BENGALURU: As a third-year BDS student at MS Ramaiah Dental College, Dr Sai Prenathy found herself with some time on her hand. An artist since childhood, she was experimenting with various media when it suddenly struck her that coffee on canvas could be one. On an impulse, she turned to the kitchen, poured some coffee powder and began making a portrait. “It’s so strange that I should have thought of coffee for art since I absolutely hate the taste of coffee,” says the 26-year-old with a laugh.
But the portrait turned out surprisingly well and Prenathy knew she had found her second calling. “Honestly, I was never interested in working with water colours. Somehow, I have always liked shades of brown, which tend to give a rustic and vintage look. That’s probably what drew me to coffee art,” says the dentist, who went on to paint floral designs, landscapes and a picture of Buddha.
While she initially started working on this form of art as a stress-buster after college hours, post her marriage in 2017 she moved to a gated community in Whitefield where she felt she was ready to teach others. With residents showing interest to this novel idea, she began with workshops in her apartment. Soon, through word of mouth, Prenathy found herself getting requests to organise workshops across the city.
Today, her week is packed with six days spent at the clinic while Sunday is packed with coffee art workshops. As Prenathy says, the two go hand-in-hand with both requiring deft movements. “Both require a lot of focus and it’s all about how well you use your hands,” she says, adding that ethics too is something that is common to dentistry and art. “It’s about being adept at what you do and teaching/practising only when you are confident to put your work out there,” she says, pointing out that her personal challenge lies in marketing her work.
Materials are usually easy to come by, with the only requirements being an ordinary paint brush, canvas or paper (preferably 150 GSM textured paper) and, of course, coffee powder, the mixture of which (with water) needs to be uniform. For beginners, she feels canvas is an easier medium to start with owing to its ‘forgiving’ nature. “It’s easy to undo mistakes which is not the case with art on paper. Second, if you’re interested in layering your art work, that’s also possible on canvas,” she says, adding, “The strokes listen to you.”