Dipingere con il caffè

The art of coffee painting

Tea and coffee have been used for painting since ancient times: the Chinese used tea to create the backgrounds for their artworks, while both of these drinks were used also to give particular hues to fabrics and to give an aged effect to the marble of statues, as Gabriele d’Annunzio also did, to give a more classic look to the sculptures of his extravagant villa del Vittoriale. The art of painting with coffee has a story with roots which go back much further than you might think  and became widespread with the discovery of this fragrant drink. Let’s discover this technique together and which artists use it to create real masterpieces.

Coffee painting: what you will need

The technique of coffee painting is very simple and similar to that used for painting with watercolors, so it can be used by everyone, old and young. To start with, all you will need is some coffee made using a moka or espresso machine, sheets of paper for watercolor painting and brushes of various sizes. Keep a pencil handy too, you will need it to make a preparatory sketch for your painting. You can use the coffee from the moka and that from the espresso machine together to obtain lighter tones with the first and darker tones with the second, or make coffee several different times using the moka, each time changing the quantity of coffee powder used and thus the intensity of the drink.

By using media of various materials you can obtain many different effects; furthermore you can experiment with larger or finer brushes or combine classic lines with more abstract designs. In order to obtain a truly unique effect, go over the outlines of the drawing with a non-waterproof pen and then smudge the lines with water.

Coffee painting: five international artists

In the last few years, the use of natural pigments for painting has become a common practice among artists who want to create artworks with textures and tones different from the classic colors of oils or tempera. Coffee also features among the most used natural colors, with its range of nuances from hazelnut to dark brown, which can bring to life evocative monochromatic works. Coffee Art or Coffee Painting is now widespread throughout the world, from Thailand to the United States. We would like to introduce you to 5 of the most original exponents of this art movement, that it is really worth getting to know better.

Pornchai Lerthammasiri

As well as using watercolors and oil paints, the Thai artist Pornchai has become specialized in “coffee paintings” and paints open air landscapes exactly like the French impressionists. The continuous quest for new techniques led him to the coffee painting method, to try and recreate an antiqued effect using tea and coffee.

Hong Yi

Credits: Instagram @redhongyi

Known by her artistic name Red, Hong Yi is a young artist from Malaysia who has abandoned not only paints, but also brushes in favor of coffee: to create her works, she uses the bottom of an espresso coffee cup. And in this way she has created, for example, the portrait of the famous Malaysian entrepreneur, Francis Yeoh.

Andrew Saur e Angel Sarkela-Saur

These two American artists, also known as The Coffee Artists, have turned coffee art into a real medium. For the last ten years they have been immortalizing everyday objects from daily life for advertising, often belonging to the world of coffee and catering; many of their works represent cups and coffee beans, as well as objects from everyday life.

Dipingere con il caffè artisti
Credits: Instagram @coffeeart

Steven D. Mikel

Part artist and part computer scientist, Mikel lives in Florida and is the scientist of coffee art: after years of  research and experiments, he managed to develop a technique for coating and sealing his works with a protective layer which is even resistant to UV rays. In this way his works can be hung and preserved without the need for a layer of glass.

Karen Eland

Coffee painting
Credits: Instagram @coffeepainter

She has lived in Oklahoma and Oregon, nurturing her passion for painting since she was just 14 years old. One day, while she was painting in a café, she decided to combine art and espresso coffee in a single experience. Today she is famous for having added a touch of caffeine to the great masterpieces of the history of art, from Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam to Leonardo da Vinci’s Gioconda. Her work Heart Latte is the summation of Coffee Art: painting with coffee and painting on coffee.

Did you know about the art of coffee painting? Does it intrigue you, have you ever tried it?


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Il team redazionale del blog “Laboratorio dell’espresso” è composto dagli esperti di Filicori Zecchini: tutti professionisti che mettono a disposizione la loro competenza nei vari ambiti di specializzazione, dalla formazione, alla consulenza, alla creazione della migliore offerta per la vostra attività.

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