Spotlight on Artist Brenda Rowe & The Traditional Coffee House and Deli

Participants of Brenda Rowe’s painting workshop stand by their whimsy trees, painted at Rowe’s studio in Torbay.

Some people enjoy the act of creating art as a solitary affair. Whether sitting outside with paint and easel capturing the wild and rugged landscape, or trying to put into words or music the thoughts and emotions the scenery stirs within them, some folks prefer to go it alone, to contemplate the world and their place in it, or just to enjoy a few quiet hours to themselves. However, there is something to be said about the creative energy that’s produced during collaboration and the ideas that are born out of being in the company of friends or fellow artists.

Yesterday, a group of aspiring painters got the chance to experience that creativity and camaraderie during a Coffee & Canvas workshop at The Traditional Coffee House and Deli in Torbay. Led by teacher and Business & Arts NL artist member Brenda Rowe, each participant painted a coffee/tea cup following Rowe’s instruction, while allowing their creativity to burst through in their choice of background and colours. While each participant ended up with a coffee/tea cup at the end of the session, each painting, like a thumbprint, was as beautifully unique as those who took part.

“I had heard that the coffee shop was opening and I reached out to (owner) Tina Ricketts to see if she wanted to offer the Coffee & Canvas workshops. I have my own studio in Torbay and have been doing paint-along workshops for over 15 years now, and have many regulars. I wanted to help another small business owner here in Torbay by cross-advertising her new business with my own followers. And yes, more exposure is never a bad thing for me either…but my motive was to promote Tina’s business, to pay it forward,” says Rowe.

“I believe to make a stronger business community in my own town is a benefit to us all.”

The Traditional Coffee House and Deli may be new on the scene, having only opened in early May, but it has already made great strides in incorporating local arts into their business. In addition to the Coffee & Canvas workshops, the business has also had local musicians come in and perform (including duo Christina Smith and Jean Hewson, Dave Panting, and Ricketts’ own son, accomplished traditional musician and visual artist Allan Ricketts) and is looking into stocking some local Newfoundland literature for purchase.

Participants pose with their coffee/tea cup paintings at the Coffee & Canvas workshop on July 4, held at The Traditional Coffee House and Deli in Torbay.

“We’re trying to keep the arts involved. I was part of the Folk Arts Society, so I do have a link to the arts community,” Ricketts says.

While this is Ricketts’ first foray into the world of business, and incorporating arts workshops like Coffee & Canvas, Rowe hopes the two will join forces again in the fall. For artists who may want to approach local businesses about offering similar workshops, Rowe says one must be open to constructive criticism and enjoy teaching.

“I like to convey my love of art to my students and I can only do that if I’m enjoying teaching them and seeing how they learn and interpret the piece making their own painting, even though they may all be painting the same subject. Their interpretations are what gets me excited and that is how it helps me as an artist and instructor,” Rowe says.

For those business owners who may want to follow suit, Rowe says find an artist who has experience with, and a love of, teaching; have enough space to accommodate at least 10 students; and be willing to advertise and cross-promote with the artist.

Also, “You’d have to have an interest in the arts for one thing,” laughs Ricketts.

“And don’t expect your artists to do things for free,” she adds. “It’s an opportunity for the artist, and it’s an opportunity for me as well. It gets people in the door.”

For more information on Coffee & Canvas, or to register for next week’s workshop on July 11 (Whimsy Tree) click here.