Home / Art

Beautiful Coffee and Ink Portraits on 100-Year-Old Paper

While you may know Michael Aaron Williams as artist who places beautiful cardboard cut-outs of homeless people on the street, you may not know that he's also very skilled at creating portraits using everyday materials like books or rusty sheets of metal.

This new body of work was created using a familiar liquid many of us enjoy in the morning. It's made up of coffee, carefully brushed onto antique ledger paper from the 1920s and '30s, and a little bit of ink. When asked what it was like using coffee as a medium, Williams told us this, “Coffee is a great medium because it has a natural organic color. It seems to just fit right in to the natural colors found in antique paper. It can be used very much like watercolors except it's less expensive and it smells great! You just have to brew it strong.

“I also use some ink for the darker areas because one drawback of coffee is that it can get brittle and shiny when you make it too dark so it helps troubleshoots this problem. It can get a little stickier than watercolor but you get used to it.”

Just as unique as the medium Williams used, is the canvas. The artist found the vintage paper in an old abandoned Appalachian store that was owned by his great and great, great grandparents. “These pages have been laying in this old building for 100 years. Time has added years and years of character to the paper, so when I paint on them, it enhances the character of the artwork itself.”

Reminds me a of Carne Griffiths ink and tea portraits but with more liquid (coffee) and less ink. Love the thoughtfully placed streaks.

Michael Aaron Williams website and Facebook page

Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content