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Painting with Coffee – The Basics

I love the idea of painting with coffee, but to be honest, I mostly use coffee paint for background papers. That being said, you can easily paint images and landscapes using coffee by following the same principles of watercolor painting.


To create your own coffee stained paintings and backgrounds, you will need:
  • 5 Scoops of ground coffee
  • 8 C water
  • Instant coffee grounds, as needed
  • 1 Tbsp of your favorite spice (i.e. cinnamon or allspice)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tbsp Iodized salt
  • Coffee maker
  • Blow dryer
  • Conventional oven
  • Plastic tub
  • Paper (watercolor paper, scrapbook paper, copy paper)
  • Cellulose sponge
  • Paintbrush
  • Krylon Preserve It Aerosol Spray
  • Liquitex Professional Soluvar Matte Varnish
  • Optional: Various sized cups, stamps, and shapes
  • Optional: Food coloring and/or watercolor paints for adding more colors to your paintings
How to create coffee stained background papers:
  1. Brew a strong batch of coffee in your traditional coffee maker.
  2. Allow coffee to cool to room temperature.
  3. Pour cooled coffee into a tub big enough to lay your papers down flat.
  4. Soak both sides of paper for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  5. Place your papers on a flat, metal cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minute or until dry.
  7. Allow paper to cool.
  8. Flatten paper between two heavy books.
  9. Use coffee stained paper in your art projects.
How to create darker background papers:
  • Follow steps 1 through 6 above, allow to cool, and then repeat those steps until you reach the desired darkness.
  • Add instant coffee grounds to your cooled coffee, stirring until you reach the desired darkness, then follow steps 1 through 7, above.
How to create lighter background papers:
  • Use less coffee when brewing your first batch of coffee. The more water you use, the lighter the coffee stains will appear.
How to scent your coffee stained backgrounds:
  • Place a tablespoon of your favorite spice in the filter with your coffee grounds and brew as normal. If you’d like a stronger scent, just add another tablespoon.

How to add marks:
  • Fold your paper, like origami, soak in coffee, unfold, lay flat, and dry.
  • Dip various cups into coffee, then place on dry paper. Leave cups on the paper until the coffee has dried and stained the paper.
  • Place your paintbrush into the coffee, then drip it over your paper and allow to dry. Repeat until you are satisfied with your drips.
  • Dip stamps into coffee, then stamp your paper. You can leave the stamp on the paper until the coffee has dried and stained the paper, or you can remove the stamp, dry the paper with a blow dryer, then re-stamp the area until you reach the desired depth of color.

How to create a burned look:
  • Slice a lemon in half and then rub the lemon around the edges of your coffee stained paper.
  • Use a heat gun (or blow dry on high heat) to dry the edges of the paper.
How to create texture with salt:
  • While the paper is wet, sprinkle salt over the area you would like to see more texture.
  • Allow the paper to dry completely, then gently wipe the salt away with a sponge. Whatever you do, avoid using your hands to rub away the salt. Depending on how many pages you create, you could be rubbing away the first layer of your skin along with the salt, and let me tell you, that hurts!
How to paint with coffee:
  1. Create three cups of cold coffee: light, medium, and dark.
  2. Lightly sketch your design with a pencil.
  3. Wet your watercolor paper with clean water.
  4. Using a watercolor paintbrush, paint your first layer.
  5. Allow the first layer of coffee to dry before you continue to paint the rest of your design. You can speed the drying process with a blower dryer, on low heat.
  6. Work in layers, building up color as you paint. Make sure you allow your layers to dry or you could ruin what you’ve worked so hard to create.
  7. Spray with archival mist (i.e. Krylon Preserve It).
  8. Once completely dried, place your paper between two heavy books to flatten.
  9. To keep the coffee stained painting from fading, spray with a thin layer of archival varnish (i.e. Liquitex Professional Soluvar Matte Varnish).

Copyright, Alyice Edrich. www.CreativeAlyice.com / www.AlyiceEdrich.com

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