Monday, August 8, 2011

Black Coffee...

"A morning without coffee is like sleep." ~ Author Unknown

Morning Mud, Bean Juice, Plasma, Go Go Juice, Cuppa, Java, Cup of Joe...Coffee has many colorful monikers. I personally use 'Java' most of the time, but do have my occasional 'Cup of Joe'. Whatever you want to call it, it is my main addiction these days. I dig the bitter drink. A lot. I like it strong and untainted. If I can see through it, I'll take a pass. The thicker, the better.

"In America you can buy bucket-sized cups of coffee in any flavour you like other than coffee flavour." ~ Author Unknown

Currently we appear to be deep into an age of designer coffees, Starbucks being the most widely spread. Lattes, Cappucinos, ice blendeds. 'Half caff, extra foam, low-fat,'? Would you like some coffee with your coffee? Honestly, I wonder...if one of those multi-layered beverages were put together sans coffee, would the drinker even notice. I find myself in a minority when it comes to coffee. One of (what seems to be) a dwindling number who actually drink coffee in it's naked form. Freshly brewed, hot, and rich. As I said, it's my one main addiction these days. I quit smoking awhile ago. Yes, I do crave a cig with my java from time to time, but those cravings are momentary. I enjoy my coffee all by its lonesome. Either in a diner (they usually have the best), or at home where I know it will be just the way I like it. Do I drink an entire pot? Absolutely. Especially when I'm writing. (I just started my first cup of a fresh pot a few minutes ago...)

Initially, I had started putting together a post about coffee that leaned in a completely different direction than the one this one is headed in. Why I hadn't discovered this coffee based interest earlier...well, it has peaked my creative interest, and I plan to give it a go myself. Coffee painting.

I was unable to find any definitive information on the history of coffee painting. It appears that the origins of its use as an artistic medium can be credited to the Thai people who are known for their use of tea in painting, and the Chinese who are said to have used it as a background tint in their paintings. I am kind of surprised that I didn't think of using it as a paint medium on my own. I consider myself to be somewhat experimental when it comes to my art. Having a tendency to make stuff up as I go along, using coffee as a tint or otherwise is right up my alley.

There are several coffee artists out there on the 'World Wide Web'. Some are dabblers, and some are more proficient. There are some really great and varied examples of coffee artwork above. I not only find them impressive, but inspiring. (Just inserting a note here: I did try to locate artist info on all of the pieces I have included in my blog post. If an un-credited artist happens to see my blog, I have included your work mearly as example/reference. I do not claim to own the posted art.) The artists of the paintings in the upper row are as follows: the one on your left is by Katie of the site 'Caricatures By Katie', and the ones center and to the right are by 'Alex n' Radish'. On the lower row, the painting to the right is called 'Teufel Cafe' and is by artist Ryan Lewis. I couldn't locate the artists for the painting on the left, but the one in the center brings me to this next artist.

Karen Eland is a professional coffee artist who hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma. A childhood portrait class, and a love of coffee inspired her to use espresso as a painting medium. All of the above paintings are by Karen, and you can see more at her official web site. She has definitely mastered the layering art necessary to create the rich depths of coffee painting. Her renderings of classic paintings are quite good, and I appreciate her special alterations/additions.

The theme of 'Coffee' also plays into other forms of art like those pictured above. Nail Art, or sculpture - whether it's a bacon coffee cup, or a lotus fashioned from a paper Starbuck's cup (Artist: Alfred Ng) . I love those coffee sack chairs, but alas they are apparently only available to residents of Ireland. The abstract glass sculpture of the two kissing faces forming out of two cups of spilled coffee...really neat (Artist: Tsang Cheung Shing). The last piece of the above collection is a lit wall art structure constructed of coffee filters. Such creativity.

There is a more common group of coffee artists out there. Baristas. ('Coffee servers' to those unfamiliar with the term.) A lot of people who frequent trendy coffee houses probably get lattes topped with this particular art form on a regular basis and don't really notice. Whether it's flowers, swans, animal faces, or abstract swirls, coffee house baristas are creating works of art with every order. The video below shows some basic guide lines for topping a latte with flowers.

Not that hard, really. There are more 'How To' videos available on the net, but I think it looks pretty simple to find ones own way with designs. If I worked in a coffee house, I would definitely be playing around with some designs of my own.

In the next day or so I plan on picking up some water color paper, and a couple of soft brushes. I want to do some serious experimenting with coffee, probably starting with some nature images around the marsh. I've always wanted to master a style that fits my own. As an artist, I prefer to create something from within myself rather than mirrorring someone elses work. To each his own, I suppose...

But for the moment, I'm going to enjoy another cup of coffee that is just how Agent Cooper would like it..."black as midnight on a moonless night".


  1. Great coffee post - though I really wanted to comment on Monday's rain piece, which is so atmospheric - in both senses, I guess. But a coffee bean photo covers the comments place!

    Never mind. I know the Frost poem but not the Parker. Love that phrase "sister to the rain" - could be a nice title for a novel.

    Your encouraging comments on my blog much appreciated. Do hope you like the book.

  2. Huh...that's odd about the coffee picture covering the comments. It doesn't do that on my computer. Hmm...strange.

    "Sister to the rain" would be a great title for a novel.