Aspen forests, rock formations, canyons, waterfalls—any frequenter of Summit County relishes these hallmarks of our mountain landscape. For local artist Lelija Roy, these natural spaces serve as not only the stunning setting for an active lifestyle but also a key inspiration behind her work.
In her impressionistic paintings, Roy aims to transmit the tactile sense she gets when spending time in these landscapes. The part-time Breckenridge resident (she splits her time between here and Denver) says that the color and texture in her mixed-media works reflect the natural beauty of Colorado, which she hopes her paintings inspire people to enjoy and protect.
“It’s a playful thing to see water on rock,” she says, reverentially. “I have a deep appreciation for the erosion factor, the way water and wind change the landscape.”
Roy’s choice to work with mixed media was an evolutionary process. She initially painted in oils and then watercolors, but she found that neither gave her work the color intensity she desired. Acrylic paints applied to canvas were promising, but she didn’t really become satisfied until she began introducing different papers and objects such as glass beads into her works. “Colors react to each type of paper, each material differently,” Roy explains. “I don’t use printed manufactured papers because there is no quality control; the colors could fade over time.” She cites the yellowing newsprint used in cubist collages from the early 1900s as an example.
The artist has even begun learning how to make paper so that her materials better suit her needs. Roy typically uses varying weights and opacities of paper, building layers ⅛- to ¼-inch thick, to lend varying degrees of texture. And she extends her paintings to include the sides of the canvas, adding depth for those who are viewing the works as they walk by them, whether on display at Art on a Whim in Breckenridge or at special events like the Benefit for the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign this past December or Wild About Colorado, coming up July 19–21.
For this Connecticut native, it’s a distinct pleasure that her work allows her to give back to her adopted home. “I’ve lived here for eight years,” Roy says, “and I’m definitely staying!”