Laura McClintock is inspired by the Key Peninsula. She has found a way to make her life here while pursuing her passion for painting. Photo by Karina Whitmarsh, KP News

Artist Laura McClintock has inspired the Key Peninsula with more than art for over 18 years.  The owner of Close to Home Espresso in Key Center helps Peninsula residents start their day and keep it going.

McClintock became fascinated with painting in the third grade, inspired by a teacher. She continued painting through high school but after graduation her focus shifted.

In 1989 she accepted an opportunity to travel through Europe for two months with a friend and her friend’s aunt. During the trip, the aunt sketched scenes at every stop.  Moved by the beauty of the scenery and encouraged by the aunt, McClintock purchased watercolor supplies and a sketchbook at Grumbacher Art Supplies in Spain and began the path that eventually led to the Key Peninsula.

After Europe, McClintock ended up in Seattle where she worked as an upholsterer and found her way to creating custom interiors for yachts.  During that period she lived on a sailboat for two years. A friend owned property on the Peninsula and McClintock came here on weekends to help build a log home. She sailed to the area occasionally and anchored off shore from a charming house near the log home she was working on.

After two years living on the water she decided to return to land and considered a condominium in the city. On a visit to the Peninsula she visited the house she had admired for so long to offer the children a ride to church. While talking with the parents, she found the house would be up for sale soon but hadn’t been listed yet.  She says, “The family was so nice. They wanted someone who would love the house as much as they did.” She knew she belonged there and made the purchase.

Like many others, McClintock was concerned about work, a fairly rare commodity on the Peninsula in 1990. She didn’t want the commute to Seattle and decided, “Working away for a few months at a time and living here every other quarter was a better alternative.” McClintock took a position in the galley of a fishing trawler and divided her time between Alaska and the Key Peninsula for the next three years.

While home, she took art classes from Beverly Pedersen who eventually became her mentor. As time progressed McClintock frequently joined both Pedersen and Jeanne Crider to paint.

McClintock decided she wanted to spend be on the Peninsula full time and considered what she might do to end her “commute “ to Alaska. Something she missed about Seattle was the availability of a great cup of coffee. She thought there might be others who would appreciate a coffee shop, so 18 years ago she opened Close to Home Espresso.

The shop allowed her to spend time at home and more time painting. McClintock says, “Sharing time between work and art can be frustrating because sometimes, it feels like being a part time artist,” but she adds, “If you had to paint full time and were under the gun to produce, it could take the joy out of it.”

Although McClintock began working in watercolors she has expanded to several other media including acrylics, washes and dyes on different papers.  She creates collages as well.

An award winning artist, McClintock has shown on Gallery Row in Gig Harbor and participated in the Open Studio Tour for several years. Recently, the recession and commitment to the coffee shop have caused her to focus commitments a bit ‘closer to home’. She has a show at Key Fitness in Key Center and displays and sells some of her cards at her coffee shop.

McClintock is involved is several additional ventures. She has provided fundraising and support for people and organizations on the Peninsula through Close to Home Espresso and her art. Recently she joined with Tina Hansen to create Wandering Women, a collaboration of friends who share a love of coffee, travel and motorcycles. McClintock travels the country on a BMW motorcycle. She and Hansen created and sell a camping cookbook for motorcycle travelers that can be found on their website, www.wanderingwomen09.com.

If you’d like to contact Laura McClintock, you can reach her through the Wandering Women website or visit her at Close to Home Espresso in Key Center. Her work is on display and available at Key Fitness.

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