Minnestima Lakes, Larch Valley, acrylic, 30x40, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki.

Although I prefer painting stylized landscapes, like my latest painting Minnestima Lakes - Larch Valley, that took me several weeks to finish (yikes!), every once in a while a few quick realist paintings emerge during my plein air painting adventures, especially in special places like the one I just visited last week, only an hour and a half drive from Vancouver.

I've been painting stylized landscapes since 2004. I distinctly remember transitioning from realism to expressive landscapes at the same time when I got hooked on hiking our Coastal Mountains - North Shore, Garibaldi Park, Whistler. Then The Cathedral Park in Okanagan, Mt Robson, Mt Baker across the border, and of course the Canadian Rockies - Yoho, Banff  and Jasper.

Hiking influenced my painting in a significant way. The scale of the subject mater expanded, and instead of seeing trees, rocks, clouds and other individual objects, I saw patterns and colors.  And that's what I wanted to paint. The result was a style - a visual language that combines those two elements in an infinite number of ways. This, for me, is a wonderful thing because it is at the same time a creative process and a game of sorts. You get to create your own puzzle and solve it, again and again. The possibilities are endless.

The problem with this is that you get used  (addicted?) to the game to the extent that you start visually "translating" everything you see. Everything around you becomes a play of patterns and colors. It can become tiring if not disturbing. That's why it's good to break the mold every once in a while and do something completely different. Why not realism? There is a real world full of real things all around us, after all!

I love to go outside and paint something that isn't a giant mountain of a huge lake. Something that I can try to paint just the way I see it, in less than a week. Hopefully in less than a day. A little bit of realism, just for the fun of it.

Days Gone By, oil, 9x12, plein air sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Kilby Summer, oil, 12x9, plein air sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

These are a couple of examples that I painted during a lovely weekend I spent in Kilby - an amazing heritage site in Harrison Mills in the Fraser Valley.

I included a few photos from this wonderful place too. Make sure you check out their calendar of events, If you enjoy historical places and farm environment, you won't be disappointed. There is also a cafe that serves a vegetable quiche and a strawberry rhubarb pie to die for!

Volunteers and organizers of the event are a wonderful cast of characters, how can you resist these smiles? You can't. Notice the award packages on the table in the background - they are quite wonderful too :-)

The plein air painting event is held on the last weekend of August every year, so if you are a painter or an art lover, add it to your calendar and make sure you sign up in advance. I hope to see you there next year!