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I began staining my papers with tea while in college. In the beginning I took more of a Frankenthaler approach with the material and would pour cups of various teas onto random papers and just enjoying the results that would occur. Now I am taking a more watercolorist approach with the material. I also deconstruct the tea bags and save the materials for projects.

I have come across some work by other artists working with tea, but they are mostly using the bags and materials in a sculptural matter. Which is AWESOME! However, I would like to know if others are using tea as a drawing/painting material and would you be willing to share your results? Which teas do you work with and why? what surfaces were the most challenging to stain/paint and how did you overcome it?

Below is my most recent tea drawing "The Crying Portrait". Its a combination of graphite with Raspberry Zinger (Celestial Teas) as the blueish violet color and drippings from various oolong teas brought home in a cup :P. It may be difficult to see some of the the tea details in the photo as the material tends to be a light and transparent.

The drawing is not complete yet. I have spent the past two weeks sketching, erasing, redrawing, lightly painting in the tea while the image was standing upright and adding heavier layers with the image flat on the floor (otherwise unwanted dripping will occur).

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Replies to This Discussion

When I worked at Landfall press ( ) I had the pleasure of Tea Staining a few Lesley Dill's ( ). Your work is different in the sense that it is being used more like watercolor stains which lends itself to a more airy quality. I think you might like Lesley's stuff though it can be more sculptural.
Thanks so much!!! I'm gonna check her work out right now!!! :P
You have a really nice start there...I haven't worked in teas but I know it's done. I guess the experimenting will be necessary. I like the thought of the different tones different teas would give. I wonder how light-fast they'd be in the end. That's something to research if you want your work to be long lasting right? Berries seem to last a long time, such as native American works with fabric. Good luck with this, be sure to share more results as you go eh?
Not related but you made me think of this woman I saw in Santa Fe who works a lot with dirt...lovely to see the nature factor!
Thanks I'm working on documenting what I am learning... and I will def post what I learn as I go... I find that so many elements (temp of tea, is the tea the fresh or fermented, the type of paper, surface etc etc) affect the results.

What does the woman in Santa Fe do with dirt???
I'll have to look up her name again, it's in a bunch of gallery fliers I brought back.
The gallery where I saw her work doesn't seem to be showing her right now.
I'm not sure how she did it but the surface of her work was actually dirt, maybe glued to the backing. She floated some balls of sand or dirt (probably a wooden core or something) on wires out from the backing, sort of a floating effect, and there were some strings I remember; great shadows! They looked like excavation digs or something...I'll let you know when I find her. She may be deep in my firefox favorites somewhere if I could only remember her name.

It's terrible to remember someone's work and not remember their name eh?! I'm horrible!
I have that same problem of remembering artwork better then the artist's name... :P:P I have a problem with names in general :P:P
I found her...Cathy Aten...unfortunately it says her site is under construction so you can't see a good sampling of her "dirt paintings". There's a couple towards the bottom of this galleries page of her work; the ones on the wall with cracked dried dirt was what I saw.
The compositions of the wall hanging ones I saw were flatter and more complex though. I have a flyer but it's copies from a magazine article ("New Mexico" magazine. Jan 2006) and I don't think they would scan well.

Anyway, worth sharing since we're talking creative materials here. Dirt and rocks and colored clay, sometimes a small bone...all very earth pure.
Thanks so much!! I will check her out this evening!!


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