Friday, 27 June 2014

Art Newbies

Long Beach, oil, 9x12

Taking first steps in the art world is the most amazing and wonderful time for a newbie artist, especially when doing this later in life, after we have spent many years eagerly waiting for it. With fresh eyes, we see all the wonders that art life has to offer. But, after every honeymoon hard work begins, with all its doubts, questions and fears. Both working alone or in a class can be intimidating, ranging from light discomfort to soul crushing. I know, I’ve been there. Here are a few suggestions that may be helpful when self doubts threaten to overtake the joyful creative process.

  • Find a way to get consumed in your work with no talking or asking questions. If any questions still linger by the end of the day, write them down and save them for a “questions day”. If you are patient, you will answer your questions yourself.

  • Your work is beautiful as long as you are keeping yourself open to learning, fearlessly experimenting and practicing. The real meaning of this beauty is only known to you. Any comment from another person will fall short of what you feel, so it’s better not to ask.

  •  Be creative in everything that you do, and find a new way to look at the world. Force yourself to do things differently, just to find out how that feels. Experience enriches our art.

  •  Use many different materials and tools, especially those that are not obvious. Handle them, make marks, and modify them in many ways. Become a master of your own tools.

  •  Make art in various moods and observe how happiness, sadness, anger…influence making of art. Observation triggers ideas.

  •  Take ownership of your new art life and reserve a special place, time, money and energy for it. Even in art, something can't be created out of nothing.

  •  Let your ego do its thing thinking about the future and comparing yourself with other artists. Do this for 15 minutes, then pack it up in a mental drawer and start drawing your foot (yet again). Ego is awesome...keep telling him/her that while you do your own thing.

Happy painting!


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Joy Art

So…what is the purpose of art making?
Should each piece aim for the Guggenheim?

Our dear friend and mentor Bob Genn taught us that when we start taking ourselves too seriously, it's time to remember that "joy is also good"! 

There are serious paintings, experimental paintings, masterpieces, products of out sweat and blood…but there also those lighthearted paintings of pure joy. You all know that joy contributes to good health, so how about taking that to heart for some summer inspiration?

And there is another angle to this, which has to do with Vincent Van Gogh. I recently visited a great exhibition in the Museum de Orsay dedicated to his work. I have carefully read all Vincent's letters to his brother, family and friends, I visited the hospital in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, and by now I feel like I know him quite well.

Vincent at Saint Remy

Aside from his great art, one thing that won me over was Vincent’s love of what he called “the real thing”. He keeps mentioning it in many of his letters in reference to his paintings of real scenes and people that he experienced. The closer to the community, the better according to Vincent. What a noble idea to embrace.

When I am not on a quest to reach and paint those amazing wild natural wonders of Canada, the subject matter of everyday life is all around, begging attention. And from some reason, the community loves to see artists at work. Why, not? I am all for it! 

The White Dog gallery in Whistler is organizing a great Painting the Peaks event this summer, and Port Moody Art Center is organizing an Art in the Garden event.

Me and my portable easel are ready to roll!

Bird Feeder, plein air sketch, acrylic, 11x14

if you are up to it, come visit and cheer us on! Plein air paintings are known to fly of the easels to some great loving homes, what's not to love about that?

On the weekend of July 11/13 you can find me in the vicinity of  the Scandinave Spa in Whistler.

On Saturday, July 19, I will be sketching beautiful garden things on this gorgeous Belcarra property  with a friend artist Adrienne Peacock, thanks to the generous owners Cheryl and Bill Papove. Proceeds from tickets go towards the much needed upgrade of the Port Moody Art Center.

Cheryl's amazing garden with hundreds of gorgeous plants

And what’s happening in your neighborhood? Any opportunities for joy painting? If nothing seems to be going on, perhaps you can gang up with neighbors or fellow artists and organize a community art day. It's bound to be a success, especially if the weather cooperates.

As for me, if you come to call this summer, it's likely that I will be outside, painting the “real thing”! 

Planning of my very exciting fall solo show in the Buckland Southerst gallery is on the back burner for the moment, but some irresistible ideas are already gushing out. The stunning scenery of the Lake O’Hara Park is painting itself in my mind…stay tuned!.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Another Plein Air Painting Season is Here!

Are you searching for the meaning of life?
Look no further than your (or someone else’s) back yard!

There are few things more joyful than a relaxed day of backyard plein air painting. Add to that a stash of fresh new painting boards and I am in heaven. Here are a few of my sketches with photos that inspired them.

This is my famous backyard setup, all with the giant Utrecht umbrella which was a gift from my hubby from his trip to San Francisco, a few years ago. He somehow managed to board the plane with it in the carry-on luggage. When the pilot spotted it during disembarking, his shock at the sight of a huge spear-looking object on his plane left him speechless. So instead of the customary “thanks for flying with us”, he only managed a dirty look. The umbrella is way too big to carry on a hiking plain air trip, but it works great in the back yard, as witnessed here!

I titled this sketch “A Chair for You My Dear”. Painting dappled sunlight should be prescribed as a treatment against any sort of sadness. I had to finish it in haste due to an overly critical wasp.

You wouldn't believe how mesmerizing a humble garden hose can be.

And finally, the challenge of a circular pavement pattern. I could fiddle with it all day.

Now how much fun was that!

Think you can do this? I bet you will, so grab your paint box and your bug spray and get on with it; there is no better time to start than today (alright, tomorrow morning will do).

Happy painting!


Thursday, 5 June 2014


These days I have been thinking a lot about the role of mentors. Are mentors important, how do we find them, recognize them, chose the right ones, connect with them and trust them? How do they affect our art and our life in general? With the passing of our dear friend and mentor Bob Genn, all these questions hit a very tender spot. 

There are many dear friends with whom we exchange love and support on daily bases, but there are those very few wizards that make effort to help us reach a major eureka moment. Here are a few of my wonderful mentors (in order of appearance) to whom I will forever be thankful:

  • My dear grandfather fed me stories about history, mythology and real life adventures from his childhood and developed in me passion for reading and learning. As a token of gratitude, I kept his surname (Popovicki) which I appended to my husband's (Mirkov).

circa 1970, my grandfather Peter and I on a meadow behind his house

  • From the first day we met, my awesome husband believed in my artistic vision. He pushed me to join my first art classes in Canada and taught me that we can achieve things we only dream possible.

Tea pot, painted in the Vancouver Art Academy, probably in 1999

  • This may sound silly, but Dale Carnegie's books on leadership were an eye opener for me. The idea that we can manage our own life with some very practical techniques positively changed my life. If anyone hasn't read those books yet, I would recommend them sincerely. 

  • Through my engineering career I met a few amazing mentors who taught me the importance of taking risks and making my own decisions, of nurturing respect for colleagues and of true leadership and mentoring of junior colleagues. All of this was applicable in any endeavor including my art career.

  • And then I met Bob Genn. From our first conversation it became clear to me that I stroke pure gold. Bob wrote a lot, but he was a mentor of few very well chosen words. He taught me about commitment and joy and the value of networking. The last thing he said to me, jut a few weeks ago, was to make sure I don't neglect my painting by getting distracted by other less important projects. I will forever treasure those precious nuggets of wisdom. 

"Speed is important, but joy is also important" said Bob

Experiencing mountain-high in the Bugaboos in 2010

True mentors speak from a position of genuine altruism and concern. This is a rare and precious treat and very few people ever step up to the plate, which makes it even more important to give recognition and thanks to them. 

I am sending a huge hug of appreciation to all the wonderful mentors out there!

Tatjana (posted in June 2014)

- You have to find the student within yourself, and that student will find the teacher within everyone else. -