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Creating unique works with coffee - My Take by hearing impaired artist Amita Dutta

Like many of us Amita Dutta is hooked to caffeine. However, her addiction is not the way you imagine! In My Take this week, Amita, who is a deaf painter, talks about how she weaves coffee into her art.

I discovered the art of coffee painting while doing a two-year course in art and craft. It was taught on a very casual basis, but I was fascinated by the rarity and the unusual medium. I decided to take it up seriously.

When I saw the final result, I was taken aback. The first person to see my coffee paintings was my mother-in-law, Deep, and her jaw dropped. I knew then that I had found my passion. In fact I quit the art and craft program after a year to take up coffee painting full-time. I too became a coffee addict, but in a different way!

I was able to devote a fair amount of time to refining my skill it as my kids were going to school. My mother-in-law also encouraged me to develop it further by including other forms of art. I had very little idea of its business potential. It took me some time to understand it's viability in the market. I actually realized its worth when I saw the response to my first show and sale. It was like a dream come true.

Innovative use of coffee with other materials

My first show was a success thanks to the support from my in-laws. At my first show, my father-in-law was standing through the day at the fair explaining my work to people. This support has encouraged me to work on my art.

At every fair, I would observe people's responses and this gave me ideas about how to innovate. I add glass colours to give colour and vibrancy to my paintings. The final melamine coating makes them durable. All these touches take the coffee paintings to another level. It is a unique approach. One that is different from what is taught in mainstream classes.

Wide ranging themes of art

There are some limitations when it comes to painting with coffee. It is a very demanding form. Like the outlines have to be clear and de-marked. Sometimes it is needs to be redone on computer. I explore a wide range of themes like nursery to spirituality. I also get my ideas from film posters, a Ganesh idol or the tree of life.

I hold displays on festive occasions like Diwali and Durga Puja. I have also exhibited my paintings at coffee festivals, the India International Trade Fair, just to name few. My biggest moment was winning the National Award in 2012 in the hearing impaired category. The following year, she won the National Award for Best Self-Employed with Disability.

Most of all I love the reactions I get when people find out I paint with coffee. They are shocked, amazed and mesmerized. Some people even start smelling the paintings! The most amusing comment came from the head of the India International Coffee Festival in 2011. He said that up until now he thought people were only drinking his coffee. He never realized that their coffee could be eye catching too!

I love it when people stop by my stalls and call my paintings "happy". Even if they don't buy, so many people stop by and admire with beautiful remarks. That gives me satisfaction.

We have customers from all strata of society, like government officials, businessmen, teachers, and interior decorators. Many foreigners are regular customers too. The beautician, Shenaaz Hussain, bought seven paintings and expressed so much admiration.

The list is endless and rich as head towards completing our 10-year journey in December 2018.

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