BENGALURU: The sight of spilt coffee might be irksome to most people but a mobile company employee who moonlights as an artist uses decoction to paint with.
“Coffee is not merely a beverage for the body but also for the mind,” says Dheeraj Gadicharla, whose tryst with this art form began with a portrait for a coffee-connoisseur friend.
An avid biker and backpacker, he picks up coffee from places he travels to, he says.
“I begin with the darker shades, and since these are monochromatic paintings, light-play is very important,” he continues. “Sometimes, I let the decoction sit for a week before I use it. I also sprinkle and dust off instant coffee powder to add texture — perhaps to a beard.”
Different beans give different textures. “For example, no matter how long you let it rest, Kumbakonam degree coffee will not thicken much,” he offers.
So far, orders from India have been mainly portraits, including those of two musicians -- the celebrated Carnatic vocalist M S Subbulakshmi, the first to be sold, and the Jamaican reggae singer-guitarist Bob Marley.
“The orders I get from abroad are more varied,” he says. “I got one from a UK-based company that sells Matcha tea -- a type of green tea. They asked me to paint their logo using it.”
The canvas is varnished before he begins streaking it with his brush. “This helps the coffee decoction to settle for background,” he explains.
Once painted on, the coffee takes about a day to dry. The sketching and painting that follows can take up to five hours. “But it has to be allowed to dry over a week,” says Dheeraj.
Initially, he experimented with a paper, he recalls. “And I’m still trying to find a niche, experimenting with other media as well,” he says.
He has used dark rum for one portrait. “I needed half a litre of Old Monk for it, and it still isn’t very dark,” Dheeraj says. “I’ve also used beer from time to time.”
This apart, he and his fiance have covered a few walls of her house with zentangle patterns in acrylic. He also works with city-based children of NGOs and schools, teaching them art.
Dheeraj says he draws inspiration from animals and all forms of nature around him. “I click a lot of pictures when I travel,” he says. “I do not believe in external inspiration. I only believe in myself.”