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Coffee Paintings by Mary McAuslin


By Nancy Brannon
Print “Mothers Day” by Mary McAuslin is done with coffee.

Bird-dog enthusiast Mary McAuslin loves to paint bird dogs and horses. She moved to Hickory Valley, TN in 2005 after retiring from the U.S. Postal Service. This gave her an opportunity to pursue her childhood passion of drawing and painting animals.

She joined the Middleton, TN Art League, where she discovered she could best “express herself in watercolor.” She studied with renowned watercolor painter Mary Spellings of Mercer, TN and quickly developed her talents. When the Art League hosted a program with Catherine Armstrong, McAuslin learned how to paint with coffee. She did a couple of single paintings at the workshop, then afterward further expanded her craft. One result it the featured print, “Mothers Day.”

The painting is done with instant coffee - “not decaffeinated,” she added. “I use one batch of coffee, microwave it with water and make it very thick. I start with the thick liquid in the middle of my paint palette, then make a variety of tones. I put the light tones on first and then build up the darker tones. It’s like a stain,” she explained. Her other coffee paintings include one of pansies, magnolia blossoms, and a bird dog. “It’s a very popular medium,” she said.

She has three horses at home, two of whom are Quarter Horses she brought from Oregon. She has since purchased a black Tennessee Walking Horse, named Elvis. “He rocks and rolls! He has a great gait!” She has had horses since she was a small child. She got her first horse, Jewel, when she was ten years old.

“So it just stands to reason that my favorite subjects are horses and dogs, especially after getting to know some of the handlers, scouts, and photographers involved in the sport of Field Trialing.” She was on hand for the National Championship, held in mid-February at the Ames Plantation and then attended the 2012 AKC Pointing Breed Gun Dog Championship, held at Ames beginning February 27.

One of her favorite and most recent paintings hanging in her home is “Heart’s Spirit,” which is a tribute to her beloved Appaloosa “Heart,” who died last year. “It is a magical piece, as it has several paintings of things within the painting that I didn’t realize were there until I finished it.” Heart’s Spirit is done in driftwood, in various colors and there are various pictures in the driftwood.

Her paintings are often inspired by photographs, especially those from photographers Vera Courtney and Geneen O’Bryan. Her painting “After the Brace at Ames” won Best of Show in 2009 at the Tennessee River Art Show in Savannah, TN, People’s Choice at the Southern Expressions Art Show in Bolivar, TN, and Honorable Mention at the FFF Art Show in Middleton, TN. Her wish as an artist is to continue to paint successfully that which “speaks to me and touches my heart.”

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