Artist Steven Mikal uses a unique medium for his warm, sepia toned abstract and realism paintings—liquid coffee! Learn more about this artist and his fascinating work by visiting his website.
I use the ordinary to expose the often missed. Working with only leftover or expired coffee manipulated with brushes, spackling knives, old t-shirts and other various bits and pieces of absorbent or discarded materials, I strive to bring attention to the many compositions and inherent beauty that is hidden, sometimes tucked away within nooks and crannies, in the world around us.
I am passionate about our gift, as humans, to be able to “see” beyond simple observation.
This gift, however, is often neglected as a result of our addiction to technology and our hustle and bustle lifestyles. We no longer “stop to smell the roses” let alone allow ourselves to take a moment to truly “see” all the incredible art that exists naturally in the world around us.
I make art composed of intertwined leaves and branches gathered by the breeze along the edge of a parking lot, or the subtle nuances of tonal shades and abstract forms that can be seen within the rain as it weaves it’s path down a window pane.
After painting with traditional watercolors until 2008, I began experimenting with liquid coffee as a medium, researching and developing a process that results in finished and sealed monochromatic paintings of warm sepia tones exhibiting the light fastness and stability of archival oil paintings.
Originally I used watercolor techniques to produce almost photographic depictions of my subjects and unique perspectives. Later, I expanded into my abstract style.
For my realism paintings, I typically work from a detailed pencil sketch in my sketchbook and lightly lay out the composition on Arches 300 lb rough paper.
This layout may be only a few lines with basic shapes or extremely detailed, depending on the painting subject. Then, starting with the lightest tones, I begin applying washes of liquid coffee, carefully painting around areas that will remain as highlights. I continue to apply progressively darker tones, layering to add shadows and details until the painting is finished.
My abstract works usually begin with an idea or composition in mind. I start by underpainting a stretched canvas with various dark coffee washes, tilting and manipulating it.
Based upon the effect I want to achieve, I allow the coffee wash to dry to a certain point and then begin to remove and reapply new coffee layers using different types of absorbent materials, brushes and tools to form the sepia toned patterns.