Blog home page

6 Different Ways to Use Coffee in Your Art

a watercolor piece of artwork using the muse kit box featuring ink and coffee

Hey there Muse Kit friends, and welcome to the November blog and the brand-new Muse Kits box.

As you can see, this month's box is a super exciting one: Ink and Coffee.

We love to explore outside of the traditional art materials bubble and see what we can use to create art that is a little out of the box. Coffee is a normal household item that most of us have in our kitchen, so why not use what you have and bring it into your art? It's affordable, easily accessible, and it's so fun to work with; wait until you try it for yourself.

Now, we know that approaching a new medium can be very overwhelming, but we are here to guide you. In this blog, we are going to be exploring six different ways that you can incorporate coffee into your art to get you inspired and ready to make some stunning creations with your box.

So brew yourself a cup of jo, and let’s get into it.

6 Ways to Use Coffee In Your Art

You might be thinking that there can’t possibly be that many ways to use coffee in art, but that is underestimating the power of this delicious art ingredient.

We suggest using instant coffee to make your art since it is less expensive and saving your ground coffee for drinking! Of course, you can always use the coffee you are drinking to make your art while you enjoy your beverage; just have fun with it!

So without further ado, let’s explore how to use coffee to make some incredible art.

Have a Coffee and a Sketch

A fun habit that I picked up when flying home every year for Christmas was drawing while I was waiting at my gate. I would get my coffee, get out my sketchbook and make a sketch of the coffee itself.

Well, how about you take that concept and include the coffee in the art?

This may be a bit messy and time-consuming to try at an airport, but at home or at a cafe would suit just as well.

Use the various brush sizes to outline and shade your cup of coffee using the beverage itself and see what you can come up with.

up close photo of a paintbrush using ink over a coffee stained page to create flowers

Coffee as a Base

There is nothing more intimidating than a blank page, so why not start with splashing around some coffee?

If you want to try this technique, we recommend using watercolor or mixed-media paper to prevent any buckling from happening.

You can simply paint the whole page in one wash and leave it at that. However, if you want to explore a little, why not start with a wash to wet the page and then darken it in varying places across the page? This will create a dappled look that will form shapes that you can build on later.

We recommend getting a few small containers and mixing some tiny batches of coffee of varying strengths. This way, you can essentially use coffee like a monotone watercolor set with depths ranging from a pale beige to a deep mahogany brown to give your piece dimension.

A fun experiment to try is dropping dry pieces of coffee onto the wet surface right at the end to create concentrated starbursts of coffee across the surface.

Once you have laid down your base, let it fully dry before going in with your ink and creating something beautiful on top of it.

folgers coffee splashed on a white sheet of paper to begin a painting

Aging Technique

This is a very similar technique to the above concept, but it works better when layered.

If you have a card, a fake document, a treasure map, or even just a journal page that needs an old-timey feel, coffee can help give these items a well-used feel. 

Start by creating the piece that you wish to age and letting it dry fully before going in with the coffee. You can go with a thin wash, or how we prefer is to darken around the edges and creases in the paper to emphasize them and make the page seem a little beaten up.

If you have kids, this is a wonderful way to get them involved with the box and maybe even jazz up some school projects with your new coffee-aging skills!

As a quick warning, if you are going to be using the coffee over a pre-drawn piece, we suggest checking that the pens you have used are not going to bleed when they come in contact with water. You should do a quick test with water before you start your piece so you don’t end up smudging your hardwork.

coffee stained paper to create shapes for art inspiration

Mapping Out Shapes

Just by looking at the brochure, you can see how well ink, pencils, and coffee work together, and that’s what this technique is all about.

Ink pens and pencils are much easier to render small details with than coffee, which is why we like to use coffee to map out shapes. Many artists start by filling in their pieces and then adding the linework on top, and there is no reason that you can’t also do this with coffee.

Use the brushes to map in the dark and midtones while carefully leaving the bright whites as negative space.

Once it fully dries, you can go in with your linework and add any color that you want with your pencils.

a glass of coffee splashing all over a wood surface with coffee grounds spilled next to it near paper straws

Let the Spills Speak to You

Coffee rings and spills are common imagery that pops up when we think of coffee, but these are not just accidents that need to be cleaned up; they can also be an inspiration.

Start by working with a ring by purposefully getting coffee around the bottom of the mug and placing it on your page. Then use the ring and spills around it speak to you and transform it into something new using the coffee as paint. 

Then it comes to the fun part!

Clear the area around your paper so nothing gets coffee stained, and then you can go to town! Start by spilling a small amount in a concentrated area and seeing what happens. Then work with the shape created to make your own creations.

Try spilling from different heights, spraying it with your fingers, and turning the page to let it drip. All of this will create some beautiful marks for you to get inspired by.

upclose shot of black ink layered over folgers coffee to create a bird, art tips

Add as a Layer in Mixed Media

Once you have gotten used to the idea of working with ink and coffee together, it's time to test the boundaries a little. 

Mixed media is a broad statement, but it basically involves art that combines at least two mediums to create your piece. For example, you could start your piece by collaging, then add coffee, followed by acrylics or markers. 

Working like this creates one-of-a-kind pieces that guide you in your own creation.

Coffee is not often considered a legitimate art supply to use in mixed media, but we think it is an excellent, dynamic medium and will add some unique dimension to any piece.

A collection of cartoon fox sketches over a purple background with the muse kits brochure behind it.

After going through all these techniques, it's clear that coffee is actually an amazing art supply that can be used in so many different ways.

We hope this blog has got you inspired and excited to add coffee to your art kit.

We can’t wait to see the amazing coffee and ink creations that you have made; it's the best part of every month.

join muse kits for fine art supplies and mystery art kit subscriptions

Subscribe & Stay Creative!

Start receiving your monthly Muse Kits with everything you need to stay creative all month long.