Today, we are going to paint, but we aren't going to use any paint! Throughout history--all the way back to ancient cave paintings--we can find examples of civilizations and artists who used materials other than paint as we know it today to create works of art.
Tea and coffee have been used for painting since ancient times. The Chinese began to paint with brewed, cooled tea to create the backgrounds for their artwork. They would simply brew their tea until the water was saturated with color. The color of the tea would depend on what herbs it was made with! This gave them a lot of variation in color.
hey would then use the tea with brushes to stain the paper, and let it dry. Once dry, they would paint over top the tea with ink to get their image! Tea was also used in this time to dye fabrics. Do you have any tea at home? Have an adult help you brew a strong batch, set it aside to cool, and then try using it as a paint!
Karen Eland is an artist who paints using coffee!
She has been an artist since childhood, experimenting with painting portraits since she was 14 yeas old.
One day, Eland was at Kaldi’s Coffeehouse in New Orleans, where she would go every day to sketch her fellow French Quarter locals while sipping a black coffee with a dash of nutmeg on top. She was looking at the dark liquid in her cup when she felt an urge to use it in her drawing! From then on, she became obsessed with painting beautiful works of art using coffee and other dark liquids that aren't paint!
Take a look at this painting of a busy New York street. Would you have guessed she used coffee? How many layers do you you think it took for her to paint the darkest parts, such as the tires and street lamps? How do you think this painting would smell if you could see it in person?
What else can we use to paint? How about food?
Native Americans used many different types of natural materials for for paint. They were creative in finding materials to use. Almost anything that had vibrant color and could be crushed and ground into small bits could be used to create a paint. These substances included clay, minerals, ores, rocks, soils, and many types of plants, flowers and fruits. They would combine one of these with binders that helped turn it into a liquid or paste, including milk, eggs, sap from plants, animal fats and cactus juice.
In particular, Native Americans often used roots, berries and tree bark to make pigments for face paints. They would crush the items and grind them into a paste to blend with other materials to form paint!
There are tons of ways to create “paint” from fruits and veggies. You can cook them to create a stain, mush them, blend them and so on. One fun way to paint using berries is to spread the whole fruit across your canvas, and mush with your hands to create a stain background, similar to the way the Chinese created their backgrounds with tea. Once dried, you can go over it with ink to create an image!