Saturday, September 30, 2017

Collage of 30 paintings in 30 days by Natasa Vretenar

Wow, I cannot believe I actually did another 30 in 30 challenge. I dared to go to a new, unexplored territory and attempted to do 30 figure paintings. I feel that this was a good experiment, to keep things fresh and challenging.

One of the goals for this month was to tone down the intense colors I love to work with, and see if I would survive, or if the world would collapse if I used a limited palette. Well, it turns out things are as they ever were, but I did manage to stick to only a few colors in this series even though I longingly stared at my neon Holbein tubes more than once (per day). I was strong mentally and did not succumb to this pressure from my own gray cells.

Another goal was to try and paint human figure. My friend and I went to Harcourt House figure drawing drop in sessions this month, and that helped me focus on portraying the human body as well. It is not easy to stay focused the entire month on one subject, especially if the subject is out of my comfort zone, so having support from other artists is important to me. As I kept painting human figure, I thought about different ideas that a painting can represent, and the end result is a mix of ideas representing idioms from different languages, proverbs, mythology, different emotions, or stages in one's life. I write down a lot of things in my sketchbook while creating these small paintings, and it is never clear which idea may or may not become a new series of my work.

I am happy I found a way to use the remaining 11" substrates I had left over from 150 in 150 days project. I still have a few of them left, and I would like to paint some flowers on them. I miss painting flowers and landscapes.

I create art, and art brings contentment.

Fertility Goddess Lada, painting by Natasa Vretenar

Thursday, September 28, 2017

It's a stretch II, painting by Natasa Vretenar

It is a final stretch for this challenge. I am spending a lot of time outside because the weather is absolutely amazing this week - trees are turning colors and temperatures are high in 20s!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Psyche, painting by Natasa Vretenar

 The story of Cupid and Psyche is centuries old, but is retold in countless ways in the modern times. Her story tells of dangerous curiosity, tests and punishments, and redemption through divine favor.

It may not look like it, but I put a lot of thought into these little paintings. When I do the small paintings challenge, I am more interested in putting the idea of a painting on a substrate, see how different backgrounds work for different subject matter, how colors interplay. Sometimes a good idea simply pops into my head and sometimes it slowly develops over time.

I am actually finishing up this September challenge today, a bit ahead of schedule. I have been swamped with life obligations and heading out on a mountain adventure tomorrow to catch some trees turning color. Larches should be at peak this weekend in Banff! I am excited about going to the mountains, even if it is just for a long weekend.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hear no Evil, painting by Natasa Vretenar

"Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety" Confucius

Monday, September 25, 2017

See no Evil, painting by Natasa Vretenar

"Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety" Confucius

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Speak no Evil, painting by Natasa Vretenar

"Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety"Confucius

Saturday, September 23, 2017

No Worries, painting by Natasa Vretenar

Today I went to check out the gallery walk on the 124th street in Edmonton with a friend. There are nine galleries on this block and they offer a variety of artwork. My favorite one was Peter Robertson gallery. Gentleman who was there (not sure if he was the owner) was friendly and welcoming. He introduced us to wonderful work by Steve Driscoll. I wish I saw the exhibit they had last year with water in the gallery - they actually flooded the gallery floor with 6 in of water! Other gallery greeters/owners were not even saying hello to potential customers. This is nothing new here (we have experienced this before during art walks or even opening nights at galleries in Edmonton) and it is definitely something that Edmonton gallerinas could improve on.

There are so many local artists that are amazing, and it is a pleasure to visit galleries to see what is represented here. Unfortunately, not many local artists are represented. Hopefully in the future that may change.

Here is my "No Worries" painting.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Spinning Cycle II, painting by Natasa Vretenar

A male version of the Spinning Cycle painting from a few days ago. It is really important for me to continue working on my art daily. Now that I have decided to not waste my time on applications for shows and grants that will never be fruitful, I have extra time to devote to actually creating. It is interesting how much time I spent on writing applications for exhibits. Even though I got about 50 rejections last year (yes, that is how many I sent out!, and yes it is a lot of work!) I do not see it as a complete waste of time. I spend a lot of time thinking about the show - from the seed ideas to creating art to getting my pieces to be display ready. Writing proposals actually helps me formulate what I am trying to do with my current or a future art series.

I think of these paintings during challenges as seeds for future series in larger format. Ideas jotted down on canvas, while practicing drawing proportions of human bodies, exploring different mediums and colors. Maybe these paintings are not the best I have produced, but they are a beginning of something beautiful.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tranquil, painting by Natasa Vretenar

I cherish the moments when I can sit quietly and read a book. Usually, I listen to the audiobooks while I work and it is really rare that I sit down and read.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

It's a Stretch, painting by Natasa Vretenar

Chugging along with this challenge. I am pushing my limits with the figure sketches and drawings and paintings. This entire month is devoted to human figure and I am at times struggling to keep going, but I promised myself I will stick with it and go on.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A bird in a hand, painting by Natasa Vretenar

Another idiom in English that I think of periodically is "A bird in a hand is worth two in the bush". Similar idiom in Serbo-Croatian is "A sparrow in hand is worth more than a pigeon on the branch".
It warns against taking risks and suggests that you should keep what you have and not risk losing it by going after more. The other reading of the meaning is that it refers to medieval falconry where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was a valuable asset and certainly worth more than two in the bush (the prey). It may well be that both of these meanings were intended by the coiners of this phrase, which may go some way to explaining why it has resonated over the centuries and is still in common use.

This painting only has hands in it so it is not quite a figure painting, but when I thought of a composition for this painting this image popped into my head and voila. Here it is.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Babysitter, painting by Natasa Vretenar

I try to limit the screen time, but it is impossible to completely get rid of the gadgets we use on a daily basis. I tease my family members that their eyes are becoming square from all the staring into the little glowing screen.

Baby's best friend...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

Menopause, painting by Natasa Vretenar

How to deal with the menopause? This is a taboo topic even in this day and age.
There are so many things that went through my head while thinking about this painting. The body changes, the invasive procedures to check for various cancers, hormonal ups and downs. Bones are losing density, are easily broken, breasts get lumpier, thyroid is sluggish, hair turning gray, body fat sticking around more.

There is a real epidemic of substance abuse in Northern America, especially among the middle aged women. Getting prescription drugs is too easy and socially acceptable. Are the pills really the answer?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bugs in the head, painting by Natasa Vretenar

The hardest thing about learning another language is learning the idioms. The phrases never translate directly from one language to another, although one can guess the meaning of the idiom. In a serbo-croatian language we say that a person "has bugs in their head" if they are behaving in a weird, irrational way.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Lift me up!, painting by Natasa Vretenar

One of the things I loved doing when I was a kid was to step on my dad's feet and we would walk around like that. As a parent, I love doing this with my kiddos too. They grow up so fast, it is important to spend time with kids, be in the present moment. When they say "Lift me up!" they do not realize that they are also lifting you up!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Amalgamation (of the previous versions of herself), painting by Natasa Vretenar

I started this painting with diamond pattern in the background - it symbolizes the diamond in a rough that a person sometimes is. He/she then transforms, hones their skills, different experiences shape them and guide them to be a better version of themselves... Every day, and every experience is an opportunity to grow.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Never look back, by Natasa Vretenar

The weather in Edmonton is absolutely perfect this week. Chilly in the mornings, sunny, clear from smoke, no mosquitoes. I have been taking advantage of it and take long walks in the ravine for a couple of hours. It is quiet in the forest, and quite peaceful. We are fortunate to have such an extended park trail network here - lived in Edmonton for five years and have not explored more than half of the trails in the city. While walking I think about what to paint next and many ideas pop in my head. I have to write them down in my sketchbook as soon as I come back home. I am mostly thinking about ideas for the small painting challenge, but these ideas are directly connected to another series I am working on and have been working on for a while. More on that later.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gravity defying, a painting by Natasa Vretenar

I love summers because I spend a lot of time with my kids - we had gazillion adventures and just as many conversations, jokes, and puns. I never take take this precious time with my family for granted. Today is the first day of school and everyone was excited to go back, even though it means having a busy schedule and an established routine. 

I have some personal fitness goals and one of them is to be able to do a hand stand again. I cannot remember when was the last time I did one. I am taking it slow, building the core muscles and shoulder strength. Here is my go at the Gravity Defying painting today. Sometimes the ideas evolve slowly, some never quite come out right. But I keep painting every day. And working out!

I decided to add fiber paste on this figure - partially to be reminded to take more fiber every day - so important for a healthy digestive system.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Bursting with energy, a painting by Natasa Vretenar

There is a short time in the third trimester when a burst of energy happens right before the labor. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Things that matter, by Natasa Vretenar

Oh, to come up with ideas for each painting! I try not to think too deep or too much about the painting when I do small painting challenges like this one. It is important to choose one theme (such as human figure) and stick with it. But, each individual painting emerges from imagination daily. I never really know where the painting will take me every day!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Checkered Past, by Natasa Vretenar

Painting challenges are a really good way to experiment - see what happens. 
I am trying to use as little as possible in terms of color and texture etc. That is a challenge for me, as I do like to work on big canvases with lots and lots of texture. 
11" diameter 3/4" thickness

Friday, September 1, 2017

Barefoot, by Natasa Vretenar

I have not painted a human figure in a long time, probably years! So for this challenge, I am going to paint 30 small human figure paintings. Looking forward to seeing what happens :).  I had some 11" diameter substrates leftover from my 150 in 150 days project and it will be just enough supports for this project. After this month I will be moving to other sizes and shapes of substrates.

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"