Friday, June 30, 2017

I just cannot stop making art

There are times when I ask myself why do you do this, and should I quit being an artist full time. I always come to the same conclusion - I cannot stop being an artist. This is who I am.

When I got interviewed for my Canada 150 project, I was asked who was funding this project. The question surprised me a bit. I am the one who thought the project up and designed the custom substrates, found someone to make them for me in a timely manner, and then worked on painting the 150 paintings for solid 4 months, rain or shine, no excuses, until the project was completed! I never thought about not doing it because someone needs to fund it first. I am certain it would have never gotten done if that was the case. What I mean by this is that I am having a hard time just finding the space to show the work here in Edmonton when the project is completed and ready to be hung, and there is simply no interest in this Canada 150 project here.

I cherish what happened during the 4 months I focused mainly on the Canada 150 project. I was able to stay focused, and come up with 150 paintings that represent Canada in some way. I pushed myself to talk to Canadians and learned a lot of things about Canada - some good and some bad. When we moved to Canada, I had a lot of preconceived notions about Canada and over the years I learned what it is really like living here, what long winters mean etc. Doing this project has opened my horizons quite a bit, especially regarding history and politics in Canada. Fascinating stuff!

In any case, I will keep trying to find good venues to show my work locally, and most importantly - I keep working on my art daily.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

School is out!!!

My kids love to be in school - it is a good experience for all of them, but we all love even more when the summer vacation is here. The weather is nice and we are ready to roam around outside as much as possible. Kids promised to kick my butt and motivate me to get in shape. They are so energized and athletic, they have their work cut out for them with me lol.

Exercise, sunshine and fresh air - that is our goal this summer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Transformation show is up at Glenrose

The show is up until August 16, 2017. This exhibit is inspired by an ancient tale of a huge school of golden koi swimming upstream the Yellow River in China. Gaining strength by fighting against the current, the school glimmered as they swam together through the river. When they reached a waterfall at the end of the river, many of the koi turned back, letting the flow of the river carry them away.

The remaining koi refused to give up. Leaping from the depths of the river, they attempted to reach the top of the waterfall to no avail. Their efforts caught the attention of local demons, who mocked their efforts and heightened the waterfall out of malice. After a hundred years of jumping, one koi finally reached the top of the waterfall. The gods recognized the koi for its perseverance and determination and turned it into a golden dragon, the image of power and strength.

I am still looking for a big room or a big wall where I can exhibit my Canada 150 paintings. I have received about 25 rejections this year  for my Canada 150 project. This has been an interesting experience and I learned so much about Canada while doing it. Even though nobody here is interested in my Canada 150 series, I am happy to have done it - it is truly a series that marks the beginning of a new direction in my art. That process of evolution of my art is invaluable to me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Koi-D1 koi painting by Natasa Vretenar

As we go through life, we change. Change is triggered by life events - like going away to college, or having a child, or getting a job, or a death of a loved one. Sometimes we continue swimming up the stream and sometimes we let the water float us down the stream. And sometimes, we set the goal that is not easy to achieve, and we have to swim against the current and be strong to reach that goal. The journey transforms us, and the journey can be long and sometimes painful. On this journey there are plenty failures, and acknowledging this can sometimes be the hardest part.

This series has a deep meaning to me - it is all about persistence and tenacity and growth. I made 14 paintings with the dragon skin border. As the moment of transformation approaches, the border grows and the skin becomes more visible. This painting has a smaller border, meaning that the koi are just beginning their journey. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Beautiful places

Nature wise, I have lived in some of the most beautiful places on Earth - ex-Yugoslavia, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Alberta. All of these places have distinct landscapes and climate, and very different from each other.  In the summer time Alberta is gorgeous, and I am hoping that this summer we will be able to get out to the lakes more often.

Mt. Rundle, 11" diameter

Sunday, June 25, 2017


I completed the final piece for the show Koi-Dragon at the Glenrose. I will be setting it up on Thursday this week and it will be up for 6 weeks until mid August.

There are many transformations that took place in my life, and right now I feel like my art is undergoing transformation.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Horseback riding

You know when you meet someone and you just know it is not going to work out because you have an instant dislike for that person? That is what it was like with Clem. He turned his head away from me when I approached him, snorted arrogantly, and started walking away from me to get a drink of water. Unfortunately, we were stuck together, kind of like in a marriage arranged by others, and I tried to make it work. Rode him through a muddy, mosquitoey trail, gently nudging him all the way to catch up with our friends. It was all fine with little hiccups for a bit, and then he decided to be a real jerk, speeding up randomly, eating grass, stopping suddenly - to his credit he started acting up when some people spooked him while chopping wood on the side of the trail. Clem and I had our differences, but he sure gave me a good workout. Horseback riding is not for the faint of heart!
I think I may just paint you, Clem.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

The valley of 10 peaks

One of the most magnificent places on our planet is this - Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. Lucky to have a sunny (albeit windy) day on the Moraine Lake. Canoeing is a great upper body workout for the whole family. Humbling experience, engaging probably about 600 muscles in a body to fight that wind. Fortunately, it was pushing against us in the first part of the paddle to the other side of the lake. Coming back was a breeze (pun intended).

Once upon a time I painted you for my #Canada150 project. I really enjoyed making paintings for this project and interactions with fellow Canadians along the way. My favourite (yes, I spell like a Canadian while I live here) part of living in Canada is exploring its really, really, terrifying, wild nature and meeting as many of its animal kingdom inhabitants. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Creative process is ever changing

I have been working on a large painting to complete koi-dragon series, and it has been a blast. Lots of texture, crackle medium, colour and bling. Layers of it! As I put more layers on, the painting changes and deviates from the original idea. Since there are many layers I have to wait a long time for the paint to dry and it takes a while to complete the painting, even if I work on it on consecutive days. That is why I always have several projects going on at the same time in different stages of progress. Here is one of my 2 ft diameter koi paintings from the series.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


These birds are the symbol of the West for me. They have been my neighbours for 25 years, whether in AZ, or NM or CO or now in Alberta. I see them as tough creatures, capable of surviving the most harsh conditions. They are beautiful in their ability to adopt to challenges of living in desolate places. I like to observe the sheen of their feathers and beautiful shades of green and blue.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Moose paintings

The animal I always associated Canada with is the moose. There was a couple of young ones who came through our neighbourhood a few years ago. It was strange to see them in an urban setting like that. Those two are actually the only two I saw in Canada in five years we have lived here. They are elusive in the wild - I spotted a lot of wildlife on our travels through the mountains: wolves, caribou, bears, birds, elk, deer, goats, sheep etc. , but never a moose. This is surprising to me since we saw a lot of them every time we went to Estes Park in CO. Canadian moose are more shy I suppose (or just not that used to humans as those in CO).

This is the first painting of a moose I did "In a Rut" 36x60".

This one is a part of my #Canada150 project, 11" diameter.

Friday, June 2, 2017


Motherhood is a challenging job - kids change so fast and morph into different persons overnight! It is imperative to stay a step ahead of them at all times. Children have taught me a lot of things over the years and I am grateful for the lessons they provided so far.

Today is a rainy day in Edmonton. It is a great day to work on a new large painting and do some cooking.
One thing we are working on is to improve everyone's cooking skills. I used to use an egg timer (the type you put in the water and indicates when it is done with shrinking egg inside it) to hard boil eggs but it was not working anymore. Today I found a perfect method (thank you google!) to make hard boiled eggs - bring them to rolling boil from cold water, take them off the stove, cover and time for 12 minutes then drain the water! They came out perfect. I am still learning to cook and am grateful for internet :). Kids also enjoy cooking and finding recipes. For example my boy made some delicious popsicles yesterday from a made-from-scratch smoothie. They were delightful and are already gone!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bee painting from Canada 150 project is sold

I am so excited that it will be beautifying a room of a lovely newborn baby. I am grateful for all the parents out there who introduce their children to art from the day they are born! Thank you T and M for your purchase.

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"