January 31, 2009

Library Program: Paint with Coffee



In a week, I am leading a workshop on painting with coffee. This is part of our program series in preparation for our annual art contest. My colleague is going to do a program on street art. I saw the paint with coffee idea in the Collaborative Summer Reading Manual for this year's teen theme Express Yourself @ your library. I also found several good website by coffee artists, but no one really had a step by step video that I could find.

The best resource I found was an interview with an artist in which he describes his process. I also wasn't sure what type of coffee to use. Gathering supplies for this program is pretty simple. You need instant coffee, watercolor paper, brushes of different sizes, shallow bowls for mixing, and something to cover your work area with.


For my practice, I used Nescafe instant coffee. I used the same amount of coffee (about 2 T.) in 3 different containers. Then I added different amounts of water to each container. 3 T. for the darkest brown, 9 T. for the medium brown, and 15 T. for the lightest brown.

I put all my paints on the table, along with my different sizes of brushes in water. Also keep a paper towel handy for dabbing.

I had sketched my design in advance. I used the cover from Westerfeld's Extras as a guide. I figured it had a good quantity of highlight and shaded areas to practice the different tones of coffee. Since your picture will only be brown, it's a good idea to find a picture with a lot of contrasts.

The paper I used was regular construction paper, and the paint leaked right through. That is why I would recommend the actual watercolor paper. The artist interviewed suggested 140-200 lb. paper.

I just painted in layers. I used my lightest brown first to paint the face. Then I used the medium brown to add shading. If you have a highlight area, just don't paint that area, and it will look white. I then added the dark brown to the darkest sections. If you want something extra dark, you can wet some coffee grains with water and use your fingers to apply extra dark color and texture.

It was fun. This is a great chance to experiment. The painting smells super good, too. Don't worry, I won't lick. Enjoy the pictures. I can't wait to show this to my teens on Saturday.

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