Tea-Stained Painting Techniques

Written by lauren vork
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Tea-Stained Painting Techniques
Tea, though primarily a beverage, is frequently used as an inexpensive staining material. (Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

In the world of art, tea is not just a beverage, it's a medium. Various styles of tea staining are often used in painting as a means of creating colours and textures with colours and levels of opacity that paint can't create on its own. These techniques are used for special effects, artistic textures and even as sources of offbeat artistic inspiration. Learn a few common tea techniques to incorporate into your next painting.

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Soaking

Tea soaking is performed on a blank canvas, blank paper page, or even a finished painting, to give it the appearance of being many years older than it is. After soaking the page in tea, the white canvas will have a slight yellowish-brown tinge just like the colour of natural ageing. If using on a finished painting, use only with paints that are waterproof, such as acrylic and oils; the process will destroy watercolours.

Edging

Edging is an effect performed with very strong tea. When brushed around the edges of a piece of paper, strong, black tea will create a visual effect very similar to the appearance of scorching, but without the soot and fragility of real burning. This is good for special effects items, such as paper props, or invitations to fantasy-themed parties.

Background

A tea-painted background is similar to a soaking, except that it is applied using a large brush rather than by soaking the entire page or canvas. The result is that the tea will have a blotchy, textured application with variance in the depth of colour, rather than a uniform shade.

Tea Color

Use tea to add light colour and depth to a black-and-white line drawing. After finishing a basic ink or pencil line drawing, fill in some of the objects with blotchy tea colour. The result brings subtle dimension and texture to the image. Alternately, leave the objects in the drawing white and tea paint the background around them. Make a very strong tea, or let a cup of tea evaporate for a couple days before using it for added depth of colour.

Tea Stain Abstract

Tea stain abstracts are an art project using tea stains as inspiration. To create tea stain art, spill or splash some tea onto part of a canvas and let it dry. After it dries, look at the shape of the spills on the page and turn them into an abstract or recognisable image, depending on what you think the spills look like.

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