Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Collage of 30 in 30 paintings January 2018

I did it again - finished 30 paintings in 30 days project in January! This year I did some of the work in December because of the travel plans in January though. Many thanks to Leslie Saeta for organizing the challenge - I am grateful for this experience (this is my 5th year doing the challenge at the beginning of the year!)

This project actually takes a lot more than 30 days in reality. I started planning it in November when I ordered and received my custom substrates from Captive Cutting. Mark does a wonderful job and makes them fast. When the substrates were delivered, I prepped them with a couple of layers of gesso and then painted the background with a few layers. All the prep work takes quite a bit of time. Thinking about composition, details of each painting, symbolism, theme within the theme, how it all ties together - this is the major undertaking and a ton of work as well. I have been thinking about this theme and project pretty much constantly for 3 months (well intensely and focused on my art, because I have been living as a mother for 15 years now!).

One of the challenges with making series like this is to keep yourself motivated. To stay on track I subdivided the project into smaller parts. I created five groups of paintings. Each group started with a smaller 3x18" painting symbolizing a sub theme: Love, Health,  Wisdom, Nurture, Community.

This series of paintings is in a sense an experimental series - I tried different mediums and techniques. The paintings reflect crafts that were done in my family: embroidery, weaving, needlepoint, knitting, beading, and crocheting. The small and big dots, thick and thin lines, repetition of patterns was used to emulate these crafts. I grew up watching the women in my family making beautiful things.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The funeral, Mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

Last Rites, concludes the Community segment of the Mother series and #30paintingsin30days for January 2018.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

It takes a village, Mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends - connections, networking, emotional support... Time is ticking, but some things always remain the same. The effect our actions have on others, how we leave our marks on others.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Welcome, mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

Socializing, decision making, family bonding takes place at the dining room table. Growing up, offering and sharing food was a gesture of welcoming those who came over to visit us in our home.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Balancing Act, Mother series painting by Natasa Vretenar

Sometimes, being a mother feels like your whole life is turned upside down. Even then, keeping the balance is possible.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Raining Lemons, Mother series painting by Natasa Vretenar

"When it rains it pours"

As several unexpected challenges presented themselves, I think this painting is more than relevant today. Making a lemonade out of lemons that life gives is a skill that I have become quite proficient at over the years.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Belief, a mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

I am grouping this painting with fertility and abundance sub theme.

Many of my girlfriends have been able to get pregnant quite easily, some had to work hard on that, and some were not able to get pregnant. Some did not want kids. In times of struggle, one may find strength in spiritual matters.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Lada, Mother series painting by Natasa Vretenar

11x23" on 3/4" thick MDF custom cut panel. Lada is a fertility goddess in Slavic mythology, and a popular name in the former Yugoslavia where I was born and raised.

Back in the saddle

We came back to Edmonton last night and are happy we missed another cold snap - the temperature today is cold, but "only" -10C. I am sorting through some household work (baking bread, doing laundry and putting away the Christmas decorations!), but after I am done with that I am so ready to sit down and paint more paintings for the 30 in 30 days project! It is quite difficult for me to paint while on the road, but I always bring my sketchbook with me and try and jot some ideas down and quick sketches.

Here is a collage of paintings I have painted so far for the January project - so much color and fun!

I am looking forward to dig deeper in Ardith Goodwin's class as well. This class has been amazing and it pushes me to examine my process.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Juggler, Mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

This painting is a mix of things - hinting at the abundance of things available to make mother's life easier, and how that same abundance can create chaos and overwhelm a person trying to juggle all the responsibilities and things she is surrounded by.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Feeding time, mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed?


When I became a mother, I heard somewhere that it is so much better and more important to breastfeed my baby. So I did, even though it was not "natural" to me and it took a lot of work and effort for things to work out. My babies were fast growers and hungrier than other kids (even today they are) so solids were introduced quite early. My third child was not breastfed and he turned out to be the healthiest of them all. Go figure...

I have heard gazillion arguments pro and con breastfeeding or bottle feeding. I just say - do what is the best for you and your kid. Either way the babies will be fine, as long as they get loving and care. And food of course!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The ideal of beauty, a mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

 "Smile! It makes you look prettier."
"You are too fat". "You are too skinny". "Your hair is too short". "You should get a facial to fix those pimples". "Shave your legs". "Your hair is too long". "Your feet are too big". "Your ankles are too thin". "Your breasts are too small". "Your breasts are too big". "You should...".

The fertility goddesses of the past are all big women, with huge hips and breasts. The ideal of beauty varies throughout the cultures. In the West, we are too preoccupied with our looks and there are entire industries dedicated to "correcting" female imperfections, dieting, beauty products etc. Girls are taught from a very young age what an "ideal" beauty is. So much emphasis is put on the outside looks, and outward appearances.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Self care - Growing Wings, Mother painting by Natasa Vretenar

I always found peace by visiting zoos and observing animals. Throughout the years, I  spent many hours just watching flamingos. I find them fascinating and the words that come to mind to describe this fascination are: balance, teamwork, sociability, being faithful to their partners, and self care.
They can stand on one leg and maintain balance of their entire body for a long time. This balance is perhaps what every human being is looking for - both physically and metaphorically. It is certainly what I am striving for. Flamingos are always in large groups, and they mate for life. They are also beautiful with their pink feathers which they groom all the time.

In old mythologies, flamingos have been regarded as strong spirit animal with healing powers (Egypt and Rome).

Motherhood can morph into many different shapes as kids grow and life arrangements change.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Health, nurture, beauty, fitness, a mother themed painting by Natasa Vretenar

The following 5 paintings will be about nurturing, health, beauty and fitness. Modern mother wears so many hats. There is a lot of pressure coming from all directions. At the same time, she is in charge of the health of the whole family, and more often than not, she forgets to take care of herself. It is so important to take care of one's self, especially if you are a caregiver.

3x18" on a cradled birch panel.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Partners, a painting by Natasa Vretenar

This painting concludes the first leg of the journey - Love.

"There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word" W.W.

11x23" acrylic media
I love color. I limited my color palette to 5 colors for this project (OK, I am not counting gold and silver as colors here). A group of five paintings has the same background color. The same group of colors will be represented in the entire series.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The gift, Mother series painting by Natasa Vretenar

The class I am taking from Ardith Goodwin online is guiding me on a quest to be authentic and create from deep within my soul. It is a work in progress and every day I am more and more honest with myself about my loves, likes and who I am. This class is a year long journey and has already had a tremendous impact on my creative process.

The "Mother" series is a personal and an emotional series to paint.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

She wore her heart on her sleeve, and little kids and dogs loved her, Mother series painting by Natasa Vretenar

Going out among the people wearing your heart on your sleeve is not easy, and probably not the smartest thing to do. Nobody likes that kind of honesty. Except perhaps, dogs and little kids.

11x23" substrate

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

24/7, Mother painting by Natasa Vretenar

She is on call 24/7, night and day.

This series' theme is "Mother". The first thing I think of when I think of motherhood is love. My mom passed away 18 years ago and I miss her every day. She was an amazing and loving mother who was always there for me. A kind, compassionate woman who was there for her children 24/7. I know that her spirit lives on, and I strive to be as wonderful as she was.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The scarf, the braids, and a ponytail, a painting by Natasa Vretenar

Three generations of women.

Marama, pletenice, kikice, 11x23"
How fortunate are those who are loved by their moms and grandmas? 
Women in my family have been skilled craftswomen throughout time. My maternal grandmother and great grandmother were both weavers who made purses, clothing and rugs out of the wool from their own sheep. The colors used were many, but the dominant ones are red, black and green from the region in Bosnia my mom's family is from. One of my grandma's rugs was done in herringbone pattern in these colors.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Love, painting by Natasa Vretenar

The mother is everything - she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness. He who loses his mother loses a pure soul who blesses and guards him constantly

Khalil Gibran

I am starting this year with another 30 in 30 days project. This time I upped the challenge and decided to go with larger substrates (not too large as they are about 1x2 ft in size). I had the substrates custom cut and prepared with a few base layer of acrylic paint well in advance so I am able to paint the details as the month goes by. I painted some of these paintings in December because I knew we will be traveling in January, and it would not be possible to keep up with all the paintings (especially the larger format). 

This is the first time ever that I am including words (other than my name as a signature) on my painting! This was a big change for me and a true push past the ordinary. This piece is also the first step toward focusing on my theme for the entire year - "Ancestors". I will start with a series of paintings about Mother, and different hats she wears and roles she has. Maybe it is because of the holiday season, but I put a lot of bling into it too (gold and silver). One of my goals for the upcoming year is to tone down my colors and bling, but for now, it is staying. This painting is 3x18" on a cradled birch panel and I sculpted the roses for the sides of it with gel medium.There are also other 3D elements in the painting which i glazed over with silver paint. It makes it look transparent, but incredibly difficult to photograph.

"Love" 3x18" on a cradled birch panel.

Each group of 5 larger paintings will be introduced by a smaller painting 3x18" that will represent with a word or two the next group of paintings of five. I am having a hard time photographing these as they have a lot of gold paint and texture, so the angle that the light illuminates the painting changes the entire look of the painting. A picture above shows the idea of the painting.

As you can tell, the theme this month is centered around a woman, a mother, a nurturer, a protector, and a community maker. I am painting these 25 paintings as a small tribute to all the women out there who selflessly give to others, whether it is to their children, or other family members, women who contribute to their communities, and carry on their shoulders many burdens of every day life.

The Messenger of Immortality 12x24"