I temporarily forgot how much I hate painting hands for this one. I just really loved the original photo, and spent ages messing with it in various apps until I’d simplified it down to just a few colours and tones.

Coffee collage {Tara Leaver}

original {made sepia} top left

I also liked the simple, almost abstract look of the image, and the weird scribbly texture I’d ended up with.

Coffee 1 {Tara Leaver}

One of the things I love about doing these paintings is starting with shapes. I get a feel for the layout and can just steam in with a light colour to map out what goes where in a very rough and ready way.

Coffee 2 {Tara Leaver}

A lot of it is experimentation; I’m not always sure what will work, and I might get an idea to blot out some of the colour to let what’s underneath come through {as above, bottom left of the photo}.

Coffee 3 {Tara Leaver}

I also squint a lot, as I’ve found that’s an excellent way to get an understanding of the tones. Thankfully I welcome laughter lines; people will probably think I’m wise when really I’ve just been scrunching up my face while painting.


As ever, it’s not intended to be a perfect rendering, although I did want some degree of accuracy so a viewer could actually get an idea of what they were looking at. It was interesting deciding where to put the smoother areas and working out how to create that mottled textured look, and how they make each other stand out.