On painting outdoors > When you come from a relatively flat part of Russia, thrilling mountain vistas are both a joy and a challenge. Just ask Julia Lesnichy.

“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.”

Painting outdoors in Virginia
Julia Lesnichy, “The Blue Ridge Mountains in June,” oil, 24 x 36 in.

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.

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.”

Lesnichy, who studied with Lois Griffel (who was featured on the PleinAir Podcast), 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.”

Painting outdoors in Virginia
Julia Lesnichy, “September Blooms,” oil, 20 x 20 in.
Painting outdoors in Virginia
Julia Lesnichy, “Sunset at Veritas Vineyard,” oil, 36 x 36 in.
Painting outdoors in Virginia
Julia Lesnichy, “Setting Sun at Cherry’s Grove,” pastel, 18 x 24 in.
Painting outdoors in Virginia
Julia Lesnichy, “Hydrangeas,” pastel, 24 x 18 in.
Painting outdoors in Virginia
Julia Lesnichy, “Crab Apples in Virginia,” oil, 12 x 16 in.

Lesnichy is a member of AIS, OPA, PSA, and several pastel societies. She has won 22 awards, both in oils and pastels, and she was featured in Plein Air Magazine (April/May 2018). An article about me was published in Plein air magazine, April/May issue of 2018. I am a member of AIS, Oil painters of America, PSA and several pastels societies. Lesnichy is represented by Cabell gallery, Lexington, VA; The Little gallery, Roanoke, VA; Lindor Arts, Roanoke, VA; and The C gallery, NC. She also teaches how to use pastels in her local art centers.

Where is your favorite place to paint? Share it with us in the comments below!

> Click here to subscribe to the free newsletter, Plein Air Today
> And click here to subscribe to PleinAir Magazine so you never miss an issue!


  1. No question, Niagara Falls is an amazing subject, three waterfalls, a mountain of mist, daily rainbows, acres of rapids, sheer walls of eroded stone and vibrant forests. All year round, every day, the river changes, the water levels vary and the weather has its surprises. Get a taste of the variety possible on my website.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here