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Materials for Painting with Coffee  & Helpful Techniques 

What you need to get started painting with coffee. It looks like watercolor but there is something uniquely different. Refer to the tutorial included on this website to start painting with coffee right away.  Coffee Painting Tutorial.  Or, even better, I encourage people to sign up for a  Coffee Painting Workshops.

Basic Materials needed for painting with coffee

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Watercolor paper
Brushes
Pencil ✏️ 
Espresso Coffee
Clean Water
Paper towels
Hairdryer

 

 

Helpful Techniques for painting with coffee

A wide range of values is available when painting with coffee. The addition of pencil lead extends the color range.

Good practices to keep in mind for success

 • Move coffee around to create sharp edges and lighten areas to show depth
 • Clean water at all times
 •  Keep Paper Towels near by
• Let each layer dry completely
 • Keep pencil outlines light so they can be erased after the base shape has been painted.

 

Artists have been painting with coffee for many years. This is only a short list of coffee painter's websites.

Detailed information for Materials needed to paint with coffee.

•  Black Coffee or Expresso Coffee  Your morning coffee (house coffee) will work fine but you will need to paint a lot more layers to get darker colors.  A single shot of espresso works best to get the most concentrated result. The longer the coffee sits in it's container the thicker and darker it will becomes. Call it Aging. Also, when coffee is left sitting for longer than a few days a thick layer will begin to form at the bottom of the container. This is an extra benefit because immediately provides a darker color to paint with. If you are a coffee drinker you may be familiar with seeing this concentrated coffee left over at the bottom of your cup. Don't drink it - Paint with it! 

  •  Dried coffee This is used in the same way as watercolor paint. It's easy to make your own. Pour a small amount of espresso in a shallow white dish and wait for it to completely dry. If you have a sunny spot available it will dry in less than two hours. 
 •  Storage - As time goes by coffee will thicken while in storage. It can be used full strenght or be diluted as needed.  You can also keep several different strengths  in separate containers. Keep the containers with liquid espresso air tight when not in use.  Beware of mold and refrigerate if not used over long periods of time.
  •  Brushes
The most important thing about brushes is the better the quality the better your work will be.  Take  care of your brushes and they will last forever.  The two basic shapes are square and round.  The size and shape depends on what you are painting.  Each of these shapes come in various sizes.
 •  Clean Water
Keep very clean water available at all times.  It's important to use a clean brush each time you move to a different area of your work - especially when moving to a lighter area.  This keeps the dark and the light separated needed to get stronger tones and contrast.  Keeping your brush clean is a big deal.
 •  Pencils
Drawing can be kept at a minimum and maybe just used to outline or sketch and image in the beginning.  The outline helps hold the "image" in place until the area has been painted.  Applying pencil drawing as the layers build up can give you sharp line definition and added details. I use coffee to paint over my pen­cil draw­ings or, in reverse order, I draw over my coffee paintings. The process can involve many repetitions of applying coffee, letting it completely dry and then adding pencil or graphite. The image grows deeper and richer with each layer. Caution-once the layer of coffee has dried the pencil marking under it can no longer be erased.
 •  Erasers
Make sure area is completely dry before erasing to avoid smearing the coffee. Always use a white eraser. The best erasers Kneaded Rubber erasers. 
•  Paper
Coffee can be painted on any paper surface.  Watercolor paper or heavy weight drawing paper are best. 
  -  Watercolor paper is thicker paper and has the advantage of allowing more depth that can be achieved by painting more layers. The more layers the darker and deeper the images become. The two basic weights or thicknesses of watercolor are #140 and #300. Cold Press = rough  and Hot press = smooth. My favorite is Arches #140 Hot Press watercolor paper
  - Drawing paper offers a smoother surface but has a tendency to buckle when it dries if it's been too saturated with coffee. Quick dry washes are best for paper and can be layered with patience.  Poster board is another option.
 •  Paper Towels
Paper towels are used as blotters and as erasers.  Coffee is unexpectedly  "forgiving"  it can be immediately lifted (blotted out)  if you've made a mistake.  Also when the coffee has dried you can still re-wet an area with clean water and blot out or erase the unwanted coffee. This is one of the big differences between watercolor and coffee.
 •   Hairdryer - Optional
Drying is not really a material but a very important step in the ongoing process. Each layer of coffee needs to be completely dry before applying the next layer.  If more coffee is added to a painted area that is still wet it will get darker but may also get blurry. The color is stronger if the underpainting is already dry.   A hair dryer will speed the drying process.