Scott Rolfe’s Coffee-Tinged Art

September 30, 2013

By Ms. CocoaJava

"Compound Interest" with Grounds - Art and Photo by Scott Rolfe

“Compound Interest” with Grounds – Art and Photo by Scott Rolfe

Scott Rolfe is an artist based in Austin, Texas. He works with all sorts of media, such as illustration, assemblage, mixed media, digital art, and graphic design. If a new form of art suddenly comes into existence, I’m confident Scott will take it on.

Ms. CocoaJava is the delighted owner of a copy of Assemblage, a book of Aesop’s Fables illustrated through photographs of assemblage art Scott created just for the stories. I also have a calendar featuring Scott’s art.

Scott sees our discarded, broken objects as unique ingredients for his artistic recipes. He especially loves to create animals, but there truly are no limits to his imagination.

Recently, Scott mentioned that he uses coffee grounds to color some of the elements in his artwork.  Of course I approved of this, but was also delighted to have an excuse to introduce readers of this website to this talented artist who I am also lucky enough to call my friend.

And now… meet Scott!

CocoaJava: Your current series uses old mailbox doors as their base. Tell us about the ideas that ran through your mind when you first discovered this treasure trove of discarded objects.

Scott: My girlfriend is an avid thrifter. She came upon these at an estate sale and gave me a call to ask if I could use them. At the time, I didn’t know what they could be used for, but for assemblagists, if you ever come upon lots of items that are all the same, you snag ’em. You never know when you might find them again.

Once procured, they seemed like an ideal candidate for little shadow boxes, so I started thinking about how they would come together. The hardest part was figuring out how to attach the mailbox to the frames, and then attach all that to the plywood backing.  It took a couple tries, but now I have a system that works 95% of the time.

CocoaJava: We at CocoaJava can’t help but applaud your decision to use coffee grounds to color your art. Is this the first time you’ve used this technique? What made you think of doing this?

Scott: The first time I heard about using coffee grounds was back in an art class in college.  During a class critique, the professor thought my work was too pristine, and suggested roughing it up with coffee grounds. At the time, I was not a coffee drinker, and used some other method. Since then, coffee has become a part of my life, but it was only working on these that the idea came back to me. The math tables in “Compound Interest” seemed too clean, and remembering that technique, got to work.

Now I have a Mocha Express Coffee Maker and most days have some grounds sitting in it. I took some from it, and smeared the paper with them. The great thing about coffee grounds versus acrylic paint is that the stain they leave is not as opaque. Therefore it creates an aged effect without losing the details of the text on the paper. So far, a French Blend stains well, while the Indonesian and Guatemalan blends tend to not do much.

Grabs You Away - Incomplete

“Grabs You Away” (Before Coffee) Art and Photo by Scott Rolfe


Grabs You Away - Completed

“Grabs You Away” (After Coffee) Art and Photo by Scott Rolfe

CocoaJava: Eventually all those Keurig coffee machines everyone (including me) uses will break down and become discarded household appliances.  Does this notion stir anything in you?

Scott: It so happens there is a drawer in my studio devoted to kitchen goods such as measuring cups and spoons, jello molds, and, you got it, coffee filters! While I can’t recall the exact pieces, I know there are coffee filters in some of the art, probably as suns or moons.

CocoaJava: What was the first bit of scrap you turned into art?

Scott: That would have to be back in college. I combined a corncob pipe with some industrial pipe, and had some springs coming out of it. Very Magritte.

CocoaJava: Your turn. What question would you like to ask CocoaJava?

Scott: Which artist or artist movement do you associate most when you think “Coffee”?

CocoaJava:  Well! Various artists come to mind. Most of them have painted coffee shops, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night. But my strongest association would definitely be  Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting, Night Hawks. 

Nighthawks, c.1942 - Buy at

Nighthawks, c.1942 – Buy at

 If you wish to keep up with Scott and his art, you can find him at these sites on the web.

Scott’s Personal Website: Rusty Crocodiles

Scott Rolfe Art: Facebook page

Buy Scott’s Art: Rusty Crocodiles Etsy Shop 

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