Thursday, 15 August 2019

Art Agenda

Cypress, 8x8
original plein air painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

I have two things on my art agenda these days. Preparing my upcoming exhibit at the fabulous Studio Connexion Gallery in Nakusp, BC, and enjoying the plein air painting while the weather cooperates.

Let's start with the plein air stuff. I'll share my essential kit with you. This is what I use for nearby trips to the parks or anywhere where the weight of the pack isn't a major issue.

Here's what I pack up:

- Strada paintbox is made of metal so it's heavy but I like it because it takes various sizes of panels and it's sturdy in the wind.  You can screw in an adapter for the photo easel to its bottom.

- Most often, I use 11x14 or 8x10 canvas panels which I make by gluing gessoed canvas to custom-cut good plywood which I buy in a hardware store. I use other kinds and sizes of supports as well, but this one is my favorite.

- I like having a heavy-duty photo tripod because it's super stable and easily adjustable to different heights.

- The collapsible aluminum stool is practically weightless and good to have either for painting in the sitting position or to place your water bottle on it if you stand while you paint.

- My tubes of acrylic paint, vinyl gloves, and a tiny spray bottle fit in a square metal box.

- Since I paint with acrylics, I need a big water bottle and a container for washing my brushes.

- My brushes and paper towels fit together in a long cardboard box.

- A plastic bag is for garbage and dirty paper towels.

- I use a paper-palette which means that I only squeeze out the amount of paint I need and I throw away the leftover paint. I am looking into improving this because I hate discarding good paint. In the studio, I use a Masters palette box which keeps my paint fresh, but it's bulky and it would have to be carried horizontally so it's not suitable for plein air trips.

- Bug spray is a must for me. You may also want to add sun lotion, hat, sunglasses, jacket, umbrella. Whatever you need to feel reasonably comfortable.

For me, it's essential that the setup is quick and everything fits in a compact bag on my back with the tripod in one hand. This pack is quite heavy but I can walk with it comfortably for a short time.

Again, this kit is meant for easy trips ending at a cafe, not for strenuous hikes into the wilderness. I have a different setup for something like that, which I will write about some other time.

My setup in action on the Cypress Mountain,
 thanks to Jane Appleby for taking this pic!

And now, about the other, exciting thing on the agenda.

The GOOD LAND exhibit starts on September 4 and runs until September 21, 2019. I will also teach a 2-day workshop in Nakusp. You can read more about all that HERE. Please come by to visit us if you are in the area!

I have a few more pieces to finish and then take photos, update archive, varnish the pieces, frame some of them, pack, ship, advertise, find something to wear. Yikes! I better get on with it!

The pieces for my GOOD LAND exhibit are starting to gather in the staging area!

I wish you all the best with your own art agenda!


Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Art and Fire

Spanish Banks, 8x8
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Driving back home from our community garden in Coquitlam last Sunday evening, my husband and I noticed a thick cloud of smoke over Port Moody.

Our first thought was a dreaded forest fire, but it didn't look like that. The source of the smoke was clearly somewhere in the old part of the city.

Checking the online news as soon as we got home, we found out that a block of beautiful old heritage buildings was on fire. Sadly, it included a beloved local bistro where musicians, artists, writers, and all kinds of art lovers have been gathering to socialize and share their love of art and good food. At the time of the fire, a group exhibit was hanging on the walls, including several of my paintings.

The first concern was, of course, checking and thanking the fortune that no one was hurt by the blaze. Unfortunately, the buildings were badly damaged, the businesses suffered a terrible loss, and a few residents lost their homes. In the light of all this devastation, nobody dared ask about art. Words of sorrow and support to the affected flooded the internet and the police and firefighters were left to do their job.

I silently mourned my paintings, fully aware of how small my loss was compared to the big picture. And yet, I have to admit that it hurt to say goodbye to my darlings. 

The next morning, we learned from the onlookers that the art seemed to have survived the fire and a few hours later a call came to pick it up. The firefighters had entered the damaged, unsafe building and saved the art.

I rushed to my car as I was and arrived at the location which looked as if a bomb had gone off. Roads blocked, the structures chared, the street surrounded by the police tape. 

In the midst of destruction, I found the paintings carefully stacked by the wall.

Incredibly, aside from the heavy smoke odor, my pieces didn't suffer a single scratch. There were slight water stains on some of the rescued art, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. I had had paintings returned from professional art galleries in much worse shape.

Other artists showed up and we helped load the art in the cars and left the area. It didn't feel right to linger but I regret not being able to give my thanks to the wonderful firemen who saved our art and took such gentle care of it.

Back in the studio, as I was trying to wash off the smoke smell from my paintings, I made a mental list of the fire-smart practices that I follow. They suddenly seemed even more important.

1. Fire extinguisher placed in a location easy to reach. Check the expiry date to make sure it's functional.

2. Smoke and chemical fumes sensor/alarm installed in the studio and tested regularly.

3. The exit door easily accessible, clear of obstructions.

4. Combustible substances stored safely in an air-tight container and according to the manufacturer's specifications.

5. Computer and cloud data backup, including the comprehensive art archive, refreshed monthly and stored in a fire-proof safe. A second copy of the backup is created quarterly and taken to the safe deposit box in the bank.

All this is essential, but what gives me the most comfort art-wise is the fact that whatever happens, my paintings can't possibly all burn down. Thanks to my wonderful art lovers, they are spread around in homes, galleries, and collections all over the world.

I give my gratitude to all of you who are a part of our expansive art world.

Enjoy the summer and stay fire-safe!


Monday, 15 July 2019

Artist on Vacation

VanDusen Waterfall, 10x8
original plein air painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Here's something new I am doing this summer. I've promised myself a longish vacation. I will be making art and doing other things I love, but without any planning. I will let my creativity fly without any structure or expectations. 

No art events, no to-do lists, no obligations. For two months, it's all about freedom. 

Painting plein air at one of my favorite locations, 
VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver

This may come as a surprise to non-artists, but running an art business, despite its delightfulness, is a lot of serious work. Summers are typically loaded with artsy events and projects and for many years my summers have been flurry or activity. 

I loved my artful summers but I've noticed that the bulk of time somehow gets gobbled by those side-chores that are not so easy to love - packing, loading, driving, unloading, following someone else's instructions, displaying, cleaning up, etcetera. Not to mention loads of administrative tasks that follow everything that we do, including figuring out who wants us to do what and when. 

This year I am taking a little break, but thanks to the wonderful galleries that represent me, my art is as always available to the art lovers and there is more to come! 

Come September, I will be in full gear, rested and refreshed for my solo show and workshop in beautiful Nakusp, BC. Check out my website for details.

Are you wondering what artists do on vacation? 

This artist likes to visit beautiful, inspiring places and hang out at home. I'll spend blissfully unstructured time in the studio, do some plein air painting, hike, garden, check out art museums, and goof-off with my hubby.

Visiting the amazing Audain Art Museum in Whistler,
getting inspired by the visiting collection
from the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

I can't tell you how great this feels. I hope you make some time this summer to take it easy and do whatever you feel like doing!

View from my home studio.
Beautiful things inside and outside!

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Loving Canada!

Some of the paintings that recently found homes. Original paintings by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki. Huge thanks to my collectors, galleries, and supporters!

Tomorrow, we celebrate Canada Day and this summer has special importance for me and my family. It marks twenty-five years since my husband and I emigrated from the former Yugoslavia and settled in Vancouver. A quarter of a century later, our love for this country keeps growing.

As you well know, I express my love for Canada in my paintings. I am sharing some of the pieces that recently found loving homes.

I feel fortunate and grateful to all the art lovers I've encountered on this journey!

Happy Canada Day!


Saturday, 15 June 2019

Re-purposing Supports

Sailing to Nakusp,  11x14, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Recycling and repurposing are increasingly important in our polluted world. Art studios are no exception. Here are a few ideas on how to give a second life to the used and abused painting supports.

The reusable supports that I utilize are mostly wooden stretchers, plywood boards, cradle panels, and loose gessoed canvas.

When I end up with a painting on canvas that just doesn't work and can't be saved, I remove the staples and discard the ruined canvas. If the stretcher bars still look sturdy, I re-stretch a fresh piece of gessoed canvas that I buy per yard in the art store. I used to buy raw canvas and apply gesso myself but I have abandoned this since it takes a huge amount of time and it's very messy.

Another great thing about this is that canvas remnants can be used too. I tape them onto a board like you would do with the watercolor paper. When I finish the painting, I remove the tape and at that point, there are several options for its finishing and presentation.

You can glue it (using acrylic medium) onto a plywood board that you can buy in a hardware store and have it cut in various sizes. These home-made panels are very easy to frame.

Another option is to glue them onto a cradled panel and in that case, they don't even need a frame. I noticed that the small square cradle panel paintings have become very popular in the last few years. They also look great in floating frames.

One more option is to glue small pieces of canvas on cardboard or some kind of sturdy paper, mat them and present them the way you would do with watercolour paintings.

If you perfect this craft of repurposing, you may end up with excellent supports, more versatile than those available in art stores. It takes some practice, care, good tools, and elbow grease, but it's so good to see a pile of refuse turn into a stack of good quality supports ready for new creations.

I hope you try this and come up with even more ideas for avoiding waste of materials and money in your own studio. If you do, please let me know!


Friday, 31 May 2019

Non-Profit Art Places

Cheakamus Lake from Harmony Trail, 20x24,
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

These days, in addition to the commercial art galleries, there are many options for artists to show and sell art in non-profit venues supported by the community. I often send my submissions to such places because I love having my art seen by people who don't normally visit commercial art galleries. It's also a chance to contribute even further because a percentage of each sale goes toward maintaining our wonderful art community spaces.

During the month of June this year, I will have my paintings in five non-profit places. I'll list them all so you can go and check them out if you are in the area and perhaps you'll feel compelled to submit your art there too. If you do, make sure to carefully read their calls for submissions because each venue has its own rules and requirements which must be followed.

Original paintings by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki. Small works on display in June 2019 in non-profit venues in the Vancouver area.

The top four pieces are at the Art Box (Silk Purse Arts Centre in West Vancouver).

The second and third row plus the last piece in the bottom row are in the Gallery Bistro in Port Moody.

The first two of the bottom row are in Gallery 1710 in Tsawwassen.

The second last in the bottom row is in the Federation Gallery on Granville Island, Vancouver.

A selection of my paintings will also be displayed in the Jericho Arts Center in Kitsilano, in the lobby of the community theatre.

I am subscribed to The Artist's Journal, a single-source of Calls for Entry for British Columbia artists who paint or draw, helping these artists increase their exposure and income. This is a great resource and I hope there are similar newsletters available in other provinces and countries.

When our art hangs on the walls where many eyes can see it, something good is bound to happen.

So, let's get informed and start submitting!


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Successful Art Event

Arbutus Beach, 30x30, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

The West of Main Art Walk event was my main project over the past few weeks and it has been a great success in all aspects. I've befriended some wonderful artists, met a few potential business partners, and expanded my collector base. Most importantly, I was thrilled by how my art was displayed and felt satisfaction from the positive feedback I received from the visitors. Sending several paintings off to their new homes was a cherry on the cake.

Over the years, I have participated in numerous art events and if I learned one thing about them it's that they are all very different from each other and one can never assume which one will be a success and which one will flop. 

I gave this a lot of thought and these days, I am very selective in picking and choosing where to direct my resources and my art. 

Here are a few lessons I've learned:

1. Should I?

Be very clear what you expect from an event. It may be sales, promotion, fun, education, collaboration, or something else. Whatever it is, research the prospective event to make sure there is evidence that it has what you require. Ask fellow artists who participated in previous years and search the internet for clues. If the event isn't a real deal, someone out there will have said it.

West of Main Art Walk 2019
Gala opening at the Roundhouse Community Center in Vancouver, BC.
It's a well-organized and well-visited event where art is king.

2. Can I?

Make sure you satisfy the requirements of the event. Do you have enough art available? Can you deliver it, present it, and do all the other things needed for successful participation? Can you afford the resources required? Is the timing right and can you realistically plan all the steps from the moment you commit to the actual event? For this event, I wasn't sure how to transport and mount my paintings, but luckily, I found a solution I could implement. It included purchasing several display easels and testing how much stuff I can pack into my car. 

How many easels fit into one Acura? Eight! :-)

3. Make it Happen!

Once you are pretty sure it's a good match for you, planning is crucial. Consider what art you need to make or modify, how you are going to promote your participation in the event, and all the logistics including the spendings and actions you must take over the period of time you have. Your list might include art materials, frames, display gadgets, labels, shipping/delivery, promo materials, communication with your fans and collaborators. None of this is to be taken lightly or left for the last minute. In planning, attention to detail and timeliness rule. For example, I used an area of my home to stage my display and that helped me in deciding which paintings to include and how to finish them.

West of Main Art Walk - Kitsilano Neighbourhood House venue
Easels and grid walls galore.
 "I am impressed," one visitor exclaimed. "There's no sloppy art here!" 

Have Fun!

Last but not least, take some time to think about having a great time yourself. It's important because your own personal satisfaction will be reflected in your art. Social events are hard on us introverts but we can learn to enjoy them. Prepare well and take care of yourself. What makes you happy when you are out there? A glass of wine? Cool clothes? A friendly face? A chat with someone you trust? Do you enjoy doing a demo? Plan your event around these goodies and avoid things that you don't like. 

It was a good day for a demo!

Easier said than done, but we can do it for the sake of our art!

In other news, my painting Whyte Islet received an honorable mention in the FCA postcard competition. Watch for the cards with these lovely images over the next year in the Federation Gallery on Granville Island.

May your next art event be a great success!


P.S. My acrylic painting workshops are filling in quickly so make sure you sign up soon if you were planning to. The North Vancouver one is in just two weeks! More info on my website HERE.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Painting Trees

Coastal Arbutus, 12x12,
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

This little darling is one of several pieces from my latest series of small tree studies to be shown at the West of Main Art Walk on May 11/12 2019 at the Kitsilano Neighborhood House in Vancouver.

Painting trees is extremely satisfying, especially at this time of the year when there is a huge variety of blossoming species in our parks. If you look carefully, you can see each tree's character reflected in its shape, color, texture, and how it relates to the objects around it.

It's as if trees have attitudes akin to us humans. Some are clustered in social groups, others are rugged loners. Some bask in rich colorful blooms reflected in mirror-like ponds, others are elegant in fashionable grays. But they are all visually fascinating.

Here are a few more examples of my recent tree-portraits. I am sure you can see that I had a lot of fun sketching them with my brush as I didn't shy away from using bold colors and brush marks.

 To see more, visit me and a bunch of local inspiring artists at the West of Main Art Walk. Rain or shine, it will be fun. Don't miss the opening gala at the Roundhouse Community Centre on May 9.

We'll bring a lot of art and all we need to make this event a success is you!


Monday, 15 April 2019

West of Main Art Walk

Morning on the Island, 30x40, original painting
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Location for May 11/12 only!

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Art on the Stage

Glacial Reflections, 20x44 diptych,  original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki
(available in the Grant Berg Gallery, Grande Prairie)

Have you tried staging your art in virtual rooms online?

It's a lot of fun and there are numerous apps that do this. Some are free and some you have to purchase. For the image above, I used a free app from I loved this fun-looking room because it helped me imagine my painting in the home of someone who loves the outdoors as I do.

Try it yourself. It may give you ideas on how to present and display your art.

In other news, the spectacular Luminescence exhibit is still on in the Deer Lake Art Gallery. One more week to see it, closing on April 6, 2019.  Here are a few pics from the opening and my three paintings that celebrate the phenomenon of luminescence in nature.

Having a good time at the Luminescence show opening
with a watercolor artist Enda Bardell and her hubby

Chatter Creek, 20x24,
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Dusk Approaching, 8x10, 
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Whytecliff Park Sunset Study, 11x14, 
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Until April 6, 2019, these pieces are available for sale in the Deer Lake Art Gallery in Burnaby BC.

This exhibit consists of some fabulous 3D and 2D art pieces including a fire-spewing mechanical dragon - a photo just wouldn't do it justice. I hope you'll have a chance to visit before the show ends.

All my best,


Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Happening Now!

For the art lovers in Edmonton, I hope you can visit this group exhibit featuring three artists with different styles, unified by the theme of people and places.

In Burnaby, it's the fourth year of the Luminescence annual event. This one will be quite spectacular. More info and how to get your tickets:

See you there!


Thursday, 28 February 2019

Seven Steps

seven-step creative process

The most important step before all steps occurs when the spirituality of a moment connects with creativity. 

This one happened for me on a hiking trail. There have been many such moments, but what made this one special was the visceral joy that I experience when faced with an especially lyrical composition.

Step 1 -  Yellow imprimatura and a gestural block-in of dark areas with transparent red oxide. The canvas is 16x20 and I am using a #18 flat brush and heavy-body acrylic paint. I will only switch to a slightly smaller flat brush (#14) for the very last step.

Step 2 -  Going darker in the darkest-dark areas with diox purple. Same brush, same gestural technique. Adding dry-brush strokes to suggest the direction of branches. This is important because of the overall design that inspired in the first place.

Step 3 - Adding medium values and cool colors. The blue is a mix of pthalo blue, diox purple, and titanium white. The green is a mix of pthalo blue, cad yellow, and transparent red oxide. The strokes follow the design. The blue in this photo is overly vibrant.

Step 4 - Taming the overly vibrant blue with a red-violet made from the diox purple, transparent red oxide and titanium white.

Step 5 - Vibrant green makes the composition pop. It's the same green I made in step 3 with the addition of more cad yellow.

Step 6 -    The addition of light blue helps deepen the background and soften the shadows in the foreground while reinforcing the design. It's the same blue from step 3 plus more titanium white. 

Step 7 - It's the time for adding the lightest lights: a mix of transparent red oxide and titanium white in the sunlit path, cad yellow in the sunlit mosses and foliage, pure titanium white in a few lightest spots around the trees to suggest the sunrays.

The Spirit of Forest, original painting by TatjanaMirkov-Popovicki

At this point, more details can be added with a smaller brush and some areas could use a cleanup. For now, I let it be. I'll revisit it at a later time. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. You can try out the same process or come up with a different one to capture in paint your own moment of awe. 

Thank you for reading!