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John Coffey



Majoring in art at Concord College in the 1960s, I concentrated on drawing and oil painting.  I took a one semester class in watercolor painting only because it was required, and received the only “C” I ever made in a studio drawing or painting class, and that was a gift.  As far as I was concerned this was an impossible medium and for over twenty years I never once considered trying watercolors again.  Then in the late 1980s, after seeing some beautiful watercolors, I decided to teach myself to paint with watercolors.  To this day that one ill-fated class in watercolor at Concord has been my only formal instruction in the medium.


Since childhood one of my favorite means of artistic expression is drawing with an ordinary #2 lead pencil.  When my head finally made a connection between watercolor painting and drawing, I was finally able to achieve some degree of success with watercolors.  The emphasis of my college art painting was on abstract design, and I have found this training especially useful in my realistic style, as I tend to see my overall compositions in terms of abstract design.


On March 11, 2008, I suffered a major stroke which paralyzed the whole right side of my body; a rather unhandy occurrence for a right-handed artist to say the least.  Nearly one year to the day I completed my first painting since the stroke, Housetops Burford England which can be seen on the first page of my web site.  While I do not wish to slight in any way the work of many wonderful medical personnel who attended to me, the doctors, nurses, technicians, ambulance drivers and medivac helicopter team, physical therapists, I must say it is only by the grace of God that I am still here today, much less once again able to paint again, especially in such a short span of time.


For any degree of success I have attained as a watercolorist, the love and support of my family has been foundational.  First, the love of my life and wife of fifty-six years, the mother of our three sons, Gloria has been my principal supporter.  An accomplished pianist, organist, quilter and jewelry maker in her own right, without her encouragement most of my paintings never would have happened.  I am also grateful to my three sons, Russ, Mike and Ryan; my daughters-in-law, Esperanza and Tanya, and last but certainly not least my grandchildren, Izabelle, Joseph, Joaquin, Desiree, Destiny, D’Ella and David.  


I am a juried artist at Tamarack, the Best of West Virginia, a signature member of the West Virginia Watercolor Society and a working artist at the RiffRaff Arts Collective – Princeton, WV. 

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