Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Art and Coffee Cups

I am a painter living in New York City. Oil paint and canvas are my primary media but I also make videos and I draw rather compulsively on a wide variety of surfaces.

My drawing surface of choice since 2007 is the cardboard coffee cup. The slightly off-white, matte surface of a sturdy unadorned cardboard cup takes beautifully the jet-black India ink of my Rotring art pen and the earthy permanent colors of the Faber and Castelli brush pens that I favor.

This coffee cup thing started at my part-time job three or four years ago when Styrofoam coffee cups were gone, replaced by these pristine white cardboard cups. Am idle moment, a sharpened #2 pencil  and the obsession was born.

A stint of jury duty in the City some months later led to the elaboration of my technique with art pen and brush pens. I now save the cups from the drinks I buy and occasionally collect them from other artists with whom I meet for tea or coffee around town. I wash and dry them and record on the bottom the date, place and occasion, as well as the drink that was consumed, thus capturing the social moment just passed.

White cups are still my preference, but my eyes have been opened to the possibilities of colored surfaces and odd printed designs that I alter with ink drawing or sometimes paint over with gouache or oils, letting the cup color show through the finished piece.

In this blog I am documenting the intersection of art-making and art-seeing, daily life in New York City and cardboard coffee cups. I am especially interested in where to get a great cup of tea or coffee around town and include info about independent coffee shops, coffee bars and tea rooms. In a recession when a lot of my favorite small haunts are struggling I want to get the word out, so you won’t be hearing much about Starbucks here, but about places like Empire Tea and Coffee on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, Royale and Ciao for Now on 10th Street and 6th Avenue in the Village, Ferrera in Central Park at Columbus Circles and other excellent places to grab a caffeine in a cardboard cup and be on the go.

Cup of the Day : Gwyneth Leech
India ink on white cardboard cups
Drawn at Artists Meeting, NYC
 2008 and 2009
Size small


  1. Love the idea of you doing these cups - are you selling them - if so I suggest you post prices. I like your blog very much. I look forward to more insights and chat

  2. wonderful blog, i am also a daily practice person

  3. marthabeth@verizon.netMarch 25, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    Gwyneth - I love these cups, visually and also as the capturing of a social moment, spreading the good word about cafes byond Starbucks. a great conception! Martha