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How to Paint with Tea

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Tea consists of natural pigments that can be used to stain paper. Using watered-down tea is a great way to play with light and dark shading in a painting. While black teas make the darkest colors, you can experiment with red-colored fruit teas such as strawberry and raspberry for more variety in pigments.

Start by boiling water. Put two tea bags into a cup and add just enough boiling water to cover the tea bags. Allow the tea to sit for five minutes. This releases the pigment into the water to make a dark paint. Press the tea bags against the side of the cup to strain before removing. Pour a small amount of the tea into a section of your palette.

This is the darkest of three tea colors you are going to make. To make the other two colors, you simply adjust the amount of water being used when you steep the tea. For the medium shade put the tea bags back in the cup and fill the cup half way with boiling water. Repeat the steps above and you will have the second shade. For the lightest color, repeat the process but use a full cup of boiling water.

Sketch your design onto a watercolor piece of paper with a pencil then begin painting the picture with the tea the same way that you would a normal painting. Work with the different colors to create contrast between light and dark. You can use all your favorite watercolor techniques like lifting, scrubbing, blotting and painting a controlled wash.

The dawn of time started with a strong cup of tea. Tea is an inherent part of many cultures. Who doesn't want a hot cup of tea on a cold, rainy day? Now you have the option of enjoying your tea as a paint medium in addition to being a time honored ritual.


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About the Author: Karen Strum is a Tampa Bay illustrator available for freelance projects. A unique cast of characters in her style can be designed for use in advertisements and materials for which you want something extra special. Karen's cartoons use retro imagery and vintage color palettes that add charm to every image she creates whether it is a comic, logo, diagram, book cover, or concept image. [Send an Email]
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