work is time consuming but important part of the process. I am grateful that I can take care of my sick child at home today, thankfully he is getting better already.
Pollen and dust affect us more than we would like to admit.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Social media break and real life

I really love Facebook and how it allowed me to get in contact with a lot of people who were once in my life (especially from ex-Yugoslavia), and I am grateful that it "introduced" me to so many wonderful artists whom I would have never even know about. However, it also became a time sink for me - spent way too much time scrolling through posts. It is time to quit cold turkey - no more posts on any social media. I will be writing here and post my new work on my blog and website regularly. 

The weather in Edmonton is great now (except for the mosquitoes) - we are spending as much time outdoors as possible. I am taking reference photos of the different spots in the ravine and getting ready for my next winter's project. I am planning to do a series of the ravine paintings.

I have been off social media for a few days only and it has been great. Being present in the moment without distractions is a wonderful thing for the mind. It is amazing how much more I accomplished - caught up on several big projects in the home, worked out more, sketched several new painting ideas etc. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cemetery Flowers, by Natasa Vretenar

Every painting is a step forward and toward my next series and development as an artist, even if it is a "bad painting" or a sketch. There are some ideas that are in my head that have been evolving slowly over time and I am starting to work on them. In the mean time I am also painting these small 11" diameter NM challenge paintings - just because I love NM and enjoy painting with this group - scenes that I am familiar with and I have seen with my own eyes while traveling through. This painting is of artificial flowers on a wire fence in the cemetery. It could be any cemetery or even a makeshift memorial on the side of the road.

The link for Let's Paint New Mexico website is 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Along the Jemez River, by Natasa Vretenar

I am missing NM a bit these days. This is another challenge for the Let's paint NM group. I still may work on it later but I am done for now. I just love Jemez river and especially the hot springs!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Our Lady I-VI

Each painting is 18x3" on a 1.5" cradled birch panel. On each side I painted 3D roses on each painting. These paintings are labor intensive - I use crackle medium to achieve the old cracked look and this alone takes 3-4 solid days to dry. There are many layers of paint and also, it takes a lot of paint to build up all the roses. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Our Lady VI - 2017, by Natasa Vretenar

It has been as busy as ever around here. I still have a lot of paintings to varnish from my Canada 150 project and I got to do some of them this morning. They are drying now, while I prepare a couple of large substrates for my next two big paintings. I am excited to paint a few big ones. They require a lot of work and preparation (both mental and material). 


Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Lady IV - 2017, by Natasa Vretenar

A few years ago I painted three paintings like these and they sold. I miss seeing them around so I decided to paint a few more. I really enjoy painting "Our Lady" series. These paintings are on a 18x3" birch panel on a 1.5" thick cradle. I paint every side of the painting with highly textured roses.  The roses are on top, bottom and sides of the painting. 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rejection and opportunities

Yesterday I had a record of four rejections in my email. I got a bit bummed out, but all was better after a few hours spent with my family. Sometimes, a situation that is not an ideal one turns out to be a blessing in disguise. There is so much to be grateful for.

Now I feel motivated to finish up a few projects I put aside for a while. Today I was able to prep two large supports (to finish dragon-koi series) and 12 little ones (to catch up on my Let's paint NM challenges).

I also did some experimenting with the flexible modelling paste and pouring medium. I love to work on my projects and when I finish one, the new projects tie into what I have been working previously. I feel like I do not have enough time to do all the things I want to do.

They are cutting the grass in the field outside our condo building and it smells so good! Sun is shining, everything is rapidly turning green, grass and trees are looking better every day. Edmonton is looking good these days.

Here is my painting for the Challenge #12 in Let's Paint New Mexico group.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sunny days

The weather has been wonderful, so I have been spending most of the time outdoors. We went to Botanic Garden for the Japanese kid day and there were hardly any people there this time. We practically went from winter straight into the summer. I am so happy to have the sun shining, and I love being outside all day, that I do not mind pushing off my next few projects for a few days.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Beautiful day in Edmonton

This is what is happening today in Edmonton! 28 degrees and sunshine. I am happy.

I am using this wonderful weather to put in some exercise outdoors, and work outside on a terrace. Today I had a chance to think in depth about 2 or 3 projects I had in mind for a while, but could not get to because I wanted to finish the Canada 150 project. I am excited to work on something else for a change. I really like how #canada150 project turned out and what direction it took me, but I really missed my palette knives and bigger substrates!

I am not sure if this is normal for other artists, but I find different kind of inspiration when I work on different kind of substrates. When I work on smaller substrates, I get more detail oriented, and on bigger paintings I love to paint loose. I also miss painting animals, so pretty soon I should have a few larger paintings of animals in works.

There is another project I will be working on in the next few weeks - finishing up the challenges for Let's paint NM website. It brings me a bit closer to my favourite place on Earth.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Canada 150 project summary

Here it is - a collage of all the paintings I completed for the Canada 150 project. Enjoy it! Each painting is made with a lot of love by me. It starts with an idea for each painting, carefully picking a subject matter, colours, design, composition. I think that first step is the most important - planning the painting! It takes a while to prepare the substrates properly, and I do this in small batches - sealing, gessoing, layering the first few paint layers. I always had a few extra substrates ready on hand, just in case I felt more productive on any given day.

This was such a fun project - it took me 124 consecutive days to finish 150 11" diameter paintings. One day late in 2016 I was thinking about what to do and came up with the idea to do 150 paintings. I ordered custom substrates, and started painting away - first the animals that live in Canada and then other subjects that are related to living in Canada. 

There were many times when I would lose steam and take a break from the project for a few days, but the key to successfully completing the project was a constant support from my friends on social media, and getting myself to work every day! I did 30 in 30 days projects before and that was challenging - but this project was intense. I am so glad I stuck with it and completed all 150 paintings to commemorate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. 

I learned a lot about Canada and its people during this project. I asked many people what it means to them to be a Canadian, why they are happy or proud to be a Canadian etc. It was a lovely experience, and I feel that there is so much more to explore and learn about Canada.  

#150 Three Sisters, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

And here it is - my last painting in the #canada150 series! I have been working on this project for 4 months and really enjoyed doing it. It turned out to be a bit more challenging than what I expected. I pushed my limits and took my work in a new direction, and developed several new projects along the way - but more about that later!

#149 Hoodoos, Canada 150 paintings by Natasa Vretenar

Badlands in Alberta is a great place to visit. The landscape is different from anything else, almost feels like you are in another world. 

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"