Tea Bag Paintings by Ruby Silvious

Some reflect on and record their daily lives in journals, New York-based visual artist and graphic designer Ruby Silvious takes a unique approach by documenting her life on used tea bags. What started out as a year-long personal project to paint a daily record on tea bags in 2015 has now become an international career where Silvious exhibits her detailed and dainty watercolour paintings around the world. With an interest in challenging the traditions in art, Silvious chose to turn her tea consumption into a new medium of self-expression. Her miniature works of art are usually inspired by mundane activities, new experiences, and international travels. With paintings of quiet spectators at museums, people walking down snowy streets, and peaceful snapshots of nature, Silvious captures the moments we miss or take for granted. 

Teabags are not the only fragile canvas Silvious has explored. She also uses eggshells, spools, and paper mache as a canvas, establishing a delicate ease and gentle atmosphere to her artistic vision. Her work is a reminder that every moment and memory should be handled with care and mindfulness. Having painted on teabags every day for over five years, Silvious’ craft has become a ritual that she shares with the internet. In 2016 she published her book 363 Days of Tea: A Visual Journal on Used Tea Bags and published another in 2019 titled Reclaimed Canvas, where she shows readers how to use everyday materials for art. With paint chips, paper bags, pistachio shells, and dried leaves as the proposed materials, Silvious proves that art has no bounds or limits. 

Silvious will be exhibiting her newest works in Germany (June 13 – August 15), France (Summer 2021), and Japan (2022). With her shows “The Art of Tea” and “Walking on Eggshells”, it will be interesting to see how perspectives on the everyday are shaped by the routines and outlooks of living in a pandemic.