Finding Serenity in Art Exhibits

Lavender Field, 16x28, original painting by TatjanaMirkov-Popovicki

There's nothing like shoveling snow that makes me seek images of summer. Will it ever come?

It will, but not any time soon.

In the meantime, let's get transported to the long days graced by a fragrant breeze by the means of art. This painting reminds me of a visit to the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm on the Salt Spring Island on the west coast of BC.

Ah, the colors, the aroma, the serenity!

This is yet another proof that art embodies the impressions and feelings rather than just depicting a scene.

Another way to find serenity in bad (and good) weather is to visit art museums. On my recent trip to Southern California, I discovered three museums I had somehow missed in the past.

1. Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena blew me away with its collection of Impressionist and other art by my favorite artists - Van Gogh, Cezanne, Frans Hals, and many, many other masters.

Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA

2. Huntington Library Art Collection, Museum, and Botanical Gardens, also in Pasadena, are well worth a long visit. The property is incredible, especially the gardens.  Aside from a stellar art collection, the museum also houses historical and scientific artifacts. There is something for everyone!

3. The Irvine Museum in Irvine, CA occupies just a corner of the ground floor in an office building, but its collection of California's Impressionist Art is a feast for the eyes. I warmly recommend paying it a visit.

After seeing all those works by so many masters, I feel grateful for any opportunity to show my work in group exhibits with my fellow artists.

This time, I have been invited to join a group of international painters with roots in the Balkans and thereabouts. I am thrilled to have four paintings included in this exhibit.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, please come see us in Coquitlam!

Opening reception on February 26, 7-10pm, Restaurant Vayat, 1147 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam, BC. Everyone welcome! 

All my best,


Work in Progress

Eleven snowy paintings that I painted over the last few years finally found their way into a cohesive exhibit. 

They will be displayed in the foyer of the District of North Vancouver Municipal Hall for two months. Thank you North Van Arts for doing such a stellar job of bringing art to the community!

In other news, here's what's going on in the studio. 

I am working my way through the studies of a complex composition. My goal is to approach this painting more analytically than I usually do, just to see what will happen. One early reward is the joyful process of creating interesting small sketches, each of them teaching me something about various aspects of the creative process.

1. Thumbnail Sketch

This is something I almost never do but now, nudged by the artist extraordinaire Mike Svob, I am giving it a chance. The idea is to determine the composition using rough values (light, medium, dark) of the main shapes in the image. Years ago, I thoroughly studied and practiced the ancient theory of Dynamic Symmetry and I learned to quickly develop a harmonious composition in my head, but I  like the idea of recording this step so it doesn't get forgotten. Below are my reference photo and a 3-value thumbnail sketch.

2. Study of Shapes

I usually block in the shapes while I am laying down the underpainting of the final piece. But doing it separately on a smaller canvas allows more freedom in pushing the shapes around, making changes, and even ruining the sketch in the interest of experimenting and learning. I used three pigments - titanium white, dioxazine puple, and transparent red oxide and I took care to keep the light, medium, and dark shapes distinct.

3.  Color Study

This was (still is) a fun process which I normally do while creating the actual piece. This time I am working on a medium-sized canvas which will remain a sketch. 

I am using a wide range of pigments while I play with gestural brushstrokes, caligraphy, wet in wet technique, dry brush marks, glazing...

Each application of paint slightly changes the look and feel of the piece in an interesting way. It's so much fun, I am finding it hard to stop. I could keep playing like this forever.

Seriously, I need someone to stop me, please! 


Daily 20min Sketches

Three-value three-pigments 20min study
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

I don't know why, but the beginning of the year can be very sluggish in the studio. It's as if I feel that I should start something completely new and different, and at the same time, I know that doesn't make sense. The world doesn't suddenly change on January first, and neither do we.  Actually, it does, and we do, but the change happens continuously, from day to day, be it January first or any other day in the year.

In any case, those early days of the year benefit from a boost of something different and energetic that revitalizes the daily practice.

This year, a most welcome challenge came from a master painter Mike Svob, who happens to be a good friend and someone I highly respect.

Mike is hosting a youtube channel for artists and I highly recomment that you give his 5-day 20min painting exercises a try, even if the challenge is now over.

Here are some of my results from Mike's challenge. How fun is that!

I myself plan of re-doing this whenever I feel stuck. It was a great fun and a valuable learning experience, not to mention Mike's inspiring, informative, and entertaining performance. You can find him on youtube here.

Huge thank you to Mike and everyone who participated in the challenge. It was a blast!