For over a decade, Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andrew Saur, have pioneered an art movement by creating fine art using coffee as the medium, Coffee Art®. Together, they developed a process and technique of painting with coffee. People have been using coffee as washes for sketches and other shading for some time, but this is one of the first times where a process is used to gain very dark hues. They concentrate on creating fine art and the communication of their works using this new medium. This artwork has been displayed in both traditional and nontraditional exhibitions. Their artwork has also been employed for special events and product launches for corporations large and small such as Alakef Coffee Roasters, Starbucks and Hershey’s.
Coffee is a universal beverage, consumed on every continent. With this in mind, they envision capturing people’s imaginations by creating fine art out of something ordinary, like a person’s morning coffee. Painting with coffee is taking art to its most basic form. Coffee, water, canvas and a brush – those physical elements and the conceptualization and talent transform a blank canvas into a work of art. Painting with coffee is a challenge. It is much like the process in the Renaissance where the artists had to create their own pigments before they could even lay a brush stroke onto the canvas. They have developed a special process to create rich boldness with the coffee. It is 100% pure coffee and the refining technique has been developed over the past ten years. When painting with the coffee, there are attributes that closely resemble acrylics and other characteristics of those found in watercolor. The blending of these features make this medium unique. Subjects cover a wide spectrum from conceptual to portraits to coffee themes and more.
Initially the focus was on the creation of coffee art sold in coffee shops in the United States. They have created a medium of incredible originality. Their work has received international acclaim and has been in shows in Finland, Greece, Italy, as well as American embassies. It has been written about in Australia, Belgium, Malawi, Italy, India, Taiwan, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Philippines, Russia, and of course the United States. They have been the subject of television programs including the Food Network in the United States and Kahvilla, on YLE in Finland, plus local radio and television stations from Minnesota to New York.
Their artwork has received global attention and has attracted a strong following. In October 2009, they were invited by the Accademia Italiana Maestri del Caffè (AICAF) to demonstrate their painting technique at the HOST Expo, the largest hospitality expo in the world. They wanted to add a cultural art element to the expo. At this event, thousands of people from all parts of the world viewed the creation of their paintings with admiration and wonder. In January 2010, they were invited to Athens to demonstrate their Coffee Art® at the Ho.Re.Ca Expo. Their works and this universal medium created connection with each individual.
They have been involved with the Art in Embassies Program since 2003, when they recruited as participants in an exhibition of American art at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador in Lilongwe, Malawi. They have since participated in a second and third embassy exhibition in Lilongwe. Because their art is directly related to coffee (being made from coffee itself), and because of the importance of the coffee industry in Malawi, their paintings fit beautifully into the agricultural themes of the exhibitions.
Another unique aspect in creating coffee paintings is that they developed this art movement together and continue to work on evolving these paintings. Being husband and wife, they say it is a great experience to work together on idea generation, creative development and executing the final work of art. They work quite well together, each bringing own style and technique to the canvas. Creating fine work at this level together is not only an achievement in itself, but working with the person they love makes the final work of art all that more special. Two signatures on the canvas is a rare feat in the art world. Since coffee is a universal drink, people from all different cultures would appreciate the creativity and results of fine art created with coffee. This artform can easily translate into many languages. People around the world drink coffee. When they dip their brushes into a cup coffee and paint onto the canvas, their art transcends languages, continents and cultures.
Angel has been a lifelong artist and graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a degree Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. Andrew is proud to have graduated at the top of his class from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a degree in Graphic Design. He received Departmental Honors, Magna cum Laude status and was recognized on the Dean’s List ten times while earning his degree.As a creative team, they have reinvented coffee as a painting medium - it's not just an added gimmick, but rather a full-fledged commitment to a complete exploration of the medium's potential. Coffee Art® has grown into a comprehensive and professional studio practice shaped by their combined talents. Along the way, Coffee Art® has garnered critical and popular acclaim, generating interest from a wide range of sources, and generating international invitations to show and discuss their work.