Brooklyn-based artistLauren Orschelnapproaches each canvas with a large brush and a pot of instant coffee.
For coffee snobs out there, don’t worry: the instant brew isn’t for drinking, it’s for painting.
“The viscosity of the instant coffee works great on the canvas,” Orscheln told Business Insider. Plus she likes the rich, brown colour.
Orscheln, who showed some of her work at Coffee’s Night Out last month in Greenpoint, started experimenting with coffee as an artistic medium five years ago when a teacher recommended it as an exercise. First, she used a hair dryer to caramelize the coffee for a sculptural effect, and that evolved into working with it in figurative painting, her main pursuit.
She starts painting on the coffee with a big brush then moves to a smaller one farther into the sketching process. Orscheln uses charcoal to create outlines. When it mixes with the coffee, the charcoal gets “flattened and looks more like paint.”
“When I’m working with coffee, it’s more about forms and lines,” Orscheln said, “It’s not so much about coffee acting as a rendering device.”
If she makes a stroke with the coffee she doesn’t like, Orscheln can wipe it off the gesso-treated canvas with a rag. That usually leaves a bit of a yellow stain behind, but it doesn’t bother her. She likes viewers to see “a history of the piece.”
Orscheln works on the coffee and charcoal layer of her paintings for a couple days, about 10 to 15 hours of collective work. It takes a half-hour to dry, but she usually takes at least a day off before finishing the piece with oil paint.
“If I put too much oil on top, it’s very easy to wipe it off with a turpenoid rag,” Orscheln said. “I want the coffee to show through in the end.”
Keep scrolling to see some of Orscheln’s work.
“Self Portrait” is the last in a series of self portraits Orscheln painted. She used coffee, watercolor and charcoal.
“Botched Debauchery” is the first piece Orscheln painted with coffee. She sketched entirely with the medium, then added charcoal to create the shadows.
Earlier this year, Penrose, a blues and rock band that moved to Brooklyn from Philadelphia, asked Orscheln to design an album cover for them. It’s one of the few pieces Orscheln painted on paper. She sketched in coffee and said it gives warmth to the watercolors.
Orscheln started “Freudian Slip” with charcoal and then added coffee to figure out where she wanted the most depth. She added even more coffee after the layer of oil paint to get the pigment she wanted.
Orscheln said she was especially happy with how the coffee background came through in the final image, titled “The Foot Painting.”
For “Tousled Sheets and Paint,” Orscheln painted a bunch of fruit thrown on her own bed, first with coffee and watercolor, then with oil paint.
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