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Artist Recreates Classic Portraits with Coffee

What if Mona Lisa’s smile glittered were fueled by cappuccinos? Artist Karen Eland is giving new definition to the term “latte art” in her illustrations, which celebrate the caffeinated beverage as both the medium and the message: she creates reproductions of classic paintings using a mix of coffee and water.

Eland’s joined passions for coffee and art are both deeply steeped. At age 14, she took a portrait class that encouraged her to pursue art as a profession, and she exercised drawing at New Orleans’ Kaldi’s Coffeehouse in the early years of her career.

She ultimately began wielding the drink as a material in 1998. She was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time, and the gorgeous tint of espresso at the local favorite Nordaggio’s Coffee attracted her attention. Today, she’s based in Bend, Oregon, where the high quantity of breweries has inspired her to begin painting with beer as well—but first, coffee, as they say.

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