At first glance, Clint Elias’ painting of Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood would seem like a watercolour painting done in shades of brown. Well, the ‘brown paint’ is actually coffee, and there’s nothing but coffee on the canvas!
Clint, a Kochi-based engineer, had always been interested in sketching and painting, celebrity faces being one of his favourite subjects. During the lockdown in 2021, Clint decided to pick up art one day after a break, only to find that he didn’t have paint in the house. The situation wasn’t conducive to go out and buy supplies either. This got Clint thinking, and he suddenly remembered coming across coffee art on the internet. He didn’t know of anyone doing it in Kerala but decided to try anyway. And the results turned out to be breathtaking.
However, painting with coffee is just like painting with any other medium, according to Clint. “You use coffee powder diluted with water as paint, and your skill lies in getting the exact shades of brown.” Clint’s painting of Clint Eastwood was an instant hit on social media, and soon he was inundated with questions on what it was, how coffee is used for painting and more. He went on to do a few more coffee paintings, the painted face of a Theyyam artist with all intricate details, a movie poster of actor Tovino Thomas and more. Incidentally, Tovino liked the work so much that he shared it on his Instagram page.
An interesting fact about coffee paintings is that you need only one spoon of powder for an A3 -sized painting, Clint says. “But you can use only processed coffee like Nescafe, not ordinary coffee powder, which will come out grainy.” Once a work is done, the coffee colours stay like any other paint, and you can frame the work if needed, he says.
In the process, Clint also put his own artistic skills to the test. “The one thing you should be careful about during painting is to not spill. If you spill, there’s no wiping it off like with paint. The stain will remain,” he says.
When Tara Ranjit announced one fine day during the lockdown that she’s going to make resin jewellery, her father, acclaimed Malayalam film director Ranjit Shanker, thought it would be another of her short-lived hobbies. Resin supplies were slightly expensive too, he grumbled. But within a month or two, the 16-year-old had sold off all her resin creations, and earned back the money spent on supplies! Which is not surprising either, resin art is relatively new to Kerala and Tara’s creations look exquisite and artistic – delicate bookmarks, jewellery, guitar picks and coasters and more, with pressed flowers and tiny prints embedded in them.
Like most lockdown artists, Tara learned her craft from YouTube. The process begins by getting the right kind of flowers or leaves to be set in resin, which are either bought or picked and then dried. “The drying process takes two weeks. Once it’s ready you pour the resin over it in the desired shape. There are different kinds of resin, and what I use is the kind that sets in 24 hours,” she says. Supplies aren’t locally available though, and online shops were her friend. The Plus Two student has also experimented with embedding tiny prints of world-renowned artworks on the jewellery, all of which she does herself. “I work at nights and whenever I get free time. Initially, it was just my friends but then I started getting commissioned works,” she says. The works are sold at low rates of Rs 150-300 as of now but the teenager plans to pursue her lockdown hobby more seriously in the future.
Kochi-based Chitra Som had always been an artist, specialising in mural art. She had conducted a few exhibitions as well of her works. But it was the lockdown that brought out the creative artist in her. The family was wondering what to do with the pile of leftover teak wood pieces from the construction work of her brother’s house nearby when Chitra hit upon the idea of making wooden wind chimes out of them. With the help of her carpenter, she got them cut into the same sizes, got holes made for the rope, and painted pretty little animals on them. In a week, the first wooden chime was done, which was meant as a one-time thing, a birthday present for her daughter. But the first one looked so good that her family and friends asked her to do more. Her grandson wanted one with cartoon characters on them, while someone else wanted one with murals. Chitra has made 11 of them so far, and is now considering selling her creations. “The best thing about wooden chimes is the sound, it’s like the bamboo wind chimes. I looked up a few YouTube tutorials on how to thread the wood pieces but it was easy. All you need is a bit of help from a carpenter and leftover wood pieces, even odd-sized ones. I never thought much of it and don’t have a social media page for it even, but my friends have been pushing me to start a business out of it,” she says with a laugh. Interestingly, while only very few paintings of hers had found buyers, the chimes have a lot of takers. “They are affordable and can be hung anywhere, in the garden, over baby cribs even. Plus, they are eco-friendly, you don’t need to buy any raw material,” she says. Chitra plans to make Christmas-themed chimes next and is on the lookout for other innovations as well.