Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 13: Tea

There are probably different ways to work with tea, artistically, but I've heard of people painting with tea, and I was curious to try it. I'm not all that thrilled with the method, honestly. I made a pretty strong black tea, but it's still a very subtle effect that took a lot of washes. Maybe I'm just not patient enough for the process, but as you can see I gave in and inked the outlines just to make the picture read clearly. It was an interesting experiment, and I might still try painting with coffee, but I'm also not sure what the tannins will do to the paper over time...
For anyone interested, the tea used was Twinings Irish Breakfast. I welcome tips if anybody else has had more success with this technique.

This eccentric illustration is brought to you by the children's book, 'Alexander and the Magic Mouse'. Alexander is the alligator, and the magic mouse really doesn't come into the story much, but my favorite of the characters was always the yak. She doesn't have much of a role, either, but she's described as a lady yak, who gives yak milk every day, which can be made into yak butter, such as the Tibetans use in their tea.

I guess I have this book to thank for that eccentric piece of knowledge, thanks. I have no desire to try yak butter in my tea. It sounds horrible, although that might be partly because I can't divorce in my mind how hairy yaks are, so I picture that in the tea, too.
The remaining animal in the picture is a brindle tom cat, and all these animals live with an elderly lady who's done a lot of traveling and has a weird idea of what constitutes a souvenir, but apparently lives somewhere there's no laws against exotic pets. They all live together in an absolutely gorgeous house full of lush plants and antique furniture, and they spend a lot of time all having tea together.
© Philippe Fix reproduced w/out permission.
The illustrations are gorgeous, especially a two-page spread picture of their house in the rain. At least half of them are in color, but the ones that aren't are done in a kind of sepiatone, which I thought painting with tea might imitate. No such luck, so I'll just go back to wishing I could step into the illustrations in the book.


  1. Hairy tea...what a lovely thought! I am drinking a lovely cup of Pu-Erh (not sure if I spelled that right), which is incredibly dark and reminds me of coffee!

  2. You did spell it right, and that's good stuff. Umami has some butterscotch toffee Pu-erh you should try...