Article: “Justina Selinger – Artist Profile”

Excitement overwhelms me whenever I pull past a large sign announcing the studio of an artist into a Sonoma County enclave of flowers, meadow and majestic trees. While many such places exist in our county, the total effect is perfectly captured at the gallery and studio of Justina Selinger.

Lemons in a Blue Bowl, still life oil painting by Justina Selinger

Lemons in a Blue Bowl
still life oil painting by Justina Selinger

I met Justina on one of those dreary March days that fortunately did not have too much rain. Rain or not, Justina’s paintings fill the room with light, color and joy. Bright red barns with shadows of brilliant blue are prominent features in many of her paintings. Fields are filled with purples, greens and California golds. The river sparkles with a life that is seldom captured. Justina demonstrates that she observes the detail of the sights around her and knows how to relate them to her audience. This is an interview that I would love to repeat – over and over.

Occidental locals have known Justina’s creative talents for many years. Her antique shop was known and loved. She and her husband established Heart’s Desire Inn (the name drawn from the hearts in the chimney brickwork) which is now The Inn at Occidental. While these projects were done with gusto, the passion of creation was directed to the Selinger’s home on Coleman Valley Road. It was at home during a prolonged telephone conversation that Justina sketched a cat and a dog. She had always loved art and wanted to paint but she believed that this desire would never be fulfilled because she could not draw.

Justina in her painting studio, with friends.

Justina in her painting studio, with friends.

Once that first accidental drawing was evidence of her abilities, Justina began her quest to paint. She started with drawing and painting classes at Santa Rosa Junior College – then moved on to more individualized instruction.

She began with the Old Masters and embraced Impressionism – always focusing on the play of light over ordinary objects. She studied with Lois Griffel at the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She began her own path.

Taking a bold direction and moving forward is nothing new to Justina. Going from selling antiques and operating a bed and breakfast to becoming a full-time artist is minor to other life changes. Justina was born and raised in West Germany. Her mother dreamed of coming to America and instilled the love of cowboys and Indians into her two young daughters.

When the time came to leave home, Justina immigrated to New York. There were no cowboys and Indians but her American life was not a disappointment. Her sister also relocated to America. Her mother now enjoys extended visits with her daughters in their adopted homeland.

Justina has become an American through and through. She travels to Europe as a tourist desiring a glimpse into a foreign country not as a trip home. These visits are wonderfully depicted in some of Justina’s paintings – including following the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh from Amsterdam to Paris to Provence, ending in Auvers-sur-Oise. The light and colors of Justina’s paintings show a deep love and respect for the genius of Van Gogh whether the scenes are of Europe or Sonoma County.

Justina is a successful artist by all definitions. Her work is available through various domestic galleries including the California Collector’s Gallery in Kentfield, California, the Z Forrest Galley in Tubac, Arizona and at the Garofolo and Osborne Gallery in Avon, Connecticut. Admirers have visited her studio after seeing her work on display at Embassy Circle Inn, a bed and breakfast in Washington, D.C. But locals have no need to travel to faraway places to view her art as Justina opens her studio each fall by participating in Sonoma County Artrails and has done so since 1998. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to see Justina’s paintings in her personal environment.

Visit her website at – subtitled “The light is the subject.”

Whatever the subject material, the star of each painting is the light.

For More Information:

About Justina
Article: Painter Manifests through Positivity

Article: Artwork at Embassy Circle Guest House
Printed Postcard Series

"Red Barn" by Justina Selinger

“Red Barn” by Justina Selinger

Originally published April 7, 2011
My Wine Country Village – Living the Good Life in Sonoma County 

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