Karen Eland at her studio in Bend, Ore.

Karen Eland at her studio in Bend, Ore.

Courtesy of Karen Eland (beerpainter.com)

Artist Karen Eland is not your average beer aficionado.

About 10 years ago, the Oklahoma native made the move to Bend, Ore., which is known for having the most breweries per capita in America, and began channeling her appreciation for a cold brew into works of art – by using beer as a medium.

Eland began her artistic career by painting with watercolors, but curiosity led her to more unconventional methods. In 1998, she dipped her paint brush into coffee.

"I liked the pretty red-brown espresso I had, and wondered if since it stains things, maybe it could be a paint," says Eland. 

"It worked so well that I kept going, and eventually, to my surprise, had a career in coffee painting."

Shortly after moving to Oregon, Eland experimented once more, but this time with beer. Dark beers like stouts and porters worked best.

"It’s so simple, I just open a dark beer, take a quick taste and then dump it into a bowl. I paint in layers to get the darkest areas, and add water to do the light areas," says Eland. "And depending on the complexity of the shading and size of the piece, it takes anywhere from an hour to several weeks."

See a few of her works:

Eland’s inspirations for her works vary from classical to historical scenes of people and nature that typically stem from beer brewing, such as whimsical images of barley, wheat and hops plants. She is also fond of tweaking famous masterpieces by adding her signature touch – a beer in hand – turning Rodin’s "The Thinker" into "The Drinker."

At Eland’s studio, customers have the opportunity to watch her work. They can also try their hand at beer painting with her Sip 'n' Dip classes, which are similar to Painting With a Twist classes except students get to drink the "paint."

Eland has shown her work in numerous breweries in Oregon and as far away as London, where she was commissioned by an English ad agency to do some work for Guinness. She also sells her work on her Etsy shop, Beer Painter.

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Eland's work isn’t all beer and coffee, however. The artist is currently working with a friend on a charming side project called Flor&Fawn, where she expresses a different side of her creativity.

"It’s in color! Which sometimes I miss with all the coffee and beer painting," Eland says.

Interested in getting your hands on one of your very own, one-of-a-kind beer painting? Eland also does commissioned work; just contact her at her website or her Etsy shop.

Miranda Zsigmond is California transplant with a zest for Texas living, a beer drinker, thrift store lover, and urban adventurer trying to find her place at the grown-up table of life.

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