I Can’t, Sorry

This project was challenging for me. I went through idea after idea, testing different media, and making a lot of mistakes before finally landing on my final topic. I started out wanting to pay homage to my two homes: Portland and New York, but this idea proved to be a little too general and I struggled with the media I was working with. I wanted to push myself and work in a medium I hadn’t before, or even work in 3D, but I bit off more than I could chew and my project didn’t progress much further than sketches and scraps of the strange materials I bought (plastic bowls?? styrofoam spheres??) I then honed in on a more specific event that happened, and although the event wasn’t life-altering, the simpler topic made for a much smoother process and exploration of materials.


The medium I chose to work with was coffee. Painting with coffee is a lot of fun; it gives a worn-old-map look to the paper, it spreads nicely to create these darker colored edges, and the little coffee bean remnants can create nice texture too. Even though my piece looks fairly uncomplicated and simple, it took quite a while to make because each layer of coffee had to dry before I painted the next on.

I wouldn’t consider myself a perfectionist at all, but when it comes to composition I am. I measured the paper and divided it up perfectly so that each letter was the same size and each space between each letter was also the same size. If I had the chance to remake this piece or alter it in any way, I would work larger and save more white space around the edges. After adding the letters to create the phrase, I dipped a cup in the coffee and added rings and a few drips on the paper to make sure the viewer knew it was coffee I was working with and not just brown watercolor.

Overall, this project was a success once I pushed past my initial inspiration block and material troubles. I’m lucky to work well under pressure because I didn’t arrive at my final idea until about a week before the project was due.

Click here to read more about the inspiration and story behind this piece.

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