Editor’s Pick: Artist Profiles
Like a picture within a picture, the sight of plein air artists capturing iconic scenes found across the region are an intriguing encounter on their own. Many artists who paint from life, as it completely surrounds and envelops them, are not socially focused outward, but rather intently studying the scene before them as they interpret it in their own style. Lyn Coffey, a prolific plein air painter is unique in that she highly enjoys the interactions she encounters when painting from life. “When I go out and plein air paint, I am always learning; about the place and about the people,” Coffey says. “A lot of people approach me and I think sometimes I’m so focused they leave me alone, but I’m always happy to chat. People are curious, especially little kids, they’re so sweet and they will always tell you what they think of the artwork. Generally, people are fascinated by the process. The classic reaction is always, ‘I wish I could do that.’ And my response is always, ‘Well, you can actually.’”
The conviction that one can learn something that seems to be wholly rooted in unique natural ability is what has encouraged Coffey to share her talents through teaching. “I’m continuously learning from other artists,” she shares. “I know someone just starting to learn could definitely benefit from the encouragement and support. It doesn’t matter what it turns out like, it’s part of the process and being in that moment is really special.”
Coffey is originally from Connecticut, and from an early age knew that art was the only thing she wanted to do. An early acceptance to Parsons School of Design resulted in being the only school where she applied. A degree in Communication Design and a career in art direction and graphic design gave her the freedom to work from a variety of visually and creatively desirable communities throughout the country. Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Aspen, Colorado; and most recently San Francisco, California provided creative inspiration throughout her life. Now, moving to Cotuit, where her parents decided to retire, Coffey and her mother, Marian Waldron Nicastro, a lifelong artist, create together in events like Cotuit’s annual “Brush Off” event, a plein air fundraiser for The Cahoon Museum.
Coffey’s treatment of subjects in a classic realism style renders an awe-inspiring understanding of light and shadow. A recent 9-by-12-inch painting of a green fishing trawler is a great example of how she can capture a moment and make it last forever. “I was in Chatham and spent hours doing pencil sketches and taking photos. Then went back to the studio and worked on the fishing boat, capturing the light and really working with the shadows which makes the light shine,” she recalls. The result is a captivating scene where her understanding of light and shadow transform a rugged working vessel into a romantic iconic image that will command the attention of everyone entering the space where it will ultimately reside.
Coffey is thrilled to call Cape Cod home now, “The atmosphere on the Cape is so fantastic for artists, it is very supportive,” she states. “Part of the reason for my move here is to become a full time artist, through teaching and sharing. I think that ‘share and exchange’ makes you a better artist, and every artist has their own unique style, so it isn’t about painting in a certain way, but more about exposure to different ideas.”
To learn more about Lyn Coffey, visit lyncoffey.com.
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