Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Digging deep

I have been working on my art almost every day this year. I think this has been the most productive year for me so far. We reduced our family's scheduled activities to zero, and apart from school and work, we freed up our schedules to do whatever and whenever. This has reduced the stress levels in our family to a minimum, as well as given us ample time to cook, talk, dine, walk, exercise, and travel together. It has been an amazing year for creativity.

Slowing down has actually unleashed this avalanche of ideas for my art projects. I have blogged about all the paintings I completed for 150 in 150 days project, as well as other mini projects I did this year. Furthermore, while experimenting with different techniques, going all out with color or texture, or minimizing color and working on compositions, I dared to dig deeper and conceptualize more meaningful paintings in my mind. A lot of these ideas are in my sketchbook as seeds for something bigger, and I am starting to finally grow these seeds. The preparations for my January project are already on the way, since December is going to be a bit busier with concerts and other activities we have planned for the holidays.

 I am starting an online class on the 19th with Ardith Goodwin - it will be fun (judging by all the activity on a secret FB page happening pre-class - excited to be part of this dynamic group of artists!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Greeting Cards, by Natasa Vretenar

This morning was very peaceful with a layer of fresh snow. I realized I have not been painting any snow scenes. As a matter of fact, I tend to paint bright, sunny scenes when winter comes to town. Maybe this season that changes.

I am doing a lot of behind the scenes work - preparing substrates and layering, painting borders etc. I also varnished a few paintings and finished all the ornaments I had to do! I purchased the hanging string for the ornaments as well - so now they will be ready to hang on the tree.

I am pleased to now offer greeting cards as well - they are with images from my 150 in 150 days project this year and are blank inside (14x14 cm square).

let me know if you are interested in getting them at $5 each.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Remembering my first show

My first art show was at the Cherry Blossom gallery in Loveland, CO in 2010. It took me about 4-5 years to show my work from the time I started painting in between work and taking care of toddlers. It was a group show with about 10 or 15 local artists, and I had no idea what to expect. looking back, I don't think I expected much, but I was a bit nervous about putting my work out there for the world to see. A few roosters, lots of trees and sunflowers, some zebras and fish.

A lot has happened since then, and I am painting more than ever before. I am glad I put my work together and showed that night - I sold two paintings and gained some confidence to continue my life as an artist. It was not an easy decision, and it took at least a few more years for me to focus on creating art full time.  It has been an exciting journey and I cannot wait to put down on canvas the next idea floating around in my head!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Snow and cold front

We got winter again on Halloween! It seems like every year it happens regularly. We are getting a hang of this climate after 5 years living in Canada. The temperature dropped overnight and we are around -10 deg C today. I respond with a nice warm chicken soup and a shopping trip to an art store for a few art supplies. Our winter tires are on and seem to be doing a good job on the snowy road.
I even took a short walk today - my toe is getting better and I can walk more normally.

I am continuing my work on different large paintings and smaller substrates for my next big project coming up in January. It is not too early to start thinking about it! I am also wrapping up the last of the ornaments - quite pleased how they turned out!


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Finished ornaments

I finished a whole lot of ornaments this week and am storing them away in boxes until they are ready to be shipped! These are just a few smaller ones, 3" in diameter.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Focus on the positive

I finished another batch of ornaments today and have only another small batch to do. I am taking a break from making them because I want to actually paint something for a change! I think ornaments turned out quite nice, there are several different designs available and I will probably post them online soon.

My toe is getting better slowly every day. I can walk more now.

Life is busy and it is important to stay focused and think positively. Every day is a gift.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Elk Island National Park is only a short drive away from Edmonton and is a beautiful place to visit. We are outside whenever we can be, especially when the weather is good. I feel grateful for the natural beauty we are surrounded by.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Thoughts on being a self taught artist III

Since I love to paint animals, I spend a lot of time in nature and at the zoos. I probably have taken a gazillion pictures of various wildlife. I also watch the birds and bunnies straight from my balcony - there is a lot of action in the field outside my windows. I observe their motion, flight path, feather arrangements, muscles, proportions and color. Because I am quite busy with motherly work, a camera comes in handy (does not have to be a fancy one). For better reference photos it is nice to have a mid range SLR camera like Cannon Rebel with a telephoto lens and a good wide angle lens. Initial investment is maybe pricey but totally worth it in the long run. I have owned my Rebel for 6 years now and it works just as well today as when brand new. I only use my own reference photos for my work. It is good to have a bunch of reference photos to look at any time when I have time to paint. I am also grateful for zoos. At this time in my life I cannot afford (time and money wise) to travel to remote locations and observe animals I like to paint in nature, so zoos are in my humble opinion amazing places to hone my artistic skills.

Online classes with artists whose work I like are another way to develop my own skills as an artist. I just signed up for a year long course starting in November to boost the creative process. Looking forward to it.

In the future, I would love to take workshops with artists I admire. There are many week long workshops and conferences I have put on my to do list, but it will all have to wait until my kids are a bit older. This is definitely the most costly part of one's development as an artist, as these workshops are not available locally. However, comparing it to tuition costs, even workshop costs do not seem so high.

Being self-taught is always a work in progress.
This guy was making really weird motorcycle noises at the zoo in Edmonton! He was agitated and looked quite menacing. He did not appreciate all the visitors to the zoo that day. 

Thoughts on being self taught II

So what is a self-taught artist like me to do, in a city where they do not fit into an art education mold? There are many ways to grow as an artist, and resources are quite readily available.

I am regular visitor to our local library and I study art history constantly - probably not a day goes by that I do not read something related to art, artists from the past and present. I also spend time on social media browsing through new works of my art "friends". I try not to spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram these days, but I enjoy doing it and I have "met" so many wonderful, productive and innovative artists through social media. It can be very inspiring if you don't get too involved and spend too many hours browsing through other people's posts. This part (particularly using the library resources) are free. Furthermore, one can exchange books with friends.

Working daily is the most important thing for me - whether it is just a sketch, or a complete painting, it does not matter. What matters is that I work every day. Sometimes I just manage to write down the idea in my sketchbook, and that is it! For me it is important that I put these ideas down in writing, and sometime later when I do have time to work on a painting, I develop these ideas into a work of art, or even a series of paintings. This also does not require much monetary commitment. Supplies may be expensive for artists, but sketchbooks and pencils (or pens) are not much. Besides, one can buy a lot of paint and substrates for one semester worth of tuition money.
This picture was taken at the overlook above the Bow river and close to Bow river falls. What a magnificent place! Look at all those tough, resilient trees growing from the cliff, the water rumbling, and beautiful mountains in the background!


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