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(Image: Lynne McFarland)

Artist of the Week: Lynne McFarland

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Lynne McFarland: I am a self-taught artist and started to experiment with painting in 1998. I work in watercolors, gouache, acrylic and oils.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I stop and sit at a new place — breathe in the ambiance, take the time to look around and really "see" the world around me. Then I sketch a draft on paper, perhaps take a photo for studio reference. I try to do an initial watercolor at the location to capture shadows, interconnecting objects, colors. Typically, my paintings then start with a base wash, then I go layer by layer, building up details and lighting.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
I used to travel extensively for my job (remember travel?) and realized when the workday was done I needed to remember the new city that I was visiting. So, I started painting when I travel. Each city I visited had something that is unique to it or has an interesting corner — this I try to capture. Sometimes it is a cathedral, sometimes, it just a cafe and treat on a sunlit table. It's whatever inspires me. I enjoy working en plein air (in public) because people and children come up and watch me paint. Children are fun because they are not shy about asking how to paint. I always carry an extra pad of paper and paint to let people join me and try their own hand in painting! Several people have emailed me years later, saying that they started painting on their own after trying their first attempt with me! What fun! You don't know you can do something unless you start trying.

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Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
I typically do landscapes. One day, I'll try to take an art class and learn how to do people! Meanwhile, it's all self-taught.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
That's a hard question. Each one of my paintings captures some visceral response to where I was. Perhaps my favorite is one I did of the [Cascade Range] here in Washington. We live in such a beautiful place!

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I am a cancer survivor. This experience left me with the lesson that each and every day is a blessing and should be appreciated — each day is a bonus. Now, I take the time to look around each day and appreciate the beauty around us. Then I try to capture that moment. Life goes too quickly otherwise.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
I haven't set up a website yet! I need to do this! My paintings are at my home, on my friend's walls and a few journal covers (for the Journal of Infectious Diseases). Otherwise, email me:

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I'm capturing the look my cat has after he has been in lockdown for 75 days (it's very scary). Also working on Distorted Venice painting, which is very fun!

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
Haha! Good one — with rum.