Featured Artist Ilona Zabolotna

Artist Ilona Zabolotna paints portraits that capture the personality of her subjects, using coffee as a medium. View more of her work by visiting her website.


Figurative painting in coffee

“Mood Moment” Coffee on Canvas, 18″ x 18″


I am a coffee painting artist living in upstate New York in Saratoga County. I was born into a family of artists, so my first and best art teacher was my dad. He is a great graphic artist and oil painter. After college, however, I decided to ignore his advice and made the choice to pursue ceramics art and sculpture. I got my Masters Degree at Lviv National Academy of Decorative and Applied Arts in my native country of Ukraine.


Coffee Portrait of a woman in a sheet drinking coffee by Ilona Zabolotna

“Delight” Coffee on Canvas, 18″ x 18″


I wanted to be an artist from an early age, and I love to work in different mediums. I didn’t think about how important it was for me to create until I was facing the difficult challenge of beginning a new life as an immigrant and couldn’t make the time to work on my art as much as I wanted.


Coffee Painting of a sprite-like creature with wings by Ilona Zabolotna

“Flash” Coffee on Canvas, 18″ x 18″


I was depressed and unhappy until I was inspired to use coffee as a medium for painting. Coffee painting gave me the opportunity to combine my other jobs and art. I do not have to depend on daylight anymore and I don’t need special equipment to paint with coffee. This medium has inspired me to develop new techniques.


Painting of a fairy by Ilona Zabolotna

“Midsummer Dream” Coffee on Canvas, 18″ x 18″


I couldn’t find any useful information about the technique of painting with coffee, so I started to do my own experiments to create the dark, intense color I needed and to learn what works best as a fixative for my finished work.


Figurative painting made with coffee

“To Hide” Coffee on Canvas, 18″ x 18″


To get dark, thick coffee color for my paintings, I collect and settle brewed espresso for several months. When it becomes dry, I bake it in the oven at a high temperature and then mix it with fresh coffee.


Portrait of a woman drinking coffee painted with coffee by Ilona Zabolotna

“Coffee Planet Guest” Coffee on Canvas, 12″ x 12″


I love to use people as my models to add emotion to my art pieces. I really enjoy doing portraits and I am always trying to capture the spirit and the expression of my subjects.


Coffee painting of a girl and her horse by Ilona Zabolotna

“Silent Love” Coffee on Canvas, 10″ x 10″


Whether I do a portrait of a woman, a man or a pet, I’m always attentive to small details and try to imagine that I’ve known them for a long time. I think about what kind of details make this particular face special.


Figurative painting made with coffee by Ilona Zabolotna

“Splash” Coffee on Canvas, 18″ x 18″


In my coffee paintings I combine realism with an abstract background, fitting them to each other, complementing them with lines and areas of different tones, creating gradations from the white canvas to the darkness of the coffee.


Coffee portrait of Benedict Cumberbatch drinking coffee by Ilona Zabolotna

“Benedict Cumberbatch” Coffee on Canvas, 11″ x 14″


I let the coffee “talk” by pouring it on the canvas, most of the time waiting until it is almost dry. At this point, it could change everything, and it looks like the image is having a dialog with the medium.


Coffee painting of a happy young woman drinking coffee by Ilona Zabolotna

“Lovely Drink” Coffee on Canvas, 12″ x 12″


I want to convey my inspiration with the medium of coffee, choosing themes that I feel everyone can relate to—little joyful moments in life. I never work on my paintings when I’m in a bad mood or unhappy. All my paintings are made from my soul and are full of love.


Artist Ilona Zabolotna invites you to follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy.


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  1. ann marie snyder says

    I like your art .Nice portraits that really show feeling of the people. Makes you want to enjoy life in the very simple moments. I still don’t understand how you came to think of coffee as a medium but it works.

  2. Thank you so much for your nice comment, it is supporting me and my art

  3. It’s amazing…I really wanna try this…your art is an inspiration ❤

  4. Phil Warner says

    I bought the painting shown in this article called “Splash” at “Uncommon Grounds” in Albany. I look at it daily, and really like it. Am wondering if the 2 women shown are different models, or different views of the same person? Please continue your “coffee” journey; would love to see where you can take it.

  5. Judy Brunner says

    I just saw one of your coffee paintings at a friend’s house. I am so moved by it….the horse nuzzling a cat….do you have that one for sale?

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