Lofty Thoughts of Coffee

Lofty Thoughts of Coffee. Watercolor by Niya Christine. Copyright

#31/365 Paintings

The last painting for January’s theme: Coffee & Tea.

It takes some mad skills to hold up a long legged bird with a coffee cup on it’s head while she misses her morning coffee. My goodness! I hope her day improves.

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t allowed coffee for health reasons. My best friend and I did coffee walks. This entailed sitting in Peet’s and smelling the coffee to somehow satisfy the urge. I’d like to tell you this worked, but it was absolutely miserable. My friend was very refined about it all. She could name the coffee flavors as they went into the cups. “Kona?” She’d say. Dizzy with stubborn anxiety I didn’t hear understand the question.

The next health practitioner I visited said to me, “You are one of those people coffee is actually good for.” I didn’t walk, I ran to the coffee grinder and never tried to get healthy in that way again.

Reusable Tea Bags

Watercolor by Niya Christine. Copyright

#30/365 Paintings

Her family loved tea. All kinds of tea: Ceylon, Jasmine, Green Tea, Blue Tea, Camomile, Chai Tea. At first she hung out the bags on the line because she wanted to squeeze out every last drop of flavor in the leaves and conserve their bank account. Tea wasn’t cheap and the extra special teas had to be ordered. She stopped re-using the tea bags when her husband got ill. They lived in Indiana so it could have been from a number of pathogen carrying insects. “Kind of gross” her daughter said.

But she loved hanging those bags. The way they dangled on the line like Christmas ornaments. The soft sounds had comforted her through the years. She didn’t want to stop. She decided to dry them, empty them of their herbs, dye them and sew them together in gauzy sheets. She then made dresses that billowed up like storm clouds. Soon the theatre company asked her to design and sew costumes for the stage. These days she is the one being served tea as she creates stunning, dramatic tea bag sourced costumes for the stage.

Guilty Dog Spilled the Beans

Guilty Dog Spilled the Beans. Painting by Niya Christine. Copyright

#29/365 Paintings

Hmmm, I dunno… does he look guilty enough? And do you think this is all the damage this puppy caused? I think he has the blushing red-I’m a bad bad boy-I’ll never do it again-look, down pat. I think he’s new to the family. After spending too many mornings waiting for his puppy chow because his posh parents had to grind their coffee to a fine espresso powder for cappuccino, he’s a bit jealous. In fact, it’s worse than that. I think he has those beans hopping in fright at night while the household sleeps. His growls and puppy threats might make us laugh. But for the beans, this guy is a monster.

So, before making that lush cup of coffee, give your puppy a cuddle and some chow. Less beans spilled in the long run.


Project notes: Radio interview Tuesday night. KSVY Bay Area about the what’s, why’s and how’s of painting daily.

Details: Tune in Tonight for an Hour of Coffee Talk with Fiction Writer & Painter “Niya Christine” ( Plus Enjoy a Mix of Hot Music from Black Artists.. James Brown, Louie Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr. & More!!!

Streaming Live Online from (7pm to 8pm)–Sonoma Sun FM “Some Like it Hot!” Radio Show ~ Hosted by Diana Dawn


Espresso in Italy

Espresso in Italy, Watercolor by Niya Christine. Copyright

#28/365 Paintings

This is a painting of a photograph by Nina Hansen Machotka’s blog “A Writer in Umbria.” This is their espresso maker in Umbria, Italy. I’m dedicating this post painting to Nina and her husband Pavel. It’s a small thank you for the inspiration they have given me over the years.

Nina has written some amazing books, including The Field Stone’s of Umbria that describes their adventure renovating an old farmhouse in Umbria, having relocated from the States. Wonderful book. I loved every second of it. Nina was interviewed in Italian ReflectionsIt’s a very fun and insightful interview about the x-pat journey.  Pavel was my professor as an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz. He held the chair of the psychology department and founded the aesthetics of psychology. I sought to fuse my passion for psychology and art into one. His classes were my doorway. Pavel paints gorgeous paintings and is a Cezanne expert. We also painted together some weekends. I remember him as a mentor of patience in painting. I was never one for patience. He made it look as good as banana cream pie.

They lead passionate, adventurous, yet peaceful lives—a couple of the best people I know. I hope to visit them this summer in Umbria. In the meantime, check out their work. Nina’s blog is delightful to subscribe to.

Keeping the Balance

"Keeping the Balance" Watercolor by Niya Christine. Copyright

#27/365 Paintings 2013

Sometimes having a small cute animal between yourself and a cup of coffee is not only smart but looks cute too!

On the other hand, if that’s actually a frog on her head vs. a bunny, it might not appreciate a hot steaming cup of coffee on it’s delicate amphibian body.

Project Notes: Have you noticed my paintings and stories are getting more and more out there? I think it’s because I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel on painting ideas about coffee and tea. It’s a good thing I just have 4 more to go… (Feb. is going to be fun).

Essence of Evening Primrose

Watercolor by Niya Sisk. Evening Primrose. Copyright

#26/365 Paintings 2013

Have you ever wondered what evening primrose flowers and teacups do at night when we aren’t looking? They aren’t sharing corn dogs at a carnival or taking Budweiser baths in a mosh pit. Nope, they are in their true nature under the moonlight doing the work of flavor enrichment. So the next time you drink a cup of evening primrose tea you will have the behinds the scenes view of the flower and cup in their birthday suits — making our tea extra-special-yummy!

Bees Gone Bad


"Bees Gone Bad" Gouache + Digital by Niya Christine. Copyright


Generally, bees are true blue honey workers. But every so often one or two go astray and indulge in the bean for that ‘extra’ buzz. Beans aren’t known for their balanced approach to life. It’s an understatement to say that they get obsessed. Now, the queen bee knows she’s making a fool of them. But she’s too far along in drinking the kool-aide (coffee) herself to do anything constructive for the colony.

We might shake our heads sadly for the bees. But how unhappy could they be? They are buzzed, working hard to bring in the beans and keeping their queen very happy.


Project notes: The ingredients of this painting are: Gouache, watercolor, digital manipulation and Balkan Beat Box Music to keep me ‘buzzin.’ Thanks for lookin at another version of the secret lives of bees.