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A person holds out an open paint-filled folio palette with a bike and storefront in the background that reads "Herkimer Coffee: Coffee Roasting Co. Est. 2003."

Local Café Outing: A Date with Myself and My Palette

An artist stands with a paintbrush between her fingers, gazing off screen, with a wall full of watercolor paintings taped to the wall behind her.

Sophia Trinh


Community | May 03, 2023

A person holds out an open paint-filled folio palette and a travel brush with a bike and helmet in the background.
An artist leans on bike handlebars and smiles softly at the camera in a brightly-lit room, holding an open folio palette filled with paints.
All set and ready for my bike ride to Herkimer’s on Dexter Ave.

People often ask me how I create both time and physical space in my busy life to paint.

The first part of that question is easy for me to answer because I prioritize painting in my life as a form of therapy, a form of internal catharsis. Even if it’s an hour a week, I make time to sit and play with colors.

The second part of that question is more difficult to answer because I don’t know what physical space everyone is limited to or works with. That being said, I find space by traveling with watercolors because, as supplies go, they are an easy medium to pack up and take to all your favorite places.

A cement wall with bold, black lettering in all caps reading "Herkimer Coffee" with a little black star.
The exterior of an urban café with big windows and orb-like lights inside.
You can find Herkimer Coffee in four locations throughout Seattle: Ravenna, Phinney Ridge, Dexter, and 4th & Blanchard.

For example, I took a solo bike ride to Herkimer Coffee in Seattle last month to do a little painting.

What I love about painting in cafés is:

  1. I get to people-watch.
  2. It forces me outside my comfort zone because I am exposed to anyone watching my creative process, and that can feel vulnerable.
  3. The tables are big, so I can spread out my materials.
  4. They have water there for you to use, so you don’t have to bring your own.
  5. You never know who you will meet and spark up a conversation about creativity!
  6. I am taking myself out on a creative date and carving out space for me-time.
A café tabletop covered in sketching supplies, a partially-drawn mountain in a sketchbook, and a cappuccino.
A vibrant mountain sketch with a rocky, grey beach in the background.
Beginning with a circle and getting warmed up with my paints.

I love my Art Toolkit because it makes traveling easy with my supplies. I highly recommend getting a starter kit if you have been wanting to play and move around the city with it!

Painting in cafés is how I began building relationships with the community and also sparked the conversation of hanging my artwork up on the walls. I first shared my artwork at Zoka in 2016 and have enjoyed similar opportunities ever since. If you’re in Seattle in May, swing by Arosa Cafe to see my latest work!

A vibrant mountain sketch with metallic gold flowers and black ink details lays on a tabletop with a yellow-orange flower.
Adding details to my painting.
An artist leans on bike handlebars wearing a helmet and smiling broadly in a brightly-lit room, holding an open folio palette filled with paints and a mountain painting.
Getting back from Herkimer Coffee.

I look forward to seeing more people painting out and about as the weather gets warmer in Seattle, and please stop and say hello if you ever see me painting in a café near you. I hope these photos inspire you to paint from your local coffee shops and seek adventure outside your home!

Art Toolkit Ambassador
Sophia Trinh

Check out more of Sophia’s work on her website and on Instagram.