When you come from a relatively flat part of Russia, thrilling mountain vistas are both a joy and a challenge. Just ask Julia Lesnichy.
“Sunset at the Blue Ridge Mountains,” by Julia Lesnichy, 2013, pastel on pastel mat paper, 19 1/2 x 27 1/2 in.
“It’s a challenge for me to paint these mountains, because I had never done it before I moved here two years ago,” she says. “We don’t have mountains where I’m from. It’s mostly creeks and blooming meadows and summer landscapes.”
A typical October view in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia near Lesnichy’s home
What’s more, and although it sounds like a cliché, Lesnichy faced eight months of winter when she was in Russia. “I painted a lot of winter landscapes,” she says.
Julia Lesnichy at work painting in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Crozet, Virginia, in late November
Now that she lives in Crozet, Virginia, she loves to drive along roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where great views abound. “It’s a very beautiful place with lots of overlooks,” says the artist. “I just paint along the side of the road.” Lesnichy especially appreciates these wide expanses when fall gives rich color to the leaves. “I am into color; I am a color painter, so the changing color of both season and time of day appeals to me. I think I have managed to express the color that I see. It’s an expression of my emotions.”
“Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains,” by Julia Lesnichy, 2011, oil, 24 x 28 in.
“Mountains in September,” by Julia Lesnichy, 2013, pastel on board, 16 x 20 in.
Lesnichy, who studied with Lois Griffel, prefers to paint in late afternoon light. The artist moves easily between pastel and oil. She also depicts still lifes and floral arrangements, but her palette and her eye seem to really come alive when the foliage is exploding with reds, yellows, and oranges. “I love exploring color in the local landscape here in Virginia,” she says. “It is a feast to the eye all year round, but especially in the fall.”