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January newsletter

In winter painting the light in a landscape is a joy!


Farm house, oil on canvas, 11x14 in. Plein air


Before the storm, oil on canvas, 11x14 in. Plein air. Private collection.

For me as a color painter the gloomy winter weather In Virginia may seem boring and dull. But Virginia is a state where gloomy days are a rare thing. Most of the says are sunny, though sometimes really chilly. So, what an impressionist artist like me may find challenging in this time of the year? The light, of course. The elusive and fast changing sunlight, which makes everything glow.


Especially I like the afternoon warm light which is getting warmer to the end of the day and turning everything warm pink and orange. In the painting of a house farm above you see how the light makes the blue mountains slightly purple and the grass warm green, the sky warm light yellow. The sun disk is a bit cooler and lighter in value than the sky around it.


The main color relations here is the blue of the mountains, green/yellow of the grass and the blue/purple of the shaded part of the house. This high chroma colors attract attention to the main areas whereas other colors, of the distant trees, are neutral.


Note that in the painting "Before the storm" the colors are much cooler as the sun is higher above the horizon. The main colors realationship is between the warm green and cool blue of the clouds.


sunset_02_plein air

Sunset #1, oil on canvas, 11x14 in. Plein air.

What can be more challenging than painting a sunset? We all have very little time like may be 15 minutes. The key is to have you palette ready: Naples yellow, Cad yellow orange/Cad orange, Cad red light, Ultramarine blue/Blue black, Cerulean blue, Turquoise or very light Sky blue. You can find a lot of light value blues, pinks, yellows in the Charvin brand, which I use. I buy 150 ml tubes which you can also buy at JerrysArtarama.

I also use a wide bristle brush to spread the oil and then use a palette knife. The main thing is to see the contrast between the light sky above the mountains or trees and the slightly darker clouds. The sky is a mixture of Naples yellow and cad yellow medium and white. It is the lightest light. The orange or reddish clouds are a tad darker but very saturated. For this color I mix yellow orange or orange, cad red light and cad yellow med. Try not to use white or just a tad, as white makes the mixture cool and we need it warm.

sunset_11x14_Plein air

Sunset #2, oil on canvas, 11x14 in. Plein air.


Full moon, oil on board, 16x20 in. Plein air and studio

But if we paint a sunset e still can observe what is happening inn the sky after it, right? It is a perfect opportunity to do a nocturnal painting. In the painting "Full moon" I saw the moon on the bluish and pink sky just on the other side from the setting sun. There are just moments when the sky turns pink and deep cerulean blue at the horizon. The moon is the source of light and it is almost white with a tad of yellow. I captured the main colors of the sky in one session using wide brushes, then worked a bit on the trees and foreground in the studio, then returned to the place to check out the colors and values. In a night scape the main problem is values.

More works can be done in the studio!

Blooming field in Virginia_LinDor_30x40 in

Blooming field in Virginia in September, oil on canvas, 30x40 in, studio

In winter we all paint what we love the most - spring and summer blooms. I work with several galleries which like these spring and summers fields and large works. I was doing this oil painting from a large pastel painting which I did on the spot. It is one of the fields near the recreation area in Nelson county, Va, which is usually not mowed. But last season they did. I happened to paint it before it was totally cut down.

Blooming field in Virginia_16x20

Summer blooms, oil on canvas, 16x20 in. Plein air and studio.

Often I repaint or just add some details to the old unsold paintings. This painting was done like 6 years ago en plein air. I showed it in one gallery, didn't sell it and tried to figure out why. I kept the mountains the same and the path, but added more colors to the field, white and reddish patches, more contrast in the path and the shadows. I added a house as well. So I think I really made it look more striking and eye catching. I love this practice. I love to find mistakes and correct them. Sometimes, when you are not inspired, just take your old works and improve them. Post them in social media to see the feedback.

Working more in oil pastel

StIll life with a blue pot and onions

Still life with a blue pot and onions, oil pastel on Canson multiboard, 12x16 in.

I started painting with oil pastels in Russia in 2002. I travelled a lot and oil pastels seemed to be a great medium to paint sketches, like streets, houses and other places. I still have the oil pastels paintings I did in Paris, Avignon, Maldives, Croatia and Montenegro. I am really into oil pastels right now and do mostly indoor still life as I like to paint from life, not from photos. I am developing my won technique, which I started sharing on Instagram at


If you are interested you can take a look at

(9) Painting a still life with oil pastel. Part 1 - YouTube


You can find my channel at(9) Julia Lesnichy Artist - YouTube. I will be adding more videos with explanation, when I figure out how to do them better.



Still life with onions

Still life with onions

Oil Pastel workshop via Zoom, February 21, 1 p.m-4 p.m. Eastern time. $50 for a demo of an indoor still life and discussion of your works. 2-3 hours.

I am inviting you to the OIL PASTEL workshop via ZOOM on FEBRUARY 21, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. The cost is $50. I will show you how to apply oil pastels with an acrylic underpainting. You can paint with me. I will provide you the same reference photos of a still life. Or you can watch and paint your own still life after the demo. Please email me via if interested.

Oil pastels are not very hard to work with as soon as you understand the technique, the use of the turpentine to spread them or the acrylic/watercolor underpainting. they are very soft and smooth, saturated in colors. They never fade, never break, have no dust. They may start melting when it is too hot outside if you paint outside. they are easy to blend with fingers, brushes and special blenders. They may be framed under glass, which I use to do when I sold them to buyers. But after they are sprayed with a fixative they are dry to touch and may be not framed. I keep them in plastic acetate bags.