It is safe to say that artist Lelija Roy is obsessed with aspens. After moving to Colorado 10 years ago, she quickly developed a deep affinity for the tree. An aspen grove’s striking white and black trunks, shimmering textures and changing leaf colors combine to form the heart of Lelija’s richly textured landscapes. Add in some of the Rocky Mountains’ most iconic peaks, and you have an artist whose skilled hands perfectly capture the wonder of the High Country.
This weekend, the Art on a Whim gallery is filled with Lelija’s wondrous aspen groves and silky summits; paintings depicting every season populate the gallery. Lelija’s newest collection provides viewers with a glimpse into each part of the year in the High Country. In the midst of an epic snow year, her winter scenes sparkle with metallic and iridescent paints. Her fall scenes show Summit County when the leaves are golden, giving those not lucky enough to visit in September or October a peek into the golden canopies that cover our forests. Summer and spring pieces warm up the space with a splash of vibrant color and the deep textures for which Lelija has received worldwide acclaim.
“What intrigues me about aspens is that when you are in a grove, you are in the middle of a single organism,” Lelija said. “Each grove is a sisterhood unto itself.”
Aspens are unique trees. Every aspen grove is indeed composed of a single, connected organism. The oldest and heaviest organism on Earth is said to be an aspen grove. Aspen forests thrive at elevations above 5,000 feet, making them a staple of Colorado’s mountain towns. Given such a unique tree, it takes a unique approach to truly capture its beauty.
Lelija’s work is composed of multiple layers, much like one would find while walking through the forest. She fuses layer upon layer of painted rice papers, silk, lace and other fabrics with acrylic paints, pastels, ink and more to create her dreamy aspen groves. Lelija’s trees are made from individual strands of hand-painted rice paper. This provides viewers with the feeling of discovering unique trees amongst the whole of the grove. Her mountains and rocks are often composed of silk and lace, softening each piece into a serene and peaceful scene. Acrylic paints are combined with color-shifting metallic and iridescent paints to capture the ever-changing light one witnesses while observing an aspen grove.
Highlights of her current show include “Winter Waterfall,” a purple and blue depiction of an ice-covered Sawmill Creek running down the side of Peak 8 in Breckenridge. “By the Light of the Moon” presents a mountainous landscape on which the moonlight shimmers on a fresh layer of snow and the sky changes from purple to black as viewers move past the piece. The show stopper is the largest piece Lelija has created to date, a 5 foot tall by 12 foot wide piece showing the Grand Tetons in all of their glory, titled “Teton Majesty.”
The end result of Lelija’s efforts has found her work collected throughout the world. She invites curious art lovers to watch her paint this weekend at Art on a Whim, take in her creativity and “step into the next part of what the wilderness will offer you.”