Coffee artist is full of beans in advance of Shropshire exhibition

Artist Lena Jarl Churm discovered that it was possible to paint with coffee purely by accident.

Artist Lena Jarl Churm who discovered coffee makes the perfect ‘paint’ for her artworks
Artist Lena Jarl Churm who discovered coffee makes the perfect ‘paint’ for her artworks

Lena, who started painting in earnest only eight years ago, dropped some coffee on a watercolour she was working on two years ago and thought "that looks nice."

"It is quite difficult to get the colours right," said Lena, of Little Wenlock.

"To make it thicker I have to use instant coffee. I brew from Italian, Swedish and mix up with different shades, also adding cocoa to make it a certain thickness.

"I can even add whipping cream - you can have the whole coffee experience in a painting, even a latte," added a full-of-beans Lena, 65, who has been married to Brian for 15 years.

Lena, who hails from Sweden, is one of seven children, and did not have the chance to develop a career as an artist as a youngster, even though she was good at art at school.

Life then took over and she trained first as a nurse, and then became a chef, to pay the bills.

Lena has been using coffee instead of traditional watercolours for her art

Twelve years ago she came to the UK with her engineer husband and was soon afterwards able to fully express herself as an artist. Firstly in acrylic and then in watercolour, after booking herself on the wrong weekend course back in her native Sweden.

But finding the medium of coffee has helped Lena to develop something of a niche. She is working on a commission to paint the Ironbridge in coffee, and was recently commissioned by the Daily Brew coffee shop in Shrewsbury, to "make something up" and she created four abstract paintings for its walls.

Lena, who is a trustee and volunteer at the Visual Art Network at Shrewsbury's Darwin Shopping Centre, agrees that popping open a new jar of coffee is one of life's great smell experiences.

Although sniffing caffeine for a long time is not something she can recommend.

"After five and an half hours I get a bit of a headache," said Lena, who has been dubbed the Moccachino Artist. "Then I have to go and get some fresh air."

One of Lena’s landscapes which was painted using coffee

Lena will be joined by five other artists at an exhibition at Little Wenlock Village Hall later this month.

From 10am to 4pm on October 23 and 24 members of the public will be able to get in free to see the works of photographer Alan Lees, mixed media specialist Veronica Snelling, painter Jean Mills, Telford mosaic creator Jackie Coyle and spectacular quilt maker Alison Jones.

Lena is promising to use her skills as a chef to make some fantastic cakes for the village hall art exhibition, which may help persuade visitors to come along and buy some presents in the pre-Christmas build up.

Selling her work is not Lena's mission in art. She paints and if people like her work enough to buy it, that's great but she says "I have a garage full of art that I haven't sold!"

She adds: "Art is in the eye of the beholder. I can think I have the most amazing art and not sell anything. Vincent van Gogh didn't sell anything until he was dead!

"I think people are attracted by colours, or something that reminds them of something. I just dive into the art and learn every day. If I tried to create something to sell it, it would feel like a chore."

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