Step By Step - Brambles Study

Brambles Study, 11x14, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Here is a very quick (1h) acrylic sketch with step by step snapshots that capture the painting process. This was painted from a photo displayed on my computer screen, without any preliminary drawings, thumbnails etc. This is a quick and joyful way of painting, perfect for trying out patterns and compositions in preparation for a larger piece. Aside from having great fun, another good thing about this approach is that you end up with these fresh small pieces which are little darlings all by their own.

Step 1 - Transparent red oxide imprimatura and a gestural block-in of dark shapes with diox purple. I use a large flat brush for this step.

Step 2 - Adding gestural block-in with a mid-value green mixture.

Step 3 - Repeat the same approach with mid-value mixtures of  earthy yellow and red

Step 4 - Block in the blues in the background to suggest the sea, sky, and distant coastline

Step 5 - Switch to a medium-sized flat brush and reinstate the dark areas, add details - branches, foreground texture etc.

Step 6 - Add sunlit areas - lights in the bark, grasses, leaves, using light mixtures of gray, green, orange, yellow. Keep reinstating darks and adding details.

Step 7 (the Final image on the top) - Switch to a medium/small (e.g. #6) flat brush, punch up all lights, punch up the chroma by adding a few new colors (reds, pinks, greens), and add as many details as you feel needed. It's fun to have some crisp highlights while leaving other areas unresolved.

This was quick. I am ready for the next one!

Happy painting,

Artful Memory

Whytecliff Park Sunset, 30x30, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

If you are a creative person, you must have experienced those memorable moments of inspiration which get rooted so deep in your mind, they never disappear. For a visual artist, those are often images with something special about them, be it an intriguing composition, a combination of colors, or just the sheer inexplicable "feel" of the moment.

While other delightful moments eventually fade into oblivion, these darlings keep coming back, and every time they do, I promise myself I'd do something special with them one day.

A beautiful art friend recently wrote to me describing a location which holds a special place in my heart. Ever since reading about it, an image from years ago started popping up, begging to be painted. Although I was working on anothr painting and had a few more planned, I couldn't shake off the desire to revisit this particular scene.

I searched my sketches and photo archives and I found a pic of a summer evening in the Whytecliff Park, looking west toward Bowen Island as the sun was setting down. I will never forget the joy of being there to witness the beauty of this stunning area.

After all those years, I finally recreated the moment in paint.

What a glorious gift it is to be able to do this!


Art Connections

Pacific Sunset, 16x20, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki (Lando Gallery, Edmonton, AB)

I recently had a pleasure of hearing back from a few art lovers who gracefully shared photos showing my art displayed in their homes. This a wonderful reminder for artists how our creations touch lives of people we may never get to meet.

Although art enters a marketplace and gets passed on by a transaction of sale, it is unlike any other kind of product. Art that leaves the studio becomes an active part of someone's life. It inspires, relaxes, reminds, enchants.

Art interacts over space and time.

Take the Golden Sunset painting for example.

Golden Sunset (sold), original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

It was inspired by many trips to the Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.

It's easy to fall in love with this place, its network of forest trails and beautiful rocks where one can spend hours gazing at the ocean, admiring the view of nearby islands. For me, this scene embodies the journey my husband and I made from Serbia to this amazing place on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. In 1994 we took a leap of faith and traveled thousands of kilometers to the most beautiful place on earth. That's what I think of when I look at this image.

For the art-loving family who now looks at it every day, it means something else.

Golden Sunset in its permanent home

It reminds them of growing up in this gorgeous area, having picknicks with friends, taking long walks with their dog. Our memories are different, yet our sentiment is the same.

It's about people cherishing experiences with their loved ones and feeling connected to the land.

Here are a few more pics sent in by the generous collectors to inspire us all to create, appreciate, and add art to our homes.

Golden and Orange Larch perched  in a beautiful spot

Mountain High welcoming visitors 

Little Zig Zag Falls helping its owners relax 

As I work on new sketches and paintings, I can't help wonder whose lives they might touch one day.

Whitewater, 12x16, work in progress study for a larger piece, now on the easel

All my best,


Five Easy Steps

Winter Trail, 20x24, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Some of you know that in addition to painting, I also write short stories. In the past couple of months, I've felt a bit blocked and I decided to take a five-day online class to get the words and sentences flowing again. In this excellent course, aspiring writers are nudged to write a short story each day, taking various approaches. Each suggested approach consists of a few well-defined steps.

This reminded me of the value of "steps" in the creative process in general. The internet is inundated with articles of the type "Five Easy Steps to <fill in the blank>." There is a good reason for their popularity - they are easy to grasp and they incite action. 

The notion relies on two premises:

1. Creativity is a process rather than a product.

2. We can accomplish many things we didn't know we could if we break up the activity into a few well-explained steps.

I found this helpful because, when things get muddled, blocked, or just plain scary, it's because I've been obsessing about what I want to create, rather than focusing on how to do it. Every once in a while, I somehow manage to forget that for me, the best part of creativity is the "how" - working out the steps. What do I want to do first, second, third, etcetera? Steadily taking those steps and watching the magic unfold on the canvas is what gives me joy.

There must be a million ways to make a painting, and for years, my intention has been to learn, try, and hopefully invent, as many of them as I can.

Here is an example. You can use it to paint a landscape, a portrait, a still life, or an abstract. Take your pick what you want to paint, but consider these five steps:

1. Cover the canvas with a cadmium yellow imprimatura mixed with a lot of medium, and wipe off some of it with a rag.

2. Use the largest palette knife you have to block in dark shapes with dioxazine purple color.

3. Switch to a large flat brush and block in the medium-value shapes using red oxide, cerulean blue, and medium neutral gray.

4. Get a medium-size filbert brush and add lights using titanium buff and pale pink.

5. Add some caligraphy marks with a rigger brush, a chopstick, and the tip of a nail.

I totally made this up. Still, don't you feel like going through these steps just to see what would turn out?  I do. There's something about steps that's hard to resist.

So, make up your own five steps and dive in. Try something you don't usually do. Have fun!

If you'd like to share, send me an email, or respond to this post, or post it on the Facebook. I'd love to see something fun and creative.

Happy painting!


The Groove

Back on Track, 8x8, original acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

For many of us, winter holidays are an opportunity to re-connect with family and friends, to reset and re-start what we are doing, to experience a new beginning. This is supposed to be refreshing and inspiring, but there is also a side-effect. Amidst all the celebrations, I tend to lose my groove.

I love my groove. It's a good groove - making art, experimenting, studying, dreaming up new work. What's not to like about it?

In fact, I like it much more than all the holidays and celebrations in the world, and I am not sure that I need any re-starting and refreshing at all. These things are distractions that stand between me and my art, making me squirrelly and grumpy.

I am not a holiday Scrooge. I can do it for a day or two, but when it stretches over a week, it messes up my groove.

It's already the third week of January and I am finally back in my studio, happy as a clam. I got back to work in small steps and with a lot of play.

The piece above is 8x8 inches and it was a joy to make. I jumped into it without any planning whatsoever, used pigments at hand, blocked in wildly without drawing, played with brushstrokes to my heart's content. It felt great!

I hope that you haven't lost your groove over the holidays, but if you did, do what you need to to get back into it.

Make your art!


The Art of Collaboration

Seymour Sunset, 8x8, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

For my last blog post of the year, I would like to highlight an aspect of art which doesn't naturally come to mind when one thinks of solitary artists spending most of our time in the studio. Yet, it's an enlightening part of the art journey which helps us share what we do and saves us from becoming hermits. I am talking about collaboration with our community.

As artists and art lovers, we know how much art is needed; we feel it in our hearts and in our bones. For many of us, our sense of purpose depends on our capability to make art - we wouldn't be able to lead meaningful lives without it.

But, passionate as we are about art, are not the only consumers of artistic creations. Art can beautify, grace, amuse, inspire, in short, art can enhance the wellbeing of everyone.

We put our art into public exhibits, we send it into the art market, we teach and mentor aspiring artists. But, the truth is that most people in our communities will never visit an art show, purchase a piece of art, or take an art class, and that's okay.

The good news is that most people do enjoy seeing art, and the onus is on us, artists, to find a way to make that happen. When an opportunity comes up, let's make sure that we show up and deliver.

Indian Arm, original painting by Tatjana,
this image has been featured on the Coquitlam Search and Rescue team's promo cards

When my hubby, a member of the Coquitlam Search and Rescue Team asked if I would be willing to allow one of my paintings to be used as the image on the SAR team's promo cards, which they use to thank their generous donors, I was worried that the recipients would, instead of the image of a painting, prefer a beautiful photograph from one of the local parks in the SAR team's search area.

We decided to give it a try and it worked like a charm. The feedback has been very positive, and we found out what we should have known all along. People love art! How could I have ever doubted that?

This season, we used another of my paintings and this one has been a hit too. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to hear that people who love their community and want to keep people in it safe, also appreciate art. What a fantastic opportunity this collaboration has been to share our joys and concerns.

Buntzen Creek Memory, original painting by Tatjana,
this image has been featured on the Coquitlam Search and Rescue team's promo cards

If you are thinking of supporting the Search and Rescue team in your community, please do. The Coquitlam SAR website is at . I recommend visiting it to read a touching story about a recent rescue which gained a lot of attention in the media.  It's just one of many, made possible by the SAR teams and individuals who support them. I am thrilled to be doing my part in the way that is most meaningful to me - through my art.

Diamond Head Trail Descent, original paintings by Tatjana,
featuring members of the Coquitlam SAR team on their winter training exercise

I wish everyone many artful adventures in 2018. May all your outrageous risk-taking be of the creative kind!

Happy New Year!


Happy Winter!

Pink Shadows, 16x20, original acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

This time of the year, some of us are trying to avoid the seasonal madness, but if that's what you enjoy, I wish you the craziest holidays yet!

If you are more of a hibernating kind, like me, may your holiday season be restful and peaceful. If you like to spend an hour or two curled up with a book and a cup of tea, I can recommend some artsy novels. I enjoy books by author Susan Vreeland who weaves art into her stories in the most imaginative way. My favorites of her books so far are Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Klee Wyck. The lovers of Vermeer and Emily Carr will be especially enthralled with these tales.

If you feel like going out and you are not hitting the slopes, it's a good time to visit galleries and art exhibits. Here are a few that are close to my heart, just make sure to check the working hours to make the best use of your trip.

Buckland Southers Gallery in Dundarave Village in West Vancouver. A lovely area for a walk by the sea, a cup of coffee or a meal in the neighborhood restaurants, and for perusing of paintings in this charming gallery.

Federation Gallery on Granville Island in Vancouver. Don't miss the annual exhibit of paintings by the signature senior artists, on view until December 23, 2017. My two paintings, Rock Isle Lake and Purcell Patterns are included in the show.

Grant Berg Gallery is the art epicenter of Grande Prairie! If you are in the city, you can't possibly miss it!

Lando Gallery in Edmonton, in the midst of a vibrant community, always a great place for a visual feast!

The Studio Connexion Gallery opens its doors to eager art lovers in Nakusp, BC.

Berg Gallery, an art jewel in the Delta Hotels by Marriott Kananaskis Lodge in Kananaskis, BC.

Enjoy your own chosen gifts of winter, be it winter sports, heartwarming food, the cheer of family and friends, or the peace and quiet of your own creative space.

I will meet you here on the last day of the year to share the next step of my art journey.

Happy winter my artsy friends, may all your celebrations be joyful!