This lovely bison art uses an unexpected supply to create rich color and unique texture: coffee! In addition to a cultural introduction to the Great Plains, this project is a fantastic way to experiment with the use of natural art supplies, mark-making, and lessons in landscapes.
To make your own coffee ground bison art you’ll need:
- Cardstock, watercolor, or a similar heavy paper
- Construction paper in different colors
- Coffee Grounds
- Acrylic or tempera paints and a paintbrush
- A glue stick or craft glue
- Our Printable Bison Template Set PDF
- A palette knife or plastic card to add texture
- Charcoal or a brown/black chalk pastel.
Coffee Ground Bison Art Instructions:
- Print and cut out our bison template or draw your own
Download, print and cut out a bison from our printable bison art template set. You can also draw your own bison!
- Paint your bison with coffee grounds
Brush your bison with wet coffee grounds (add just enough water that it makes them wet – a little soupy, but not like actual coffee) until the template is completely covered. Set the back half of your bison aside, while you continue to add layers of brushed-on coffee grounds to the front half. Keep adding layers until there is a nice contrast between the two halves of your bison (this gives the front a nice thick, furry look!). Set your bison aside to dry.
- Use torn paper to create a landscape
For the background landscape, I used one large piece of blue cardstock as the background, and 2 torn scraps of paper to create our landscape layers on top. This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss background, mid-ground, and foreground. How do things look the further away we get from them? How do we create them in art? Which layers should include the most detail?
To create a snow-covered mountain range, I dotted the blue background paper with a line of small white paint circles and then used an old plastic rewards card to scrape the paint. While dragging the card, I pushed it up and down as I crossed the paper, to create an uneven line of jagged mountain shapes.
For the field of long green grass, I simply used a scrap of green paper that had been torn in half (horizontally).
For the dry yellow grass in the foreground, I started with a scrap of torn yellow paper. I painted a thick layer of darker yellow-orange paint on, then used a painting technique called sgraffito to create the illusion of dry grass. Sgraffito is one of my favorite ways to create textures (especially if you’re trying to do grasses!). Simply scratch lines or patterns into the wet paint using the back of your paintbrush, a palette knife, or a similar tool.
- Glue your torn paper landscape layers down to create the background
Once the paint on each of your layers has dried, glue them down on top of each other.
- Add your bison to the landscape
Gently tap your buffalo to brush off any excess coffee grounds, then use a glue stick to add your bison.
- Add details
You can finish this up by drawing a little tail on and adding other details (like the sun we included) to your landscape. We used charcoal to smudge in a couple of areas of dark shadows to our bison as well!
For more fun art & play activities using kitchen supplies take a peek at our kids constellation art project, or visit this BIG collection of our favorite hands-on kitchen tools and activities for little ones!
Loving the art exploration opportunities? Summer is the perfect season to try our scrap supply pool art, make a set of scrape-painted surfboards, or incorporate a little movement with a kinetic paper playground art invitation.