Wake up and paint with coffee

For some, coffee is a morning ritual to start the day.

But for Mrs Maria Filatova-Chan, it is a medium she uses to express her creativity.

Last month, the 34-year-old artist conducted two one-day coffee painting workshops for students at Temasek Polytechnic (TP).

Mrs Filatova-Chan, who hails from Estonia but lives in Singapore, started painting with coffee in 2001 in university "when we had to explore new and unusual ways of expressing ourselves".

She said she fell in love with coffee as an art medium because of its flexibility and aroma.

The challenge, she said, was to create an entire palette of shades using essentially just one colour.

Using off-the-shelf instant coffee mixed with water, Mrs Filatova-Chan can create paintings of a peacock and the Merlion by just layering and shading the canvas with the beverage.

"Sometimes people see it as a waste of a good coffee, but most of the time I see positive responses and people are willing to try it out," Mrs Filatova-Chan said.


The history of coffee painting goes back to when coffee was used in Europe as a deterrent for domestic pests.

People would use coffee to paint pictures on bowls and available surfaces in the house or garden, which led to the discovery of coffee painting as an art form.

Some of Mrs Filatova-Chan's caffeinated crafts are being exhibited at the Coffee Art and Appreciation Exhibition at The Art Gallery @ Glocal Connect Village at TP until Oct 28.

This includes a wall mural illustrating contemporary coffee culture in Singapore. Her coffee paintings do not have a protective layer so visitors can even smell the coffee.

Organised by TP's Centre for TransCultural Studies, in collaboration with Mrs Filatova-Chan, Dutch Colony Coffee and Santino Coffee Specialists, the exhibition celebrates the culture, diversity and various practices and characteristics of coffee.

As for her workshops with the students, Mr Riordan Low, senior lecturer at the Centre for TransCultural Studies and the curator for the exhibition, said that they "will bring experiential learning and widen students' horizons while being a catalyst to future exploration and lifelong learning".

When Miss Elinor Leo's classmate told her about the workshop, she signed up expecting something completely different.

"When I stepped into the classroom and saw paper and paintbrushes, I was shocked as I thought the workshop would be like a latte art workshop," said Miss Leo, 17, who is studying for a diploma in baking and culinary science.


"I'm glad I signed up for Maria's workshop, which I think is great for everyone and anyone. I learnt a lot about coffee art and painting and it brought out the artist inside of me."

Seeing that she works with coffee, how many cups of the brew does Mrs Filatova-Chan drink a day?

"Funnily enough, I don't drink coffee at all because it makes me drowsy," she said.

"However, I do like its smell. It relaxes me and calms me down."

This article was first published on Oct 05, 2015.
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