I love crafting with tea, and never tire of designing new ways to incorporate tea into my crafts. I’m also interested in others who use tea in their creative arts. So I was very excited when artist Mary Pagón connected with me about two years ago. I immediately fell in love with her strikingly colourful tea paintings.

I particularly like this tea painting by Mary Pagón. It’s titled "Suspence Wrapped in Sweetness." (Photo source: Mary Pagón)

I particularly like this tea painting by Mary Pagón. It’s titled “Suspence Wrapped in Sweetness.” (Photo source: Mary Pagón)

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Mary about her work:

How did you get started painting with tea?

My earliest memories of drawing and writing are when I was in elementary school. (I also write children’s stories, two of which have been published.) I grew up in a household of tea drinkers. Using tea as a medium in my paintings allows me to combine two things that I’m passionate about: drinking tea and painting.

I am a self-taught mixed-media artist and have been painting with tea for about six years. It took over a year and a half to master my technique, which I call TeaDimensionalArt.

What kinds of teas and paints do you use?

I work with acrylic paint on canvas, and prefer metallic paints because of the eye-catching shimmer and shine it gives my paintings. The teas I choose come from all over the world and from many vendors: matcha, oolong, jasmine, white tea, and green Moroccan mint amongst many others. I also use flavoured teas, and various herbal tisanes such as rooibos, peppermint, and tulsi. Green, white, oolong, black, herbals – all are excellent mediums.

How do you select which teas and tisanes you use?

I choose teas and herbals that inspire me, whether it’s the flavor, the smell, or the sound and texture of the tea when I’m crushing it between my fingertips. Sometimes I’m inspired just by the name of the tea. I steep up and taste many of the teas before I paint with them so they can “speak” to me; as a true tea lover, the teas have a lot to say to me! I listen intently and let the aromatic flavors pique my imagination.

Can you tell me about your technique?

The tea’s texture is what adds dimension to my paintings. Sometimes I use tea from teabags; at other times I’ll crush and grind whole tea leaves with a mortar and pestle before I add it to the paint. When mixed with acrylic paint, the tea builds layers and shapes on the canvas, and adds intensity and depth. Some teas, like fine powered matcha, can gently alter the color of the paint. And you can even smell the more aromatic teas on the canvas!

Is there anything else we should know?

The names for my paintings are inspired by the tea I’ve used, whether it’s the smell, flavor, or texture that moves me. Along with the works tea inspires me to create, I also take commissions. So if you have a favourite tea I can use it to create a custom painting that will inspire you too.

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