Written by Shayda Windle | Photographs Provided by Sarah Florjancic
Loudoun County is home to some of the oldest buildings and historical sites in the United States, combining distinct architectural styles that span generations. These buildings not only represent some of the most significant periods in our country’s history; they tell a story about their unique time period.
From federal-style townhomes to bungalow-style homes, from a Gothic Revival Church to a Colonial Revival commercial building, Middleburg encompasses nearly every style of architecture depicted throughout our country’s history.
And it’s not just Middleburg where visitors can catch a glimpse of these historic buildings. Many towns in Northern Virginia have preserved these sites as national landmarks that are maintained through federally funded and non-profit organizations.
“Great Marsh Estate” by Sarah Florjancic.
Perhaps that’s why artists like Sarah Florjancic are determined to capture the beauty of this region’s architecture in a modern way – one in which memories can be stored as keepsakes for those who have experienced how special these landmarks are.
Florjancic is a watercolor artist with a focus on home portraits, historic buildings and architecture in Northern Virginia. She attended James Madison University (JMU), obtained an art degree, moved back to the region, and landed a job as an art teacher in Northern Virginia. During this time of quarantine, she said she “set up a home studio and began working on abstract acrylic paintings as well as commissioned home portraits as a way of continuing a creative practice alongside teaching.”
She developed a passion for creating unique keepsakes of home portraits for friends and family and receiving commissions for her artwork.
Custom Home Portraits by Sarah Florjancic.
“Even with an art degree, it took many hours of practice to find my artistic style,” she said. Once she found her style, she opened an Etsy shop to create custom architectural portraits for clients all over the country.
“I’ve always loved history, and the stories that come with it,” she said, “Architecture feels like the visible form of those stories. I think that’s why I have always been drawn to architecture in my art whether it is a home portrait, a wedding venue keepsake, or a historical site.”
Sarah Florjancic In the Studio
Florjancic has painted many historic buildings, including Rust Manor, White Hall Estate, and Great Marsh Estate, paying careful attention to the color and texture that have been cultured over centuries within the walls and exteriors of these buildings.
In addition to painting historical sites, she has an eye for custom home portraits. “I enjoy adding the special touches that make a home memorable,” she said, “Recently, I was commissioned to paint a childhood home as a gift for the client’s parents. The client wanted to include the crab apple tree that had been previously removed from the front yard. Of course, I was happy to include the tree into the final painting. It’s so special to be able to follow through with those requests to make the painting as memorable as possible!”
Left: “Wedding Venue” Right: “Our Saviors Way Lutheran Church” by Sarah Florjancic.
Combining her love for authenticity with a desire to please, she captures the sentimentality and spirit behind each home.
“It starts with a photo of the building and a conversation about what the client envisions in their custom portrait,” she said, “After getting the details from the client about color preference, the landscape, and any other specifics, I can start painting! I enjoy building each painting piece by piece, starting by blocking in large shapes and then adding the small details on top. It’s rewarding to see the full picture emerge out of the small details.”
“Rust Manor” in Process.
While she enjoys the work she’s already created, she’s nowhere near finished with her artistic journey. She has recently been exploring her family history and Slovenian descent.
“To connect more with the Slovenian side of my family, I’ve been working my way through painting the castles from that region of the world,” she said, “I’m hoping to visit in person one day!”
“White Hall Estate” by Sarah Florjancic.
She hopes to paint many more local sites, including downtown Leesburg, Oatlands Historic House and Gardens, and the Red Fox Inn.
View Florjancic’s work at sarahflorjancic.com or follow her on Instagram @sarahflorjancicart. ML
This article first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Middleburg Life.