Plein Air Painting Kit



As the title of the post says, I am preparing a plein air painting kit for my upcoming trip to the Columbia River Gorge. The card above says it all. It will be my first event with an American group of painters so I am trying to make myself look as professional as I can.





Just kidding, artists are artists wherever you go, lovely creative people obsessed with the things on their easels, and great promoters of artistic camaraderie. I hear that they have some lovely wineries just south from the gorge too.

Nevertheless, it's good to be prepared for the maximum enjoyment while painting outside. I am traveling by car so the temptation is to bring the kitchen sink but I'll try not to. I prepared a list  (two lists, one for acrylic and one for oils) and some pics of what I am packing up. If you notice me forgetting something important, please do let me know!


Tatjana's Acrylic Plein Air Painting Kit:



  • my brand new Strada paint box (I am retiring my super-heavy Julian easel)
  • tubes of acrylic paint (titanium white, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, transparent red oxide, quinacridone red, dioxazine purple, ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, cerulean blue, phthalo green)
  • synthetic brushes (flats and filberts, sizes 6-12)
  • water jug
  • water sprayer





Tatjana's Oil Plein Air Painting Kit:



  • my semi-new Guerrilla painter cigar box
  • tubes of alkyd oil paint (titanium white, cad yellow, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, winsor red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, pthalo blue, cobalt blue, phthalo green)
  • Walnut alkyd medium (small jar)
  • Odorless thinner (small jar + a bigger jar to clean brushes)
  • hog brushes (rounds, filberts, and flats, sizes 6-12)
  • baby oil (for cleanup)





Miscellaneous Items:



  • my hand-made painting panels
  • paper palettes
  • sealable palette box
  • rags and paper towels
  • tripod
  • comfy backpack
  • umbrella
  • sun screen
  • bug spray
  • plastic garbage bag
  • camera
  • notebook
  • lap top
  • cool hat
  • hiking gear
  • something decent to wear for gatherings






The event includes a month long group exhibit of the plein air paintings in the Maryhill Museum of Art, so I am bringing a few frames with me and all the hanging paraphernalia. This will be fun, I can't wait to get there!

I'll make sure to take photos and will report back with my impressions, in case some of you are tempted to enter this annual event next year.

If you happen to be in the Gorge in August, please make sure to visit the museum. The area is beautiful!


Happy painting!

Tatjana

cool hat - check!

Summer Giveaway

Forest Trail, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

If you want to make a good use of the summer plein air painting season, it's important to be well prepared. Ample amount of art supplies and equipment is essential. So are light-weight, quality painting supports. I will explain in a few easy steps how to make them, and show you an example of the end result.


But before I get to that, let me share this with you. If you collect art and like my paintings, please consider joining my circle of art friends at this time. I am planning a summer giveaway which may interest you. I explain all about it in my newsletter. I am looking forward to sharing my art with you!


How to make light-weight plein air panels


I like to use 1/4 inch thick plywood which my hubby cuts for me into standard, easily frameable sizes (8x10, 9x12,11x14, etc.).

I paint all sides with a layer of white gesso (which prevents warping) and let it dry before mounting a gessoed canvas on one side of the board.




Place your panel on the gessoed canvas (good side up), outline its shape and cut out the marked rectangular piece with scissors. Remember which side of the canvas goes up.


Spread any kind of acrylic medium evenly over the side of the board facing you. Cover the surface completely, including corners.



Place the canvas piece on the wet side of the board. Remember which side goes up. Although you have a rectangle and it shouldn't matter, there are slight imperfections in the cut which may make the rectangle wider on one side. It's nice to have the shape of the canvas match perfectly the shape of the board.


Press firmly to affix the canvas to the board and to get rid of any air-bubbles.



Make several boards at the time, stack them up and press with something heavy. I leave them to completely dry overnight.




The next day, you have a nice surface for your backyard plein air painting session or for any other project you can think of.





I had to capture these glorious white peonies which last too short, but at least I have a memory of them. Taking time to keenly observe their colors and shapes was a valuable lesson.





In my last post, I invited you to join me for the opening of the West Coast Homeland group show. I am pleased that some of you showed up and I also made some wonderful new art friends. A great time was head by everyone!

Happy Summer my artful friends!

Tatjana







Group Show Checklist





In case you are wondering what an artist needs to do in order to participate in a group art show, here is a kind of a checklist that you can use, or make your own.


May 1 - Monthly review of exhibition opportunities. Picked a call for artists which sounded great. The theme matched my work and the venue was new to me, which goes with my goal to meet as many new artists and art lovers as I possibly can.

May 4 - Submitted images of my paintings which matched the requirements.

May 9 - Acceptance arrived via email. Yeah! Small celebration.

May 11 - Asked the venue to clarify any rules that weren't clear to me, and paid the exhibition fee.

May 11 - 18 Communicated with the venue and provided:

  • Statement
  • Bio
  • SM links
  • Final listing of paintings

May 19 Reviewed the venue's ads on SM and web site, made any corrections as needed. Liked and shared the ads.

May 31 Announced the exhibit in my newsletter, blog, and website.

June 6  Spruced up the paintings. Touched up the varnish where needed, made sure the edges were clean and attached the hanging hardware.

June 8 Wrapped and delivered the paintings to the venue. Introduced myself, thanked the staff for their help, and admired the venue.

June 9 Announced the exhibit to all my art friends:

  • sent an e-vite to my art circle subscribers
  • emailed the art clubs
  • Facebook page post (personal and art business)
  • Pintrest post
  • Instagram post
  • Tweeted
  • etc.

June 11 Checked the closet for something to wear at the opening. Yikes! Raided Winners one hour before the closing time. Found a black top and sandals (sigh of relief).

June 14 Created a whimsical add with a collage of my paintings and my statement for the last minute invite (see above).

June 15 Posted the last minute invite on SM.

And here we are - the opening is tonight! I am bringing a supply of business cards and art cards to give away (while quantities last).

I can't wait to meet my old and new art friends, peruse the exhibit, and chat about all things creative. Must remember to take photos - please remind me if you are there!

June 15, 2017 
7-10pm
Beaumont Studios
316 W 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC

I hope to see you there!

Tatjana





You are Invited!

The Botanical Beach painting (see my previous blog post) is one of my three coastal landscape pieces to be featured in the West Coast Homeland group art exhibit of eight emerging painters and photographers in the Beaumont Gallery in Vancouver, June 13-25.

The opening reception is on Thursday, June 15, 7-10pm. 

The address is 316 W 5th Avenue, Vancouver.  It's a charming artists' cooperative space in the heart of the city.




You are invited!

Tatjana

Backyard Art


Botanical Beach, 30x40, original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Botanical Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, 30×40 is one of my three pieces to be featured in the West Coast Homeland art exhibit in the Beaumont Gallery in Vancouver, June 13-2. The opening reception is on June 15, 7-10pm. The address is 316 W 5th Avenue, Vancouver. You are invited! 


The summer has finally arrived in my neck of the woods and with it, the art activities gravitate toward the outdoors. There are plenty of things to paint just outside my studio.





Red Rhodos, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


I call it Backyard Art, and you don't need a backyard to do it. It consists of sketching things around your home. Any home and neighborhood have something of interest for an artist's eye.

Here are a few sketches I've done there over years, in various styles and techniques. As you can see, I am drawn to interesting organic patterns, as well as shadows and sunlit foliage.




The focus is on enjoying the process, the good weather, and all the humble little things of beauty which have no ambition of competing for attention in art galleries.

A very special thank you goes to my hubby for making our garden beautiful and abundant with a great subject matter for sketching. My sketches of flowers are always his favorites.



The hanging baskets and potted flowers are compliments of my plant-loving husband Sinisa


Here is an example of a daylily painting which my hubby and I painted together a few years ago.



Daylily, original painting by Sinisa and Tatjana



If you have an art lover in your family who might appreciate being encouraged to pick up a brush, Backyard Art is a great place to start. You can even turn an afternoon of Backyard Art into a family or neighborhood event.

Enjoy the summer, your home, your loved ones, and of course, art!

Tatjana

Small to Large


Arbutus and Brambles, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


I've been happily sketching small compositions in the past few weeks, so the next logical step was to look at them with a critical eye and decide which ones wanted to become larger studio paintings.

Some scenes feel great in a small format. I think of them as little jewels and let them be. But there are some which beg to grow. I visualize them on a large canvas, and if what I "see" excites me, why not make it happen?

I included here three examples of small sketches and their work in progress big sisters. In two cases I even changed the composition ratio from rectangle to square. The foreground needs a bit more work, but I like the direction it's taking so far. It's as if the beach has more breathing space.



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


The first thing to remember when going big is to use appropriately sized brushes. But even more important is to decide on the painting process.

There are two ways one can approach painting a larger version of a smaller piece.

One way is to replicate the smaller image using a grid, constructing the composition using the geometry of Dynamic Symmetry, or copying the image in some other way. I use replication when I have a particular idea which I want to explore. For example, I may replicate the composition but vary the color temperatures, change certain element of the composition, or introduce a new material. This approach is great for making a series of works, but that's not what I did this time.



Cabin Lake, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



Cabin Lake, Cypress, 30x30, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



The other way, which is what I did with these pieces, is to paint larger paintings from scratch, using the smaller pieces just as visual references. This approach allows for great gestural brushstrokes and organic development of the painting, just like making a brand new piece.



Salt Spring Island, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



Salt Spring Island, 24x30, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



Either way is valid. Try them both, or stick to one, but whatever you do, keep making art!

Tatjana

Step by Step


Garibaldi, 20x24, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


I've been playing with a new painting process, so it's time for another step by step post.  This is just one point on my journey to learn as many different ways to make a painting as I possibly can, without getting off-track with my own creative voice. In this process, step 2 is what makes it new to me.

1. Mother Color

Pick a color for the imprimatura and cover the canvas with it in a transparent layer. Visible strokes are okay. I lately use a rag to wipe off excess paint. The goal is to cover the entire canvas with a "mother" color but to still let the whiteness of the canvas shine through. This time I picked blue.

2. Flow

Block-in dark areas without acknowledging their meaning. Focus on the direction of strokes only.  How do the dark areas seem to "flow" in the scene? Move the brush or the palette knife the same way. This is a new step for me and I am having a lot of fun with it. Use at least three different colors (from dark-darks to mid-darks), to do this. The key is to ignore shapes of individual objects in the scene, but instead to move with the flow within dark areas.  With a light touch and dry brush, allow some of those flowing strokes into lighter areas as well. I used a dark purple for the first darkest dark, then a mid- value green, and a mid-value yellow.






3. Edges

Start introducing more values to define objects, considering their edges. Attend to the soft-edged areas first, by using a dry brush, blending, or whatever trick you use to preserve softness. Stop to evaluate the placement of object before diving in with hard edges. It's not fun having to go back and make too many corrections.




4. Surface

Decide which areas are best left thin, and which require thick juicy layers of paint. Typically, dark areas are left thin while the light areas receive thick delicious strokes. But, as anything else, there is opportunity for innovation. Acrylic is especially forgiving with this. I added thick lightest lights in the sunlit areas of the rocks and tree-trunks,.




5. Magic

Bring the picture to life. This is a step which is not really a step. Every painting needs something different. What does this one need? I have yet to figure that out. I may have to do steps 3 and 4 a few times going back and forth. There is a danger of ruining the painting's freshness, but I also don't want to abandon it before it receives due attention. Is it done yet? I think it's (almost) there.


Cabin Lake, Cypress, 16x20, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


Happy painting!

Tatjana

New Things

Lighthouse Park, 12x9, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki



I have a few new sketches to share and some ideas about finding new opportunities to enrich our creative experience.

I looked back at art projects and events where I had participated over past years and noticed patterns of coasting by inertia, entering the same shows and repetitive events. Doing the same thing over and over can feel like a tradition or a ritual, even a matter of loyalty. But, I noticed that at some point my creative contribution gets depleted. There just isn't anything I can add or learn, unless I venture away from (my) beaten path.

At first it feels a bit scary to throw oneself out into the world, meet new people, get exposed to new environments. It's unnerving to be in a place where I don't know anyone and nobody knows me.

But this anonymity has its advantages. There are no preconceived expectations, and there certainly are no agendas to navigate. It's liberating to be a new gal on the block. People are generally kind and patient with a newcomer, and there lies a chance to learn new things, and maybe even shine.  

I've done this several times and each experience was extremely invigorating and educational.



Beach Patterns, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


Two years ago I wanted to do some plein air painting in the beautiful Okanagan. I stumbled into The Bear Valley Highlands workshops and signed up without knowing a single person there. Luckily,  artists are one of the easiest people to befriend! The event was a fantastic experience. I made new friends, learned something new, and enjoyed a weekend in a gorgeous setting.

This year I decided to check out our neighbors in the south and this time I stumbled (I do a lot of stumbling) into the Pacific Nothwest Plein Air event. I submitted my application and was thrilled to be accepted. This is what I will be doing in the first week of August. Painting the stunning Columbia River Gorge scenery in the company of some top notch  painters, followed by a month long group show in the Maryhill Museum of Art. in Goldendale, WA.





Taking risks has its rewards! I can't wait to meet new art friends and get inspired by the Columbia Gorge landscape.

Reconnecting with old art friends and making new ones is one of the best aspects of a creative life. The upcoming plein air painting season is a perfect opportunity for that. I hope to see many of you, my old and new friends, in some of the paint-outs this year.

Tatjana



Art Retrospective


Salt Spring Island, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki (2017)


When is the time to take a moment and look back at one's work created over years by hanging a mixed exhibit of old and new works?

This typically happens late in the artist's career, but wouldn't it be fun to have a retrospective exhibit earlier?

It's not practical to do this in a commercial gallery, or even in a non-profit one, but there is a way. Public spaces are perfect for curating our own shows, and that's what I have done.

During the month of April, a selection of my paintings will be displayed in the Port Moody Public Library. There will be eighteen pieces, the earliest one created in 2006, the latest one just a couple of weeks ago, and everything in between.

Gabriola Morning, 11x14, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki (2012)



What ties the exhibit together is the theme of our coastal landscape, with a couple of exceptions. Sizes of works vary, and no two paintings are alike so I think that this will be an interesting exhibit.

The library is at the same time a serene and an active place with many visitors and I am thrilled to contribute to the visual joy of this public space. It's an honor to have people of all ages, my neighbors and visitors from other cities, see my art.


Salt Spring Gold, 24x30, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki (2009)


Here is the library's location in case you find yourself in the neighborhood and have time to drop by. If you do, please let me know if any of the paintings inspired you in some way. I would love to hear your impressions. If you wish to own any of the paintings, I will be glad to to sell it to you after the show is over, just give me a shout.


Coal Harbor, 20x16, acrylic sketch by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki (2006)


For those of you who are searching for opportunities to show your art, here's a hint - check out your public library! They may even be so kind to put you in the local news - yikes!  

Happy Spring!

Tatjana

In the Rabbit Hole

Black Tusk Trail, 30x22, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


How much joy can be found in a single brush stroke? How to preserve that joy in a finished piece?

These questions go through my mind as I continue experimenting with making marks using various tools. I learn that every single mark can be a source of delight, for the painter, and for the art lover who looks at the painting.

I played to my heart's content with palette knives over the past few months and now I am into big brushes. Here are my latest purchases.



Some turned out to be more useful than others, and surprisingly some cheap ones work quite well. But overall, the best ones are still those that cost the most. Painters can't be thrifty with tools and materials.

I also decided to revisit filbert brushes which I didn't use before because of that round beginning of the stroke which I couldn't figure out how to use. But now, with some playing around, I see their versatility. I am probably the last one to discover that filberts can make all sorts of lovely marks, which add variety to the painting. As they say, better late than never.

Here's how it all looks like on a few sketches.








One thing about experimenting is that once you start, you can't stop. I think that it's because of the element of play in it, but also because experiments keep birthing new ideas, and this could go on forever.

At which point do you stop playing and pull out a brand new large canvas?

I set a temporary goal to start a new painting every five days, just to make sure I don't get lost down the rabbit hole. I am just now realizing that finishing them up should be a part of the goal too. Hopefully I'll have a new finished piece for my next blog post!

Happy experimenting!

Tatjana