How much coffee does it take to complete a painting?

Most of my coffee realism paintings contain between 9 to 12 cups of coffee, where as, my abstract paintings contain 60, 90 and sometimes even 150 cups of brewed coffee! 

How long have you been painting with Coffee?

I have been painting with coffee since the fall of 2008

There is such High Contrast in your Coffee Paintings, do you ever use a Frisket or Mask to keep the white areas white?

The quick answer is "no". One of the long time traditional tools of watercolor painters is "frisket" or "masking"...  And, long ago I occasionally used rubber cement or a commercial latex frisket to protect small or thin areas of my paintings. (A watercolorist applies these types of "masks", paint the painting and remove the masking material to reveal the "once more" white paper.) However, I found that using a mask,  produced what I felt, was too "harsh" of an edge. Therefore, I no longer use masking techniques, but instead, more carefully plan my painting and carefully paint around any white highlights I want to remain. This provides a "softer" edge and more character. 

Most of the paintings are not behind glass, how are they protected?

Some of my earlier paintings are actually framed behind glass.  However,  as I continued to develop my technique, one of the aspects I wanted to enhance was the painting's final display. Placing the painting behind glass is a current traditional way of displaying watercolors, yet, it's difficult, even with gallery level lighting,  to ensure that the viewer will not deal with glare or undesired reflections.  In addition, my originals take on an almost "leather" texture and depth due to the multiple layers of coffee.  This texture was difficult to fully appreciate when the original was displayed behind glass.  Therefore, I began an in depth and scientific search as to how and what the "Old Masters" used to protect their work.  As a result, I was able to develop an archival process of sealing my paintings in multiple layers of non-water base coatings along with a final UV protective surface.  The process completely seals the original and allows for routine dusting with a soft cloth, but most importantly, permits the viewer to get right up on the painting and view the texture. The coatings are fully "Archival" and could be removed and reapplied by a skilled conservationist in much the same manner as is performed on original oil paintings. 

Bottom line: All my coffee paintings have the stability and preservation factors of tried and true oil paintings.

Do you sketch on the watercolor paper before painting?

Yes and No. It depends on the type of painting I am working on. If I am working on what I call an "organic" subject, such as a floral, texture, seascape or landscape I do very little sketching on the watercolor paper. It may be a few lines or quick shapes to establish the composition but I let the rest of the painting happen naturally by water and pigment flow in conjunction with my vision for the final image. However, if I am working on a complex architectural or chroma (metal or reflection) piece, I do a pretty detailed sketch on the watercolor paper itself. Working in watercolor is in many ways less forgiving than oils, once I put down a tone, I may be able to lighten it somewhat, but I will never be able to get back to a highlight, so i need to know where those highlights are truly going to be so I can carefully paint the tones around them. Note: This is one of the reasons I have 4 or 5 paintings in the works at a time. I usually have a few loose organic styled WIP's (Works In Process) as well as, a few with more strict details to facilitate what painting mood I'm in.

Do you work "Plein Air" or from a sketch or photo?

Wikipedia states: En plein air (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃ plɛn ɛʁ]) is a French expression which means "in the open air" and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called peinture sur le motif ("painting of the object(s) or what the eye actually sees") in French.

I have painted a few painting "En Plein Air" however, they do not typically represent my more detailed style that requires much more time than a single outdoor session provides not to mention that most of my paintings will have in many places five or six layers of color.  I will say, that I love painting outside and do so quite often at a coffee shop, at the beach or at a special event.  As far as working from what I see... I usually sketch a quick composition sketch in my moleskin, along with detail sketches of anything I might not be familiar with if time allows.  However, most of the time, I am laying in the road, or in some very awkward position and may only be able to get a quick sketch and then take a few photos that I will put on my mobile device and use as reference later as I do the final sketch or paint.

What brands of coffee have you used in your Dark Roast Paintings?

I have painted with the following coffee's (in alphabetical order)
Barnie's Coffee & Tea ®, Douwe Egberts, Dunkin Donuts ®, Folgers ®, Jayell's Coffee Company, Peet's Coffee ®, cafe' PILONSeattle's Best ®, Starbucks ® , THRIVE Farmers

Would you consider painting with private custom roast coffees?

I am always looking for new coffees to try, not only in my cup but also on the paper.
And would welcome other coffee companies to contact me about working with their products. 

Read the interview with Steven Mikel on here:


Where can I see some of Steven's original Coffee paintings:

Barnie's Coffee Kitchen

Winter Park
118 South Park Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789


Noir Cafe'

Downtown Orlando
CityArts Factory, 29 S Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32801


Kessler Grand Bohemian Galleries

Grand Bohemian Gallery, Orlando, Florida
325 South Orange Ave. 
Orlando, FL 32801


Grand Bohemian Gallery, Celebration, Florida
700 Bloom St.
Celebration, FL 34747


Grand Bohemian Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina
11 Boston Way
Asheville, NC 28803


Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia
700 Drayton Street
Savannah, GA 31401


Grand Bohemian Galley, Casa Monica Hotel, St Augustine, Florida
53 King Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084

How are the paintings Framed?

The original sealed painting is mounted to a sturdy panel and framed with a high-quality wooden frame. Most of the original paintings have a coffee accent border around the image area which provides a natural matte.

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