A Personal Exploration of Coffee Craft and Consumption
I have been painting now for roughly 3 years, and sketching since some time in 2010. In my experience, I have found that the best way to progress in my artwork is to set goals and then push myself to meet them. Continuous practice has become a tool that I employ to try and reach the goals I have set. This can cause a few challenges when you get so saturated with painting that you just don't feel like there is anything 'new' out there, which is precisely where I found myself early one morning while getting my 'usual' coffee at the Temple on 9th Street in Downtown Sacramento.
I am not sure if it was out of sheer desperation, or some kind of super inspiration, I snapped a photo of my Latte for that morning and started contemplating the piece for the day.
Something in that foam art grabbed me. I found the purity of the heart and the multitude of bubbles to be visually interesting, I wondered if I could pull it off. I started sketching in ernest, and before I left that morning I put down my initial wash. Over the next day or two I continued to contemplate the piece, laying in wash after wash trying to capture that perfect foam color. (it was very elusive, I thought about giving up a couple of times.)
Here is the 3rd day of work:
I returned to the photo over and over again, just hoping I could get some of that beautiful depth and richness found in the foam. As I layered in complimentary colors, trying to tease out the essense of the photo, I found a certain peace with the process. I think it ended up taking me 5 days of solid (1 hour) painting sessions, but I finally arrived at a piece that I was very proud of.
Shortly after I completed the Latte piece I was having coffee with close friend of mine. She had an iced coffee and the light was hitting it in such a way it really stood out. I decided, why not! I snapped a photo and got to work on a sketch.
I return to a few very comfortable mechanisms when I compose a painting, this was no different. I decided it would be boring to just paint exactly what I saw in the photo, I wanted to push it a little bit.
This piece turned out very nice:
As I worked through this painting and discussed the new found 'peace' I had in painting these coffee drinks with my friend, we came to the subject of the expanding craft coffee industry. In fact, Sacramento has at least 5 boutique coffee roasting houses in the downtown area that all have their own fiercely loyal clientele. Unfortunately, I am a creature of habit and had ordered a Latte every single morning for the last 1.5 years! I decided it was necessary for me to branch out, to experience as many of the different coffee preparations that I could; and so, the Coffee Series was born.
I don't think this was my favorite preparation, honestly...the sludge at the bottom of my cup kind of weirded me out. It wasn't terrible coffee, but it definitely wasn't my favorite!
(I love the painting though!)
I have returned to this preparation a few times, there is just something about the ritual of slowly pouring hot water over the prepared grind of coffee that is just sublime. I have found though....I don't like 'stone fruit' in the description of my coffee, I avoid those now!
I consider this drink the father of our modern coffee culture, this was the first piece that I did some background research on before approaching. I have gained such a deep respect for this ancient drink, one that crosses culture, language, time, and locale.....Coffee is everywhere, and I've just begun to explore.
WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!!!! It's not over!
As I was working on the espresso piece, I had a conversation with a few of my co-workers.... I overlooked one of the most ubiquitous coffee drinks EVER: The Cup Of Joe (Diner style). Not just any cup of joe, but a CUP of joe, (the classic mug is very important).
I spent a few days researching on Yelp......
(looking at every diner I could find, I didn't care what their food looked like, just the mugs!)
I finally found the perfect diner, it's called the Lucky Cafe (fitting) just inside the midtown area of Sacramento. If you haven't been there, the food is excellent, and the staff is really great. They gave me a slightly odd look when I requested a very specific white mug....but I would have done the same!
Cup of Joe
The final piece is quite representative, I think this process helped me find a methodology to create interesting art, that conveys a story. I like the way this piece finished up.
This series represents a concerted effort, I greatly enjoyed the process and plan on putting together more like it. Who knows there are a few drinks I definitely missed (Gibraltar, Americano, Cappuccino, etc)
I am very interested to hear your input on this series, let me know which ones you like, don't like.....and hopefully what it makes you feel.