Lifestyle

Coupeville barn converted into state-of-the-art studio

Mike and Megan Wise and daughter Ella in front of their Coupeville art studio that is part of the Whidbey Working Artists Studio Tour March 7-9. - Ron Newberry
Mike and Megan Wise and daughter Ella in front of their Coupeville art studio that is part of the Whidbey Working Artists Studio Tour March 7-9.
— image credit: Ron Newberry

Five years ago, Megan Wise stared at a neglected red barn in her backyard and saw an eyesore.

Her husband Mike Wise saw an opportunity.

Normally inspired to paint barns, Mike Wise decided to tear this one apart.

The result was a spectacular transformation that turned the barn into one of the showcase art studios featured on the Whidbey Working Artists Studio Tour this weekend.

Walk through two huge glass entry doors and the Wise Studio in Coupeville reveals a plush interior that features  9-foot ceilings and massive fir beams above a pool table that rests on a stained concrete floor.

The barn’s exterior is covered with cedar shingles straight from a cedar mill in Forks.

Wise did most of the work himself, including electrical and plumbing, to provide a place for their artistic family to work, play and display their art.

Mike is a contemporary impressionist oil painter of still life and landscape subjects. Many of his works are displayed in the studio lit by track lighting.

Megan makes jewelry from vintage pieces. Her 9-year-old daughter Ella also has taken up jewelry making.

“I think it’s awesome,” Ella said of their family pastime.

“All three of us spend time together,” Megan said. “It’s a family thing for us.”

“Creating things rather than watching people do things is what I prefer,” Mike said.

Mike, once a stockbroker in downtown Seattle, has been a full-time painter for eight years on Whidbey Island, noticing better results the more time he’s been able to put into his craft.

His wife works as a commercial loan officer for Whidbey Island Bank and makes jewelry when she can.

“Maybe that’s what drew us together,” Mike said. “I didn’t know she had interest in doing this when I met her.”

The Wise’s studio on the outskirts of Coupeville is one of 17 stops on a tour that gives the public a peek into the lives of Whidbey’s working artists.

The free self-guided studio tour stretches from Oak Harbor to Freeland and runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 7-9 (for map, see www.whidbeyworkingartists.com).

The Wise Studio (www.mikewisestudio.com) is located at 560 Hill Valley Drive.

Some of Wise’s paintings are on display at a gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas and have been featured in national shows.

He’s working to build a larger collection of paintings and has created the sort of studio to make that easier.

He scans the island and beyond to look for inspirations. He’ll take a photograph of a scene that catches his attention then displays it on a flatscreen monitor attached to a wall behind an easel.

Then, he goes to work, painting boats, landscapes, barns and other scenes inside an old converted barn that not long ago had dirt floors, livestock stalls and a heap of discarded items laying around.

“It probably would have just been easier to tear it down,” Mike said.

 

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