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coffee painting

tile relief

by JuliannaKunstler.com

Painting with coffee. Observational drawing followed by coffee washes.

Learning objectives:

  • observational drawing
  • proportions
  • shape placement/size relationship
  • linear drawing
  • stylizing a drawing
  • implied texture
  • concept of washes
  • building up value with layers
  • show depth in a painting
coffee painting

Grisaille (from French: gris - grey, [ɡri.zai]) is a term for painting executed entirely in monochromatic color scheme, usually in shades of grey or brown

You are going to draw a tile by looking at it. It is important to keep all proportions aligned. Then you will outline and stylize the drawing. And finally, paint the values fit coffee instead of paint.

Any cheap coffee will work. You need to make a strong one to achieve darker values.

I found that INSTANT COFFEE works best as it dissolves perfectly an does not leave any particles behind.



pick a tile

Choose a tile from the choices that are available. Choose the one that truly interests you, one that intrigues you by its interesting subject matter, or by its composition. Please don't simply choose one that you think is "easy".

You will earn point based on the complexity of the design. These points are part of your grade.
If you choose a complex tile (15 points and up) you can earn up to A or A+ if you score well on the drawing and painting part.
If you choose an easy one (12 points and less) you can earn up to B or C if you score well on your performance.
The decision is yours.....

animal tiles


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village tiles


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Draw a 1" border.

Mark all key points that will help you place the layout of the scene.

Start with the perimeter of the tile.

Check and compare all major proportions of the main areas.

It is also helpful to find the center of the tile and the drawing.

You can use it as a reference point.

Don't forget to check and compare all heights.

Use your pencil to find all major angles in the layout.

Transfer them directly onto your drawing.

Now break the big shapes into smaller details.

The last thing is to draw the rest of the details.

Outline your design with a fine permanent marker.

Erase all pencil lines.

Stylize all corners in the drawing.

You can skip the small shapes though...

Copy texture that you see on the tile.

Use pointillism or/and other types of strokes.

Click on this image to zoom in.

Do a line drawing using regular pencil, drawing lightly so that you can easily erase. take your time during this step.

Start with laying out all major shapes. Make sure they are proportional to each other and the board itself.

Then draw in all the details...

The better your drawing is, the better your finished painting will be.
Do not create values (do not shade!!!)

Show darks and lights by drawing them as shapes without shading them in. You can also show different colors the same way. Draw the different colored shapes, but don't shade them in.

Be very accurate with proportions, placement of shapes, and with details.

Let me see your drawing before you go to the next step.


coffee painting

Paint the piece using coffee.

You will dilute instant coffee granules into water to create a "wash". You will use the wash to paint the variety of values. Follow the darks and lights in the tile as accurately as possible, translating these values into browns and sepia tones using coffee as your "paint".

Shapes touching each other should not be the same brown value.

Trace your design with a Sharpie again.

Don't lick your painting !!!!!


Premix few washes that you are going to use for more delicate positive space.

Make light and medium washes.

Use flat and round watercolor brushes.

Don't forget to use paper towel to remove excess coffee from your brush as you paint.

Find the darkest areas and paint them first.

Be patient and let the washes dry.

Each additional layer (or coat) of coffee - darkens the area.

coffee painting lesson