Tea Mermaids

The local art store and a coffee shop here were doing a contest called “brew a masterpiece”,  and here’s what I entered:


I used Faber-Castell ink pen to draw it, then stained it with highly concentrated tea and coffee. The coffee has a more red/orange tone, while the tea (regular black tea) had a yellow hue. The surface of the cup was a bit frustrating to use the tea and coffee on, it wanted to just run off of it at first, then the paper started to ball up from the liquid – ugh! Hair dryer to the rescue! Drying between layers really helped to get some shading and color onto the cup. I still had a hard time getting some contrast in the browns, so I used just a tad of watercolor with the tea to get some of the darker bits you see.

I ended up liking this cup so much I wanted to do it on an actual piece of paper and keep it for myself =D Kind of rare for me to keep a piece, I tend to always be painting things as gifts or commissions. This one’s mine!


For this painting I had already stretched a piece of hot press watercolor paper weeks before, so I just used it. I’ve been experimenting with papers lately, so this was a hot press paper that I had in an old watercolor sampler tablet I found, it’s by Strathmore, called Lana-Mould Made, 140lb..
I transferred my original sketch onto the paper and then inked it. I had to brew some fresh coffee and tea which turned out a bit differently than the cup colors had been. Painting or staining with tea is so interesting, it always comes out a little differently. This paper took to the tea and coffee a lot better than the cup did. Once I had finished the tea and coffee I added a bit of watercolor to add some contrast, just like I did on the coffee cup. I used a hair dryer to dry each layer also.
I used bell bronze acrylic ink to add some shimmer to the mermaids fins and scales, this color matched the tea and coffee so perfectly it was amazing! I also used an acrylic paint pen to bring some highlights to a few spots that had the tea/coffee bleed into them. I’ll list the items I used on this piece below.

As always, this piece is now available as a print in my shop. I’m offering a limited edition, artist enhanced print as well. The artist enhanced print is printed on watercolor paper then I’ve added some of the bell bronze ink to the tails of the mermaids. There’s only 25 of these limited prints, so go check them out!

You can actually watch me paint this entire piece on Youtube. I just started a channel and will be trying to get a few videos up every month, so subscribe to get updates. I’ll also be posting my videos here.

List of materials used:
Strathmore Lana hot press watercolor paper, 140lb.
Faber-Castell india ink, black XS, S
Micron 005
– Tea, black
– Coffee, instant brew (yuck!)
– Daniel Smith Watercolor
Daler-Rowney FW Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Ink, Bell Bronze
Montana Marker, white acrylic, extra fine