Introduction: Coffee As a Painting Medium

I love to paint - especially with watercolors. Several years ago I had a painting class where we were given the objective of creating a painting without paint. Coffee came right to mind. I had seen all sorts of stains and antiqueing done with it and I loved the colors (and smell!).

I completed the project and did very well, I also learned a lot about how to use coffee as a medium. In this instructable I will be showing you how to paint with coffee. Our family cat will be the star of this coffee painting.

Step 1: Supplies

  • Paint brushes - you'll probably want a few. Wider brushes for broader strokes and fine tipped ones for detail
  • Water - a bowl of water for you to use to dilute coffee, clean your brush, etc
  • Coffee - for this project I will be using instant coffee
  • Paper - watercolor or wet/dry medium paper is what I would recommended
  • Small bowls or cups for mixing coffee paint
  • Additional supplies you might want to have: Napkins for dabbing excess coffee/cleaning drips or messes. Pens for adding details to your work.

    Step 2: Choosing a Coffee

    The coffee I find works best to paint with is instant. It's easily watered down and dissolves leaving no pesky grounds in your paint. You can also find it at any grocery store and it can be pretty cheap. Different brands have varying hues, from reddish to almost grey.

    Ground coffee also works, however it requires a few more steps. You would need to steep your grounds in hot water and filter them, or just make a cup straight from a machine and skip the cream and sugar!

    To start your instant coffee paint take your extra containers, water and coffee out. You may require a spoon or other device to help add water to your extra container. There are no exact measurements that I use when mixing coffee paint, but I do start with small amounts and always more water than coffee. I also tend to make a color pallette - for this painting I'll be mixing four different dilutions. My first was about 6 to 1 water to coffee, my second 5 to 1, third 4 to 1, and fourth was 3 to 1.

    Step 3: Painting

    Once you have all your paints mixed you will need your paper and brushes. I highly recommend using a watercolor or multi media paper. Other types will tear easily when wet and bubble and buckle. I generally start with a light wash - I take a wider brush in my lightest dilution and brush over the paper lightly, you don't want too much. You'll need to wait for this to dry for a few minutes before starting the next step.

    I started with an outline of our cat with one of my darker coffee paints. In between each step I wait for it dry a bit before moving on. Sometimes I dab it with a napkin too to help it dry, just remember that the napkin will pick up some of the paint too (which can make some really cool textures)

    I start to add detail and depth to every layer with my darker coffee solutions. Occasionally, to get a very dark color, I mix the instant coffee with a 1 to 1 water to coffee ratio. However, this sometimes ends up getting a little sticky!

    Step 4: Art!

    And now you have a coffee painting! Sometimes I add extra detail or outline my paintings with a fine tipped pen. I also have used white acrylic paint to help eyes stand out or for highlighting. I hope you enjoyed my first instructable! I would love to see the paintings you make with coffee paint!
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