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Artist paints images of coffee with coffee
For island artist Wendra-Lynne, coffee is much more than a caffeinated drink. It is a sensory experience with an intoxicating aroma and comforting warmth. It is the heart of an industry that connects different communities and ties global cultures together. It is also a medium she sometimes uses for painting. Works of art from her series “Paintings Done in Coffee about Coffee” will be on display for a week at Café Luna.
The petite and energetic artist who goes by the name Wendra-Lynne says she’s been painting all her life, but it wasn’t until five years ago that she ventured into watercolors. After painting a sepia-toned watercolor of a coffee lily growing in Hawaii, her partner suggested she try painting coffee images with coffee. So Wendra-Lynne started to experiment. She mixed coffee grounds into the watercolors to make a paste, added brewed coffee to her watercolors and sprinkled coffee crystals on the paper for textural elements. The overall effect was the look of a hand-tinted, sepia photograph.
Wendra-Lynne studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. She also holds a bachelor of arts degree in art and literature from Antioch College in Seattle. Her education at the art center focused on advertising, which set Wendra-Lynne on a course to became a television art director and set designer for many years, including the first 10 that she lived on Vashon.
Though she moved to the island in 1997 — six months after the birth of her daughter — Wendra-Lynne regularly commuted back to Los Angeles for projects which took her to cities all over the globe, working on commercial sets with such media luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Meryl Streep, Christy Turlington, John Turturro, Tim McGraw and Josh Lucas.
Glamorous as that life sounds, Wendra-Lynne found her focus shifting toward fine art. In her home studio lined with paintings and with trays of watercolors and coffee grounds on her work table, Wendra-Lynne demonstrated her coffee painting technique and talked about her change of heart.
“I learned about the business of art through advertising,” she said, “but I never felt good about promoting the products. I thought, okay... I’ll do this work now and then do something I care about later, like the coffee industry. That coffee culture fascinates me — the support for women and fair trade and how it is all shifting. Initially there wasn’t much consciousness (in the business) but now there is.”
No longer commuting, Wendra-Lynne says she now feels more connected to the island community. Jumping into a writing role for the Church of Great Rain in the show’s final year, she developed a number of popular comedy sketches and has written three screenplays.
Whether writing or painting, the key for Wendra-Lynne is yoga, which she says unlocks her creativity.
“I teach and do yoga because that is the foundation of everything I do. It supports my creativity. I believe it is one of our basic needs — to be creative, to relax and to rejuvenate.”
She also teaches watercolor classes at her home, at private parties and at wineries. Last year she taught a workshop at Palouse Winery, and on June 30 and July 2, she will teach her watercolor class at Vine to Vashon.
“When I teach watercolors, I am not teaching people how to become artists; I am showing them how to do a creative meditation, how to let their minds relax and how to really get their creative needs met,” she said.
Wendra-Lynne’s “Paintings Done in Coffee about Coffee” will be on display at Café Luna beginning Monday, June 30 to Sunday, July 6. For more information, visit www.watercolorsbywendra.weebly.com.