Monday, December 31, 2018

Summary of 2018

I started 2018 with another 30 in 30 days project, lead by Leslie Saeta. My theme this year was "Mother". I like to start the year with full force and create intensely and every day. The results are not always good paintings but it brings a lot of creativity out of me.
Here is the collage of all the paintings

This year I was fortunate to travel to many beautiful places. We explored a lot of places in Alberta we have not been to before - we are lucky to live in such a beautiful place with amazing nature. Travel is really nice, and a great learning and bonding experience for our family, but it does interfere with the daily painting practice. This year I mostly did a lot of research and sketching, and took several online courses to dig deeper into my art practice. It has been a crazy and fun, and also somewhat difficult journey. 

My favorite is to work on large canvases and I was able to make a few large paintings as well this year. I tend to work smaller these days because of the space limitations and it is a treat to work on larger pieces. 

I finally found a space to show about 50 of my Canada 150 paintings - at the Whitemud Library in Edmonton. In spite of my tremendous effort to find a place to show all 150 paintings, it never happened, even though I really wanted to share my enthusiasm for living in Canada and its many beautiful animals and landscapes. Oh well. Glad to at least show these 50. 

I wrapped the year with an exhibit at the Westmount Library in Edmonton where I am showing my poppy and landscape paintings until January 2019. 

Hope everyone's year was as fun and as productive as mine, and cheers to the New 2019 Year!  

Friday, November 16, 2018

My paintings are now at Westmount Library in Edmonton

I have some of my floral and tree large paintings on display at Woodcroft library in Westmount until January. It is really nice to show my work locally and EPL offers numerous spaces in different libraries throughout the city to show work through their community art gallery program. I chose to display my poppy paintings too since Remembrance Day is in November too!

I am also taking another online class with Ardith Goodwin and having lots of fun in it with distortion! I am not sure how to use that in my existing work but it will probably all be useful at some time in the future.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Kaleido festival and Stollery Gallery

My painting "Three Generations" is going to be at the Stollery Gallery at Nina Hagerty Centre for Arts in Edmonton during the Kaleido festival.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Whitemud Library

Part of my Canada 150 (about the third of the paintings) project is now on display at the Whitemud library in Edmonton. EPL has spaces in local libraries for local artists to show their work and share with the community. I am excited to finally show at least some of my Canada 150 paintings in public. I enjoyed doing that project, doing research on which animals and plants thrive in Canada, and talking to people about what it means to them to be a Canadian. It was an educational experience for me for sure!

Friday, July 6, 2018


I have not been writing for a while because the weather has been wonderful here. When it is sunny and warm, I have the urge to spend as much time as possible outside. There are a lot of things happening in Edmonton in the summer so we are taking the advantage of nice weather and events whenever possible. Of course there are regular life things going on and I let them take over for a bit. However, I am ready to get back to serious work and continue painting and creating.

I love the University of Alberta Botanic Garden  and the new Aga Khan garden. We already went two time this season to visit - on the opening day and last night for the date night (for us that means bring the whole family!) . I got to take a workshop with Taiko drummers and it was so much fun! It is a good workout too to play those drums! I love how they open the garden for special events in the evening - the light was perfect and there were hardly any people there.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Love for love, emancipation day

I do not love you... (Neruda)
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

It is important to keep toxic people out of our lives.

As years go by, I am grateful for wonderful friends I met, who became family to me, who love me and whom I love.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rare moments

I live in an urban part of Edmonton, and yet right now, there is no sign of human habitation in my neighborhood. All I can hear while sitting on my balcony is tree branches hitting each other, Canadian flag on top of the school vigorously making noise in a gusty wind, and a few geese flying over. It is peaceful.
It used to be a rare occasion when I was able to just sit and observe. I spent decades working crazy hours, in a survival mode. It is only in the last year or so that I have stopped in my tracks. I have managed to slow down and take it easy. It took a long time to let go of fear. 

Hear,See, Speak no Evil...
And of course Do no Evil. I still have to paint that one.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Today is the day

This is the motivational statement that always stuck in my mind. No time is better to do things you want to do than now. Whatever it is you want to accomplish, today is the best day to start doing it.
I try and work every single day, even though a lot of days are spent doing research in the nature or traveling or just thinking. There is a lot going on behind the scenes - finished product - a painting or a sculpture is a small part of artist's efforts.

I have been busy writing new proposals. I took a whole year off from doing this because it was emotionally draining to get so many rejections in 2016. I wrote about 40 proposals and every single one was rejected, and I was not able to secure a space to show my newest body of work in 2018. I have been very productive last year and this year, and feel it is time to try again.
Writing is not my strong quality, but I do what I can. I cannot provide verbal diarrhea required of artists today, and I keep things simple and to the point. No, I am not going to change the whole world with my art, or describe "human condition", or provide "narrative" to boggle deep thinking minds. What I hope to achieve is to give a sliver of beauty to the observer, create some emotional response in a world of a few people who find meaning in my work. I am sticking to my theme "Ancestors" this year - it has been quite a journey so far and I cannot wait to share more.

Roots, 11x23"

Thursday, May 31, 2018


I grew up in a home where our door was always open to friends and family. A warm home where a guest was treated well and also fed well. It is a part of our culture to be welcoming. We did so many fun things with other people - sports, dining, vacationing, talking, enjoying coffee and food. I have found this welcoming attitude with a lot of friends in the USA, but Canada is definitely different in this respect.

Welcome, 11x23" acrylic media

I welcome the solitude. It has provided a heaven for my creative endeavours, and I have never been so productive. I have also learned to cook real well, and I exercise and take good care of myself consistently for the first time in my life.  Learning to love being alone and to love myself has been a long journey and solitude was needed to achieve this.

Belief 11x23", acrylic media

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


I work more the more I work - this is my life's mantra. The key is that I enjoy what I do. When I was working as an engineer for decades, I loved solving problems and working independently to build new things. Even though I spent many years putting in crazy hours into work, it rarely felt too overwhelming because it was exciting and fulfilling to me. The same goes for art creation. I am so fortunate that I can be a full time artist now. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Burden of Beauty

I have been working on this for a while. Went wild on texture - stems and thorns are sticking out everywhere. The sculpture is made of air dry clay, and this is the first time I am using it (Polyform from Michaels). I forgot to take a few pictures of the process, but I am sure I will soon be making more sculptures and I will document it a bit better. This lady is about 16 inches tall and base is 8" wide. I made the roses from Liquitex pouring media, and the whole sculpture is painted with acrylic paint. Black drawings are made with Molotow markers - my favorite!

This has been a challenging project on many levels - one is new materials, second is 3D, third is keeping the color palette minimalistic (just black and white allowed). It's been a struggle! So many times I wanted to splash some bright red on those roses lol. But I did not. I am on a quest to say as much as possible in my work without going overboard with color. Let's see how long that lasts.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sculpture making for fun

I have been working on a small sculpture off and on. It is a medium that is new for me, but I am having such great time with it that I am thinking that it may be my true calling in art. Someone a long time ago did tell me that 3D work may be something I would like the best, but then life got in a way and I did not pick it up until 25 years later. Let's see what happens with it, but for now I am really having a blast.

Since the weather got really nice, I have been outside a lot. It is amazing how much the energy levels pick up with a few rays of sunshine. Everyone in our family is participating in outdoor pursuits.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Varnishing time

This is another job that I do not particularly like to do, but it has to be done. I use different brand paints and mediums and they all have different sheen to them. Some are more matte and some are more glossy. Finishing the painting with multiple layers of varnish blends all these sheens together and the color just pops! It is quite satisfactory to finish the painting and especially the large ones - like I am varnishing today! My horses are almost done (waiting in between the varnish layers)

Thursday, May 10, 2018


Here is a little blast from the past! I always liked to put texture in my paintings, and I go through phases with the technique. Sometimes I like to look back and see what I was doing a few years ago, but even though the technique may be different today, there are things that are staying the same in my paintings, for example my favorite color(s).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


6x8" rooster painting

4 years ago I did my first 30 in 30 days project with roosters. This painting is a part of that project. I learned so much about chickens in that month. I love chickens - when I was a kid I spent a lot of time at my grandma's and she had an assortment of animals - including chickens. My job was to feed them and collect the eggs. Now I live an urban life, but deep down I know where I belong.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


6x8" rooster painting

They are so loud! I used to wake up with the rooster call early in the morning when I was in the countryside and enjoy watching the sunrises.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Precious time spent with children

My parents both worked full time, but they spent a lot of quality time at home. We used to go for walks along the river often, and spent our vacation time either at the seaside or the countryside surrounded by nature. My dad taught me much about astronomy, biology, natural phenomenons, cloud formation etc. on those walks and hikes. The conversations I had with mom and dad growing up are what I treasure the most in life. They are both long gone and I miss them both dearly. Even though I am going through my fifth decade on this earth - I still wish that I could talk with them about things going on in my life.

We learn from our parents, and I am finding out I am learning from my kids now too. They give me different perspective on things, and their enthusiasm for life is contagious. This last weekend we spent doing so many fun things - bike rides, hikes, birthday party for a friend's kid, cooking, even shopping and other stuff. The time spent with them is precious. Family is a gift.

The Gift, 11x23", acrylic media

Sunday, May 6, 2018


I paint a painting, and then I like to keep it close for a while. A dear friend said she felt the same about her photography work. And then, after a while I am ready to let the work go to another home. We have had these paintings hanging on our walls for a long time now, but I still enjoy looking at them - so much texture and reflections in them!

The weather is perfect and mosquitoes are barely awakening. No bites yet! Spent as much time outdoors this weekend as possible. Forest bathing is my favorite past time.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Iris, 11" round flower painting by Natasa Vretenar

I was a bit stuck so to get the muse going, I did several things all at once - painted a New Mexico challenge painting (have not done that in a long time!), started a small sculpture, and made a few new ornaments! Once I get started, ideas keep coming for new work! So excited about it.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


I have plenty of solitude - time to truly find my path, and artistic muse. It is a work in progress. I always like to shake things up a bit to get energized and I started working on several projects that are a bit different from my work in the past year or so.

I started working on a small sculpture - having so much fun with it, trying new materials and rendering in 3D. I love it. Here is a picture of my "ornament factory"

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cock fight

I am thinking about how to incorporate in my work human interactions by using animals as the main protagonists. Interesting things are starting to emerge. This is an older painting of a cock fight I did a few years back 11x14" on a panel.

Friday, April 27, 2018


This year I turned 44! I am right where I am supposed to be and where I want to be. Life is a gift and over the years I have learned to appreciate the present. Sometimes the past creeps up with happy and sad memories, and sometimes I get anxious about the future. Sometimes I am down like everyone else, and sometimes I am happy. Mostly I try to be content.

The weather is nice this week - I am grateful for the sunshine. I feel so much at home in a warm (or even hot) climate, probably this is written deep down in my genes. I have been thinking about my ancestors, our traditions (regarding birthdays and obsessing about the death). I am slowly back on track - this whole year I would like to devote my practice to the rituals of my ancestors and how these connections shape the next generations.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Spring is here!

I am grateful for the sunshine! Today is the second day we have above zero temperatures (the entire day) and sunshine. I spent majority of my day yesterday and today on the terrace working on some ideas, and I went for long walks with my SO. The wind is picking up today, so I am not sure if the evening walk will happen, but I must say it is beautiful out there when it is sunny and all the snow is disappearing. I used to take sunshine for granted when I lived in the American Southwest for decades. Nevermore, nevermore!

I feel motivated to work on multiple paintings. Sunshine truly puts life into my veins. All I want to do is be outdoors all the time.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Today I am grateful for not having much stress in my life now. I know how it feels to be extremely stressed out and I do not miss that at all. I had to run a few errands today and saw stressed out and angry people at every single place I had to stop by. I had to remind myself that when people treat you badly, it is not you, it is them...

This pieces is "No worries" 11" round substrate, acrylic. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Always work to do

Today I am grateful that I always enjoyed working. I worked in jobs and on projects that were challenging, most of the time hard work, but satisfying.

Artist always has work to do! I caught up a bit on my class assignments with Ardith Goodwin's Push Past Ordinary class, watched some art related videos, and picked up more art books from the library to read. Education is ongoing - one can always learn more about art history, techniques, materials, or personal lives of the artists. Another thing that I have been pushing off is varnishing. I am not particularly fond of this task, and since I have not been able (in spite of my huge efforts) to find a place to show my art this year, I have not been proactive on the matter. Now I have a gazillion paintings to varnish, and I will try and tackle that task soon.

Yesterday I went to YEG gallery walk. I think going to galleries during a major event like this is educational too - there were so many people out there on a sunny day. It was nice to see that locals are into visiting galleries and checking out art.

In the mean time, I am even more interested in digging deeper into my art creation. Traveling throws me off course, and I am happy to get into my routine and finish some paintings that have been marinating in my head for a long time! I feel like I have to finish all these projects before I start yet another one. It is hard for me to stay focused on one project if I don't actually have a show and a deadline to finish up. That is when I am the most productive - the more I work the more my productivity goes up!

I am posting another older painting today - still trying to visualize Spring (we are getting two more days of snow apparently!). 12x24", acrylic

Monday, April 9, 2018

Above zero!

Finally we are above zero degrees Celsius! It is a reason to celebrate. I love seeing the snow melt on walkways and I am happy we can again walk on the sidewalks without slipping all the time. Hopefully it lasts! It has been a long winter and I am grateful today that we were able to escape a few weeks of it and travel in warmer places. Let's hope some flowers start blooming here soon!

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Living in Canada has made me appreciate winter a bit more - the long shadows, the delicate pinks and purples in the snow reflections and pastel oranges, mauves and turquoise tones in the sky at sunset. Some days the sunrises are incredibly bright and colorful. I am grateful for these beautiful views.

I painted this a few years back - this is a view from our balcony in the morning. I love to sit by the window and a fireplace and look at the everchanging colors and shapes in the sky in peace before everyone wakes up. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Working from home

Today I am grateful for being able to work at home. Earlier today we got a bit of fresh snow, and now sun is peaking though. Hopefully, sun will win and we can enjoy some warmer temperatures. Even for Canada, we are having an unusually cold April this year.

I took the day off from making art to do some spring cleaning and rearranging furniture. I keep finding storage spaces for my paintings that I did not know existed :). Living in Japan for 3 weeks reminded me that humans do not really need big homes to live comfortably and that space can be utilized to be more functional in a smaller area. Every once in a while I think about why we live in a condo and here are the main reasons:

1) It is so easy! No snow shovelling for us!
2) We spend way less on unnecessary purchases because we just cannot bring more stuff in our limited space.
3) The car is always warm and ready to start, even when it is -40 degrees outside.
4) We spend more quality time with kids, talking, cooking, etc.
5) We have more time for creative endeavours.
6) Commute to husband's work is short (within walking distance)
7) Our place is always warm, welcoming, and cozy.
8) Maintaining the place is a breeze
9) We are within 20 minutes (or less) drive from any place we want to be at
10) A few good neighbors.

Living in our space makes it easy to enjoy life. I find that living in a cold climate is more demanding on living and non living things - homes endure more damage, as well as a human body. Living simply is a key to being content in this climate. The most important for me is that simple living allows me to spend time with family. We welcome friends in our warm home often, as socializing and laughter is crucial in being able to thrive in long winters.

Here is another oldie. Yes, I am trying to visualize spring :). It is still going on and we are in for a longer stretch. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Mama bear, 24x24"

Today I am grateful for many artists who support me in real life and online in my quirky art endeavours and join me on my imaginative and creative journey. I appreciate every comment and like and criticism I receive, as they help me dig deeper and also help me see things from another perspective outside my own little bubble.

As an artist one has to develop thick skin. There are many ways that an artist can get discouraged - by rude customers, gallery representatives who are not respectful, to art critics, and in my humble opinion - the worst kind - by other artists. Once upon a time, I was watching a video of an artist I admire, who is world renowned and a famous artist in Canada. At some point during the show he proclaimed that the only way to paint nature is his way. I was surprised by his arrogance and dismissal of any other painting styles. I realize art is subjective, and I don't like a lot of art that is out there, but I always try and educate myself about where the artist is coming from.

The other day - another artist whose work I like, inquired in a sort of snobby way on FB why there are so many colourful, square bear paintings out there. I immediately thought of this painting I did about 5 years ago

Yep, it's colourful, square and with bears lol. I paint bears because bear represents strong medicine including the powers in the areas of wisdom, strength and healing. Bears have been in my life since I was a kid - images of Gypsies parading bears through our neighbourhood, or bears roaming freely in the countryside were not uncommon in Bosnia. It is important to find where artist's motivation is coming from. Even if they are painting in a certain style because right now it sells - does that give another artist a right to diminish their artistic efforts? What's it to them and why disparage other creatives efforts just because they do something the other does not want to or likes to do?

In any case, I am glad I pulled this painting out of the artistic memory files.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dreaming of Spring, 16x20" painting by Natasa Vretenar

Today I am grateful for living in a peaceful country, with no war on its soil. We can go about our daily lives with roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and pretty much having anything we ever need or want available to purchase.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Purple Poppies, 24x12" acrylic painting by Natasa Vretenar

Today I am grateful for all the art supplies I have available to do my work. On my (almost a decade long) quest to simplify every aspect of my life, I admit that I usually do not adhere to minimalistic approach when it comes to buying art supplies. That is why I decided to use what I have at home (substrates, paint, mediums, or found objects etc) and not go to the art store until I really need something else. I also organized my supplies and was surprised by just how much I have on hand to work with!

I am catching up on Ardith Goodwin's class. It has been such a wonderful class so far and it is helping me in so many ways. I also signed up for another one of her classes on distortion!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Getting back to my routine, Irises painting by Natasa Vretenar

Today I am grateful for another neighbour who sent me some information regarding venues where to sell art locally. I received another rejection today for a show I was hoping to get into. I wish I could just shrug it off, but when there is nothing positive happening regarding my art show applications, I feel a bit discouraged.

It takes a while to get over a jet lag so I try to stick to a work routine right away. I am hoping to get some new custom substrates soon from a local shop to start a new project. In the mean time, I still have a dozen or so more substrates waiting for me to get to them and work on some ideas that have been on a back burner while traveling.

I am also thinking about making a series of flower paintings - I have not painted any flowers in a long time!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Gratitude, Sunflower painting by Natasa Vretenar 12x12"

There are many things to be grateful for. It is so easy to focus on the negatives, so this month I will mention one thing I am grateful for every day. Yesterday, I was grateful for having neighbours who got us some tasty chickens for a fundraiser their kids do while we were traveling. Today, I am grateful for being able to go to the grocery store and fill up our fridge with food.

We came back to Edmonton and to a lot of snow on the ground and temperatures below freezing. I liked watching the frosty branches of trees on the way from Calgary to Edmonton while driving.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter

I am jet lagged today so not much is happening here except trying to get back into normalcy. 

Friday, March 30, 2018


I have been traveling in Japan for three weeks and it has been an amazing experience. Japan is a beautiful country, and Japanese are welcoming, friendly people. It is a great country to visit with kids as well.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Poppycock, rooster painting by Natasa Vretenar

Organizing photos on my comp and came across this oldie. As a non native speaker of English, I am always delighted to learn a new word. What do I do then - paint a painting of course!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Legend, white raven painting by Natasa Vretenar


From the Spirit Animals series.

Being in nature, outdoors, is my favorite thing to do. I was fortunate to live in a few beautiful places - AZ, NM and CO where the climate is mild and you can spend a lot of time outdoors throughout the year. Since we moved to Alberta (another beautiful but cold place!) we are not able to spend as much time in nature, although we try to get out at least for an hour or so if the temperature is not below -20 Celsius. Colder than that it is difficult.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bubu Lulu (Don't be just a chess piece), 60x36" horse painting by Natasa Vretenar

It is very hard to take a good photo of this painting right now because it is cold outside and I have to take the pictures indoors. This painting is too big to take a picture of it in my usual spot where the light is good coming from the balcony doors.  This is the best for now until the snow melts and I can take the painting outside on an overcast day to take a nice picture of it.

Another issue with photographing this painting is that I use several different brands of acrylic paint and they all have different reflection properties - some are more matte and some are more glossy, so the pictures really do not give an accurate representation of what the painting really looks like in real life. I will keep trying until I get a better photo.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Gypsy, horse painting by Natasa Vretenar

I am calling it done (for now!). Of course nothing is safe in my studio from further changes. "Gypsy" is 3x5 feet large and is really hard to photograph with bad light conditions we have today. Also, I used some copper paint - metallics are notoriously hard to photograph too, but they look amazing in real life - the painting changes as light changes throughout the day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Work in progress

The struggle is real. After painting a lot of small paintings, I really missed large format painting and my palette knives. I am back to work on a few large paintings and it is a real challenge. I am also going through my paint like there is no tomorrow. I paint totally different in small and in large format - each size awakens different parts of my creative process.

The light today is low and it is raining outside - one day above the zero and we get freezing rain! We will not have any snow any time soon, so it's skating rink out there for a while!

Here is a bad picture of my work so far. I tend to make the painting too busy. Gypsy was getting too fabulous (had too much hair everywhere!). So, I trim a lot of things down. I am sure the colors will change a few more times until I am satisfied.

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"