Tag Archives: tea staining

Maddie Walking Through Daisies


Something new I have been working on! A portrait of my niece. It is not completed and there are no other photos except for this one. I had purchased a good sheet of strong watercolor paper ( Arches 300 LB 22×30) and intend to work in watercolors with the tea and graphite. I am wanting to challenge myself with this piece and really hope it turns out as I envision. I will post more when completed.


Portrait of RJ

A very close friend of mine was relocating from the States to the UK this year and as a going away gift I wanted to give him something special! I spent hours scouring photo albums from our trips until I found a photo that inspired me. This image was from a trip to Prague in 2011. We were sitting in the courtyard of one of the many art museums in the city looking through a guidebook. The image seemed fitting considering all the trips that we have traveled together.

Originally I was intending to draw him within the courtyard background but eventually decided on a more graphic styled background that reflected his personality and didn’t place him in one setting. He seemed to like it ­čÖé

The Dancer

The Dancer (self portrait) 2006

The Dancer (2006) Tea and Graphite on Paper

I drew this self portrait when I needed some pieces to update my portfolio years ago for entrance into graduate school – Art Education. Immediately after graduating college in 2003 I fell into a creative funk. I no longer had steady access to a printshop, wasn’t even sure if I wanted to continue with printmaking, and was suffering from a creative block. I don’t recall creating anything artful for about three years until I decided that I needed a change and thought that returning to school for my masters in Art Education would be the change I needed. In a way it was. ┬áIt brought the act of creating art back into my life. ┬áI left school knowing that I wanted to make art.

This self portrait was drawn from a photograph taken of myself by a close friend at one of our social gatherings. We often got together all dressed up in thrift shop finds and dance all night in my friend’s living room. I remember this carefree night clearly and I remember this dress. If I recall, the neighbors hated us! This is one of my favorite drawings and I have often had offers by those close to me for it, but I could never part with it. The piece has meant so much to me. A portrait of myself from one of my happiest memories, my reemergence as an active artist and was one of the first pieces I created after college that I felt proud of.

The photograph of the drawing is not the best. There is a light tea staining in the background allowing the details of the graphite to push forward.

Currently Untitled

I started this drawing in 2010 and two years later I still feel that it is unfinished. What I still need to do is to push the darks further toward a more darker velvety texture and bring in some additional mid-tones in the face so that it’s not too pale and washed out. From past experience of painting with Tea, I know I need to compare how the tea staining has changed since I first began the piece and then make some corrective decisions so that it won’t look awkward and unintended. The combination of ┬ápaper, type of tea and possibly even the brew strength and temperature of the tea itself will determine how well the tea holds up over time after application. Some staining will fade away while others lose the warm brilliant undertones that is immediately noticed and become a duller shade of amber.

Currently the drawing is sitting in my bedroom behind my dresser waiting for me to return from work. I am sure it would have been finished long time ago if it wasn’t for my job keeping me away from home for months at a time. At the moment there is no permanent title. I know I had a few ideas, I wrote some notes on the back and in a few sketchbooks and random pieces of paper, but still nothing concrete.

The idea behind the piece is the loss of youthful innocence and hard kept ideals through harrowing adult experiences and the desperate attempt to hold onto the withering stems of that former identity.

I choose to represent the youthful ideals through childlike drawings of flowers, the very same that I myself remember drawing in art class as a young child, their wilting embodies the loss of innocence. The figure – based on a photograph I took of myself years earlier when I was crying and feeling at my most distraught – will not look at the viewer or at the flowers instead she casts her eyes to the side and downward, feeling alone in her struggles and sense of loss. The colors are muted to┬áreiterate her sense of loss. I left the figure herself black and white. It’s a bit of a preference of mine to appreciate the graphite marks, both subtle and dramatic, in a drawing and not cover them up with another medium. The figure itself is, in my opinion, the best subject to appreciate those drawing qualities that I love so much.

Most of my more serious work, the pieces on paper, tends to be strongly autobiographical. Like many other artists I use my own experiences as a well from which I draw inspiration from. This piece in particular reflected an emotional turning point in my life when I felt that I was no longer the same person and could never go back to who I was before. A moment that I am fairly certain every adult has experienced, its apart of life. I think the key is to not lose all of your previous self, to be able to still tap into that piece of you that  is still curious and wanting to see the possibilities of what stands before you, but balance our ideals and innocence with experience and wisdom.

Materials are Paper from a cheap roll that I bought in NYC, not sure of the makers, Tea bags, Teas, graphite and some graphite washes.

Portrait of Baby K

The unfinished portrait of Baby K.

Many years ago a former boyfriend had asked me to draw this for his friend, but when our relationship came to a sudden end I was left with an unfinished portrait of a baby that I never met. Naturally I had lost interest in completing the portrait and eventually moved my attentions onto other projects. ┬áI have, on a few occasions, thought about finishing the piece for the sake of having it finished. But, I have learned that it is best to work on a piece with a consistent “feeling”. I am a very different person now, and my style and artistic eye is not quite the same as it was in 2007. I think at this point the piece would look awkward and unnaturally forced if I were to rework it now.

The additional work needed was on the hands and some further definition of the daffodils. The Daffodils was my personal favorite part of this piece. I had this vision of beautiful slender daffodil stems emerging from the tea staining. I wanted to build up a transition between the warm staining and green acrylic washes.

Baby K, 2007 (unfinished)

Baby K (unfinished), 2007 – Detail of Daffodil

Baby K (unfinished), 2007 – Detail of Baby

Mike and Andrew

Last October I was commissioned by a close friend to draw a portrait of her husband and young son. She wanted something special and personal to give her husband for the holidays.

Large scale graphite drawing in a sketchy style with black tea staining in the background to bring forward the subject. Completed in December of 2011.

Mike and Andrew 2011, Graphite and black tea staining on paper.