Spilled Coffee as Art

What is a happy accident? It could be a moment of Eureka when you realize that you can make a beautiful work of art from a mistake. There are many art lesson plans for students to problem solve around a “mistake.” In this case, a perfect example would be spilled coffee.

When you splash coffee onto watercolor paper, many patterns and images are seeped through the paper – like clouds in the sky. When you present this image to students, images begin to appear and they have a starting point to create and finish a work of art.

This lesson plan represses the anxiety of the “blank canvas”, and students may use sharpies, markers, and color pencils to layer over the translucent image made up of spilled coffee to create a work of art.

After reading an article by Olivia Gude from the Art Education Journal for class, undergraduates in Intro to Art Education tested this lesson–inspired by the article–in class this past week.  They were thrilled with the results (and the smell of coffee on the page) and began plotting ways to use this in their own future classes.

Have fun spilling coffee!

By Brenda Zamora
CCNY Adjunct Lecturer

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