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King City artist mixes logic with creative abilities

Lynn Wolfe spent her career in information technology but has always been artistic too


by: BARBARA SHERMAN - GALACTIC ART - Lynn Wolfe, shown with three of her paintings, came up with the idea of King City Artists Guild members all following the same theme each month for their works that hang in the Clubhouse.Lynn Wolfe has definitely had an impact on the King City Artists Guild since becoming president last year.

"She has done a remarkable job with her idea of having a different theme show for each month on the walls of the Clubhouse," said Diane Tyhurst, former guild president. "The shows, ranging from 'Mountains' to 'Under the Sea' to 'Lights in the Sky,' have been incredible and appreciated by all the residents of King City.

"Lynn is a very good artist and has really blossomed during the last year as president. We all appreciate her skills and knowledge."

In addition, Wolfe is one of those rare people who equally uses both the "creative" right side and "logical" left side of her brain - she spent her career in the high-tech field and is also an accomplished artist, moving back and forth between the two arenas.

Born in Minnesota, Wolfe moved to Washington as a teenager, married at 19, graduated from college and moved to Alaska for 20 years. "We were in Anchorage, the 'civilized' part of the state," she said.

"I started out as an art major in college but thought that no one would hire an art teacher, so I switched to math and got my degree," Wolfe explained. "But even before I graduated, I got a job as a computer programmer and was in IT (information technology) for 37 years, although when I first started, it was called DP (data-processing)."

When the Wolfes decided to head south, they chose Portland over Seattle because it was warmer and drier and both their daughters were going to college in Oregon.

As for Wolfe's creative side, she started drawing at age 5 and first painted in high school. "I mostly drew birds," she said. "I loved white paper and pencil. They still had art classes in high school at that time, and that's why I initially decided to pursue art in college.

"But for years I had very little energy for art after raising kids and working in IT all day and staying up on all the latest developments - you have to learn and learn and learn - until I had the chance to retire at 57."

Wolfe first bought a house in Garden Home and then moved to Aloha, noting, "My big reason for staying in Portland was my daughter. But one moved to Seattle, and the other daughter was going to move to LA, so I moved to Seattle for one year and took art classes while I was there."

Wolfe's husband died in 2002, and after her daughter moved back here from Seattle, Wolfe did too, renting for a few years. "I've lived in all parts of the city on the west side," she said.

Three years ago Wolfe moved to King City, and "the first thing I did was look up the clubs," she said. "I saw the art club and the ceramics club and thought, Holy cow! I'm in heaven!"

Wolfe had painted in acrylic in the '80s and then switched to water color, "but two years ago, I switched back to acrylic," she said. "I have more control. Water color is unforgiving - it's a bear. If you make a mistake, you must start over."

Wolfe, who has sold a number of her paintings, became president of the King City Artists Guild last September.

"I kind of wanted to stir things up, and I did," she said. "We had a show at Concordia University and also one at Emeritus at Oswego Springs, and some members participated in a fundraiser for the Audubon Society of Portland by painting birds."

Guild members had been displaying their artwork on the walls of the Clubhouse living room for some time now, but Wolfe came up with the idea of painting around a theme each month.

"The way we do it is that everyone who wants to suggest an idea writes down a theme on a piece of paper, and we draw one out," she said. "But we usually look at the rest of them to see what other ideas were suggested. And we learned that one month's notice wasn't enough, so now we do it two months ahead.

"People were in ruts. They only did flowers or birds, so now they are branching out into different areas each month. The current exhibit is 'Lights in the Sky' (April), and next month (May) it is 'Children.' Some artists are afraid of painting people, so this will be a challenge. June will be a montage of all the art not hung previously.

"I don't like blank walls. For the summer we will leave up the works that the artists want left up, and if there are not enough, we will fill in with other ones."

For Wolfe personally, she has enjoying taking up painting again for the past 10 years.

"If it works, it works," she said. "If it doesn't work, you must forgive yourself."

She often uses photos in books for her resources, "but after I start a painting, it changes," she said. "I don't hold myself to actuality. I think my paintings are more architecture than art. If you want something to be exact, take a photo."

Wolfe also has tried to interject more socializing into the artists guild, which meets every Thursday from September through June, because painting can be solitary.

"It's quiet when we paint," she said, adding that the guild currently has 20 dues-paying members, with 16 coming regularly to paint. "Of those, six or seven are hardcore," she added.

"But we try to help each other and learn from each other. We're there to support each other and welcome anyone who has in interest in painting and camaraderie and friendship."

The guild doesn't hold formal meetings during the summer but has the multi-purpose room of the Clubhouse reserved every Thursday afternoon for members who want to come and work or catch up with whoever else is there.