Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world (second only to water) and a colossal 1.6 billion cups of coffee are drunk around the globe every day. There is no doubt it’s the globe’s favourite caffeinated beverage, but coffee is not only great to drink, it can be used for a host of other things too, even art!
Brewed coffee now features heavily in the art world, not just as an artist’s morning pick-me-up, but as a creative medium to produce exceptional pieces of fine art. Exquisite paintings and portraits are produced, and whilst artists vary in their techniques, the physical elements of their superb artworks remain the same, simply coffee and water.
Coffee has been used in art for washes for sketches and other shading for quite some time, however this has now developed into using solely coffee and water to produce finished pieces. Painting with coffee can be somewhat compared to the process of Renaissance artists, where they had to create their own pigments prior to even laying a brush stroke onto canvas. Coffee can be a challenge to paint with, however it possesses attributes that closely resemble acrylics and other characteristics of those found in watercolours. The blending of these two features gives the medium of coffee a unique status, conveying the rich dark tones we associate with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
We have selected some of our favourite paintings from different artists, contrasting in terms of technique yet paralleled in visual effect.
Michael Aaron Williams produced a series of portraits using coffee and 100 year-old antique ledger paper. When asked about painting with coffee, Michael had this to say, “Coffee is a great medium because it has a natural organic colour. It seems to just fit right in to the natural colours found in antique paper. It can be used very much like watercolours, except it’s less expensive and it smells great! You just have to brew it strong.” Below is a small selection of paintings from Michael’s collection.
Whilst Michael uses brushes to create his wonderful paintings, Malaysian artist, Hong Yi, adopts a different method entirely. Using only coffee stains from the bottom of a mug, she is able to replicate almost exactly the likeness of a photograph. The 26 year-old said this of painting with coffee “It was a tricky medium to use at first, and it took me a few tries to get it right. I diluted the coffee for the lighter shades and used very little water for the darker tones. Most people were surprised and intrigued by why I used such a medium and some people even told me to ‘go buy some paintbrushes instead,’ but I really want to challenge art as it is done conventionally.”
These artists and indeed their paintings, were simply ones which stood out to us, however there are now many artists using coffee as a medium.
If this has set you thinking about experimenting in painting with coffee or you now just fancy a double espresso, rijo42 coffee beans are available to buy online with next day delivery from rijo42.co.uk.