Using paint as her weapon of choice, Yana Litus drew inspiration from her own childhood memories to win an artistic battle.
Through her paintings, she wanted to help Ukrainians.
“Now is a difficult time… for all Ukrainians, we [are] misses our Ukraine, our native land.”
“That’s what I wanted, to give some kindness and warmth.”
Litus took part in an art battle event called “Art Battle for Ukraine” aimed at raising funds for the country.
The battle is a sports competition where artists compete. They have 20 or 30 minutes to create a live painting, in real time, in front of an audience. Once they’ve finished painting, members of the public can vote for their favorite using an app on their phone. Whoever completes all rounds wins the competition.
Litus had wanted to compete for years but was always too intimidated to do so. After the Russian invasion, she thought of her own family still living in Ukraine and thought she would at least try to help raise funds.
And then she made it all the way to the top.
“I didn’t know if I could do it or not, so it was like a competition for me too,” Litus said.
Litus felt like she was entering the zone for her first painting. She felt like she was in a studio, not a room with hundreds of people around her.
“I heard no music, no people, no cameras around my head,” she said. “When you start making art, you don’t hear anything around you.”
Since the theme was a battle for Ukraine, she wanted to paint something that reflected her childhood memories, Litus said.
She painted a landscape of an open field in a village in Ukraine where she spent her summers with her grandmother and great-grandmother.
She said walking in an open field in Ukraine helped energize her, and she painted it in her landscape.
When people look at it, they can tell it’s from Ukraine, Litus said.
“It can be anywhere in Ukraine…it’s close to all Ukrainians. That’s what I meant by my artwork,” she said.
“Anyone who has lived in Ukraine or was born there, or has family, can see something close to them in the painting.”
To her surprise, the landscape painting won and she was able to advance to the final round of the competition.
For her second painting, she added her grandmother’s house to the landscape.
“It was very close to my soul and to me,” she said.
She was only five years old when she spent her summers there. She spent time there in a garden and played with animals. She doesn’t have many memories of that time, but remembers how kind her grandmothers were to her.
Litus’ grandmother still lives in Ukraine today. His mother and stepfather also live there. Family from her husband’s side of her family is also there.
She said she was happy to be able to attend the event and help raise money for war relief efforts. His paintings were sold in a silent auction, part of the art battle event. In total, the event raised over $45,000 for war relief efforts.