If you were to hand someone a bottle of beer, they would most likely have one of two reactions: either accepting it and taking a sip, or politely refusing. But for Karen Eland, she would see it as a bottle of paint.
Eland is an artist who, rather than using watercolors or oils, uses beer and coffee to create works of art. This unusual medium has gained her fame and recognition across the internet, mostly for the novelty. Once you look beyond the method of creation, though, the true creativity of the work shines through.
The Oregon native began her career painting solely with coffee but began experimenting with beer sometime in 2008. She told The Telegraph that the method of creation is more or less the same as using coffee- “I pour out some beer and start dipping my brush and painting. I use stouts and porters to create the paintings, with sometimes lagers or lighter beers to do the light areas. Sometimes I like the beer to evaporate awhile, condensing the color.”
Eland fully admits that it’s not an effortless process, especially given the level of detail in the resulting art. Depending on the complexity and size of the painting, it could take up to two days to complete. There are some benefits, however; her life in Oregon has given her easy access to several craft and independent breweries. The Brewers Association even commissioned her to use one of their imperial stouts to create two paintings, a time lapse of which is included below.
Given the medium, the subject matter is fairly unsurprising. Historical events involving beer are always a favorite subject. Even if there’s no alcohol in sight, if it adds to the humor, beer is added. This sense of wit has resulted in works like the founder of Guinness… painted with a Guinness. Eland also recreates famous paintings with her medium of choice, resulting in pieces such as the “Mona Latte.” “You would think that beautiful, colorful paintings like ‘Starry Night’ or the ‘Café Terrance’ wouldn’t translate well without color,” she said, “but they look cool in just brown.”
It’s not just shades of mud and mocha for Eland, though. During a trip to Paris in 2012, she challenged herself to paint the Eiffel Tower using nothing but wine. It drew quite the crowd of fellow tourists curious if she could (and she did). But seeing as she admits brown is a soothing color, it’s no surprise she tried another beverage with the hue. “In the winter,” she explained to Bend Magazine, “I’d like to do a hot chocolate and chocolate painting class. That’d be cozy.”
While she does sell her art online via both Etsy and her personal store, Eland also makes money through her classes at the local art center. Offered once a month, the “Sip & Dip” course provides you with the drink of your choice and all the supplies you need to create your own coffee or beer masterpiece.
Eland’s creativity has led her to seeing what most consider a beverage as something more. She’s found new uses for humble drinks and shown they’re for more than guzzling down at a party. Which leads to the biggest question of all: does Eland partake in her “paints” while at work? “People always wonder if I drink and paint at the same time. Just like with the coffee, I can only have a little or else my paintings might unintentionally become abstract! I do enjoy my paint though, both beer and coffee.”
Follow our world of creation on Instagram, where “what if” becomes “what is.”