Ego Trip

Garibaldi Patterns, 8x8, original acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


Yep, I am taking a major ego trip these days, one which I have been avoiding for years. I am talking about sifting through the records of one's art journey.

One way of looking at it is that it's "all about me". That's why I titled this post Ego Trip, and that also might be why I steered away from it for too long. Laziness and delusion are also considered.

There is one important and serious aspect to this, which is the artist's responsibility to keep sound records of our art, the very thing we love so much and want to send off into the world. Our darlings deserve to be adequately accompanied by documentation and records of their journeys. 

I really thought I had it covered. I have a bunch of file folders for tax-related paperwork, two big cardboard boxes for catalogs, awards, magazines and what-not, a studio computer for art photos, cupboards and shelving units where I keep sketches and paintings. I even back up my computer data semi-regularly. That sounds quite orderly, right?

However. Papers and electronic files have multiplied, canvases and boards filled every nook and cranny in the studio. Every time I needed to find something, I had to go through a confusing mountain of stuff and wreck my brain to make sense of what I did and didn't find.

I had to face the truth. As my output increased, my loosely organized systems got broken. I found myself drowning in my creations.

So, I bit the bullet. I am going through everything and I won't stop until all my records and storage are clean of clutter and I have an easy way to find things.


studio re-org in progress



The joyful aspect of this project is revisiting almost forgotten work I've done over years and remembering the delights of the creative process. I found some old gems, chuckled over the heartaches some of them gave me and basked in the sheer expanse of love that my artful life gave me. Call it an ego trip, I don't mind. Every once in a while, it should be allowed.

I am posting here some finds which I was happy to dust off and hang in my studio. They talk to me about the early days of the journey. It's true that we need to live in the present moment and know where we want to go. But, there is also a great joy in looking back to see where we came from.





Cobalt Lake, acrylic sketch from a heli-painting trip to the Bugaboos in 2010






Long Beach Study from 2007 made after a trip to Tofino






Acrylic sketch for a portrait of a girl, done in 2003 or thereabouts



Here are a few major sins which I made (mis)organizing my art records. I hope you can learn from my mistakes:

- I renamed paintings when I couldn't remember the original name I gave them, so the same paintings appear in my records under various names. Some ended up having the same name as another painting altogether.

Solution: Write down the titles and dates of creation.

- I created many levels of electronic folders with numerous categories in my art files. Various versions of same photos appear in several places. I have to dive into deep structures of folders searching for photos of my paintings.

Solution: Flat files per year/month are easiest to search.

- I failed to discard the paperwork which doesn't serve as a meaningful record of my art journey.

Solution: Get rid of excess paper.

- I failed to discard the artwork which clearly wasn't meant to be kept.

Solution: Define criteria for keepers and stick with it.

- I failed to discard the art materials and tools which are clearly unusable, under an illusion that they could somehow be re-used (they can't).

Solution: Get rid of junk.


If you can add to this list, please do. I most certainly don't want to find myself in this kind of mess again, and I hope that you don't either.

Happy organizing!

Tatjana

(check out my website to see what else is going on)

an aftermath of quality control - old stretchers and frames waiting to be recycled

Remembering Bugaboos in 12 Steps



Remembering Bugaboos, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


This sketch took about one hour to paint. Here is what I used:

- 11x14 stretched gessoed canvas

- 3 flat acrylic brushes: 
  • large (#12)
  • medium (#10)
  • small (#8)


- 5 pigments in heavy body acrylic paint medium: 
  • titanium white
  • cadmium yellow light
  • transparent red oxide
  • diox purple
  • pthalo blue


The painting process broken down into 12 steps:




Transparent red oxide underpainting and gestural dark shapes in diox purple with the large brush.


Mix of white and pthalo blue brushed in to suggest a dynamic sky.


Darker mix of blue to suggest distant mountains.


Warm gray mix from all paints on the palette to suggest rocks in the foreground and cloudy sky.


Green mix with pthalo blue, cadmium yellow light, and diox purple, to suggest grassy areas and foliage.


White and light gray into the lightest area of the sky.


Switch from the large brush to the medium-sized one. Reclaim the darks with a mix of diox purple and a touch of cadmium yellow light. Suggest the shapes of trees, rocks, shrubs.


Reclaim the blue areas in the sky and add some reflected blue into the rocks.


Mix some grays to suggest clouds, distant mountains and mid-dark areas in the foreground.


Add cadmium yellow light into the green mix and suggest highlights and patches of wildflowers in the grassy areas.


Add impasto white strokes into the snow-caps of distant mountains.




Switch to the small brush to add the finishing touches. More defined blue strokes into the distant mountains, enhance the shapes of trees, add a few branches of shrubbery in the foreground. Touches of yellow and white here and there to add the feeling of the sunshine sparkle.


Most importantly - stop before I start obsessing and perfecting the thing. It's a sketch. It's done!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I am so proud of myself for remembering to stop painting and take a photo of each step! This is always a major challenge for me. It's too easy to get carried away by the magic of brush and paint.


Happy sketching!

Tatjana

Anonymous Art Show




I can't say if my paintings are included in this show. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. It's an anonymous show!  In any case, I am looking forward to seeing many of you, my art friends, at the opening.

335 Lonsdale Avenue
North Vancouver

It will be a fun evening!

Tatjana

Visceral Shift

Bugaboos Reflections, 30x20, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

On my recent visit to Ontario, I was reminded of my childhood in the Pannonian flatland in northern Serbia. I remember endless fields of corn and sunflowers, wide silvery rivers, and the moody windswept sky. Here is a painting of mine from many years ago, portraying the landscape of my native land.



Flatlands, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



I left the Pannonian plains in the nineties and moved to a completely different landscape, to Vancouver, a city wedged between majestic mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

There were many adjustments to make, the least anticipated one being a visceral adjustment to the grand vertical shapes of the landscape. It took me several years just to be able to visually grasp what I was seeing on my first hiking trips to the mountains of the North Shore, not to mention the Purcell Mountain Range and the Canadian Rockies.

After all those years of living here, I still get surprised, awed, enchanted, by this land. The Bugaboos Reflections (featured on the top of this post) is a perfect example of expressing my feeling of sheer wonder. I wanted to show how it feels like when I find myself in a setting which is so hypnotically unusual, I almost think that I am in a fairytale. That scene is from the Bugaboos mountain in the Purcell Mountain Range in eastern British Columbia.


Talking about unusual, let's give its due to the Halloween with some terrific scary art!





Spider by Louise Bourgeois, National Art Gallery in Ottawa.



Happy Halloween my artsy friends!

Tatjana


Red Larch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki




Pause, Look, Listen...


Golden Larch, 30x15, original acrylic painting
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


It's hard to paint at this time of the year when I am so humbled by nature. "See what I can do," she says and turns all the colors to gold, while I fumble with my brush. It happens every year, yet the glory of autumn never gets old.

This fall I visited the place where our great predecessors roamed with a brush and palette in hand, and where they captured little jewels of nature on canvas.

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.



Colors of Algonquin, October 2017


I made a pilgrimage to the majestic collections of Canadian art:

McMichael Canadian Art Collection, in Kleinburg, Ontario
Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto
National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa



Paintings by Tom Thomson in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection


There is nothing I can say, nothing I can add to the beauty of the Canadian landscape captured in the works of masters:

Tom Thomson.  Lawren Harris.  A. Y. Jackson.  Frank Johnston.  Arthur Lismer.  J. E. H. MacDonald.  Frederick Varley.  A. J. Casson.  Edwin Holgate.  LeMoine FitzGerald.
Thank you!





I reveled in their paintings and listened to what they had to tell me:

Pause

Look

Listen

Observe

Remember

Enjoy

Take the time

Discover the endless gifts of nature

Feel the beauty




Paintings by Tom Thomson in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection


How can we not paint if we have the ability to do so?

Make art.

It is needed.



Tatjana



Rock Isle Lake, Banff, 30x40
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



P.S. If you are not subscribed to my monthly newsletter, you may have missed some of my latest paintings like this one.

If you don't want to miss any new paintings coming from my studio, please consider joining my Art Circle. I send a monthly newsletter with new art, gallery news, snapshots from artsy travelers, and more inspiring tidbits. I would love to have you in my circle of art friends! Click HERE to subscribe.



Summer Gratitude

Mountain Lupine, Wild Flowers, Alpine Meadley, Indian Paintbrush, 16x16, original acrylic paintings by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


This summer was long and scalding hot, but it sure was not lazy. It was packed by traveling to artsy destinations, painting, framing, shipping, and attending art events.

After an extended period swarming with art activities, it's important to look back and acknowledge all the joy and hard work which needed to be done for all these lovely things to happen.

 It's also important to thank all the wonderful collaborators and art lovers who made this summer exceptional.

THANK YOU!

- Beaumont Gallery staff, artists, and visitors who participated in the West Coast Homeland art show. The opening reception was a nice small affair, perfect to make new and meet old friends.




- 2017 Pacific North West Plein Air artists, Maryhill Museum of Art staff and volunteers. The entire event was magnificent!



- Lake O'Hara Trails Club for maintaining one of the most inspiring parks in the Canadian Rockies. Another thank you goes to my hubby for being persistent and phoning the reservations until he was able to secure a camping spot for us this year.



- Kilby Plein Air Event staff, volunteers, participating artists, and visitors, some of whom turned out to be wonderful like-minded souls. What's not to love about spending a weekend on a picture perfect farm and making new friends?



- Charming owners of The Studio Connexion Gallery in gorgeous Nakusp, BC. Perfect location, beautiful art, and very special people. The experience was fantastic and several of my paintings found permanent homes.




- Grant Berg Galleries for expanding representation of my work to the lovely Kananaskis and finding more walls for my art.




- White Dog Studio who took exceptional care of my paintings over years of fruitful collaboration.



- Buckland Southerst Gallery and Lando Gallery for being supportive and encouraging of my artistic development over many years.




- My wonderful art collectors for including my art in your lovely homes and offices!

- All the amazing art friends for making the art world a better place!


I hope you liked my Oscars' speech!  Just to make sure I don't miss anyone, if you are reading this blog post, you are one of the people I want to thank, just for being here, loving art, taking the time to read this and look at my art.

THANK YOU!


I wish everyone a gentle transition into the next season and many successes, however, you choose to define them!

Tatjana

Change


Purcell Patterns, 30x20, original acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


There is one sure way to find out just how much your fans love your work.

Change.

Start doing things differently and you will instantly be told how much your old style is missed. Although this may raise doubts, it's a good thing. We make art. We develop. Our art gains fans. Every single bit of this process is awesome.

So why do I sometimes feel guilty about moving on?

I feel a mix of nostalgia and fear that the life is passing way too fast. Didn't I just take my very first art class (watercolor painting by a fabulous artist Zhu Zhu Mark), a few years ago? Wait, that was in 1995. Ouch!

So much has changed since then.  I've painted watercolor florals, then portraits, then egg tempera icons, oil still life, and many other things. Then I got obsessed with the science of composition and soon after got crazy about the expressionist painting of the iconic Canadian landscape. I stylized it,  composed the heck out of it, gorged on patterns and colors.

My most recent change happened this summer when I decided to completely eliminate the pre-drawing process and instead develop each painting by overlaying shapes unrestricted by lines. It's not something I am planning to keep doing forever. It's just one more destination on my art journey.



Wolf Creek Patterns, 12x16, original acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


I wondered why this corny metaphor kept cropping up, but then I realized that it's not really a metaphor and it most certainly isn't corny. Life is indeed a journey - we can feel it in our legs and arms, our mind and emotions. We aren't today where we were yesterday.

When I was seven, we moved from my grandpa's house where I grew up to a new part of town where I didn't know anyone. In my teens, my country fell apart and the entire system of values disintegrated. In my twenties, I immigrated to Canada and had to rebuild my life. Should a small change in my painting process, seen from the perspective of the entire ever-changing life, be a reason for worry?

And yet, it is.



Dusk Approaching, 14x11, original acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


I don't know who will want to walk next to me on this new trail, or with whom I will want to walk, but I definitively feel curious enough to keep going. Perhaps this curiosity is the kay for a creative life.

All this sounds very melancholic. It's that time of the year when the nature turns and subtly changes everything with it. No need to cheer me up, friends. As wise people say, this too will change.

Basking in gloom,

Tatjana

Plein Air Sketches


Mt Hood from a Pear Orchard, oil, 8x10, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


This summer we had to fight the desert heat, forest fires, smoke-haze, but nothing can stop a resolute plein air painter! Perseverance has paid off. I have many new paintings and my web site has been updated with new pieces. I've also learned a few tricks of the trade along the way, which I want to share with you.

Tip 1 - Decide on your painting location before you set off for a day of painting outside. One can waste hours of wandering around, searching for the most inspiring spot, while the time is passing buy and frustration builds up. If you know where you are going it's much easier to get there, as some wise person said.

Tip 2 - To stay cool even in the worst heat, tie a wet bandana around your neck. When it warms up from your body heat, untie it and swing it a few times in the air, and it will become cool again. Keep it wet - any kind of moisture will do. I learned this from a charming plein air painter from Oregon.

Tip 3 - If the weather is hazy don't despair but go with it, make it work. Distant mountain-peaks seen through a haze have lovely pastel tones, not to mention striking sunsets. A sketch of a red setting sun over a river, disappearing in a haze, has won the first place in the Pacific North West Plein Air event this year.

Here is a selection of my artistic output from recent plein air adventures. I hope you'll enjoy seeing them and, if you need encouragement, feel inspired to head out to paint and share your sketches with the art community.



Little Zig Zag Falls, 14x11, acrylic




Mt Hood from Dalles Ranch Road, 11x14, acrylic





Blue Sky of Kilby, 10x8,oil





Big Beauty, 10x8, oil




Painting outside is an important practise because it teaches us to make quick decisions, paint faster, be more accurate, understand colors and values, and master our tools and materials.

Painting outside with a group has a whole other set of benefits. When I watch other artists paint, I feel my artistic horizons expanding, and, of course, making new friends and meeting old ones is always a joyful experience.

But the most valuable outcome of this summer's plein air adventures was a birth of (for me) brand new concepts and ideas. Something very special happened while I was working on my oil and acrylic sketches. There was something novel and exhilarating in the way those little paintings came together and I am now excited about creating a new series of larger studio paintings.

As I mentioned before, all points on our artistic journey are connected. What we do today affects what we will do tomorrow, and so on. I can't wait to start working on my new paintings!

I hope that you feel excited about you own art adventures, whatever they may be!

Tatjana



Meet Me in Nakusp, Join Me in Kilby!


If you are in the Nakusp area in the next few weeks, please come visit my solo exhibit, or even better, come to the opening on Friday, Aug 18, 5-8pm.

If not, no worries, I will start posting images of the 20 featured paintings over next while, via Instagram, Facebook, as well as here. I would love to hear your feedback! 

I am not supposed to reveal the paintings before the show, but sharing just one or two won't hurt. 

Here is a sneak peek, just for you!



Forest Sunset, acrylic, 10x8, by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


Snowmelt, acrylic, 16x20, by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


If you are looking for a road trip closer to Vancouver, I will be painting at the wonderful Kilby Heritage farm on the last weekend of August. Come join me as a fellow artist or an art lover. 
Registration deadline for painters is August 15 (email events@kilby.ca)

Last year I won the second prize (a free night in a Harison Hot Springs hotel!), but more importantly, I used the paintings I made in Kilby as a submission into the Pacific North West Plein Air event and got juried in. Every step we make on our art journey leads to the next one.

Have a lovely high summer! 

Tatjana