Article: “Life on Canvas”

Impressionist works by Sonoma County Artist Justina Selinger are on display at Circle Gallery
By Pam Huwig for the Argus-Courier

If you’re looking for run-of-the-mill swill to hang on the walls throughout your house, try a bargain department store. If you’re looking for genuine art, stop by the Circle Gallery in Petaluma and engage in the visual feast of Justina Selinger’s impressionistic paintings.

Born and raised in Germany, Selinger learned traditional methods of painting with oil medium. “I just wasn’t satisfied with that, you know?” says Selinger. “I wanted more; I felt something was missing from my work.”

Well, if anything was ever missing from her work, she’s long since worked it out. Inspired by French and American impressionists, and taken with the work of Vincent van Gogh, Selinger has come into her own with a style indicative of raw talent.

“I focus on the effect of light on color,” she says. “This is something that I really got a grasp on while doing work at the School of Light and Color in California and with Lois Griffel at the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts.”

Selinger may have dabbled in various occupations over the years, but it’s painting that she says is her lifeline.

“I have a background in decorating, and I was a hairdresser at one time, but it was art that I always loved,” she says affectionately. “I may not have been painting my whole life, but I think I’ve painted with my eyes all my life.

“When I first started I thought I couldn’t draw. And then one time, I had a postcard with drawings of animals on it from my vet, and I have a girlfriend who is very long-winded on the phone. Once while I was talking to her I was doodling. And when I was done – when she was done – I had totally copied that card. I was bowled over. I was like a little kid when my husband came home; I was running around saying ‘Look, look what I’ve drawn.’

He told me to take some drawing classes. And I asked him if he were crazy, that there were probably people at the JC who can really draw. But he talked me into it, and that’s where I got started. That led to painting. That was 12 years ago.”

Morning Walk II by Justina Selinger

Morning Walk II, 8×10 by Justina Selinger

Her paintings are serene and spilling over with energy – with landscape beauties such as bay Area fog rolling it’s way to freedom and quaint country shots that reminisce about the calm that is so tough to find these days.

“Painting makes me go into another world. When I paint, I forget everything around me; the house could probably burn down. It’s almost like getting hungry – when I’m away from it, I crave it and need it,” she says.

“I always go through a stage when I first start painting something that I question whether it’s going to all come together or not. I get stuck, so I put it away for a couple of days. And then it seems so clear and simple. I can’t paint if it feels like a job because I go to my studio every day, even if I’m just messing around in there.”

Luckily, Selinger says she has no intention of allowing her painting to fall by the wayside.

“I just want to keep painting. I’m dying to go to Greece. The light there is supposed to be just fabulous. I allow my husband to come along on trips like these if he promises to carry the easel,” she laughs. “I may do a book in the future, but right now I’m focusing on getting my web site updated and perhaps add some kind of (streaming video) clips of me painting.

“The Internet is a wonderful tool – millions of people go online – except me. I don’t even know how to turn the damn thing on. My husband got me this wonderful computer, and it’s sitting over there with something hanging over it _ just staring at me (laughs). But I am not a computer person at all so I’ll have to wait until I find someone who can help me with that.”

Comments Are Closed