Covid: Artist Jan Heath paints on tea bags in lockdown

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An artist who ran out of places to store her lockdown paintings has developed a thirst for a smaller canvas that is just her cup of tea.

Jan Heath, a retired teacher from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, paints miniature works of art on used teabags.

image copyrightJan Heath
image captionMrs Heath said she decided to "push the boat out" for her first painting using three teabags, called A Bit of Retro

"Initially it was through Covid, I was painting more and more and storing them in every orifice of the house and running out of space," she said.

While looking for inspiration online, Mrs Heath found a US artist using the technique and in early January brewed up her own ideas with herbal teabags.

image copyrightJan Heath
image captionMrs Heath has also painted teabag ingredients
image copyrightJan Heath
image captionThe artist printed To a Butterfly by William Wordsworth on to a teabag before painting a red admiral
image copyrightJan Heath
image captionWash Day and Three Ginger Cats were both inspired by the coloured labels

She found she "enjoyed the challenge" of using such a small surface - once the contents were removed - and has produced dozens of artworks since.

"The tea stains add to the background - some come out much darker, so you end up with an antique background," Mrs Heath added.

"I then paint according to the background colour that's already on the used teabags.

"I also try to match the labels to the colours to make it artistically pleasant - like the three ginger tea bags used for three ginger cats."

image copyrightJan Heath
image captionMrs Heath, pictured at a gallery, produced It's a Wind Up on a ginger teabag
image copyrightJan Heath
image captionMrs Heath said Time was inspired by the extra time many people found themselves with during lockdown
image copyrightJan Heath
image captionNow That's A Bit of Gossip is one of several featuring animals
image copyrightJan Heath
image captionMany works are a tribute to galleries, such as View from the Tate Modern

The former coffee drinker has made a bulk teabag order and asked friends and family to send her unusually-labelled ones.

"I am recycling them, I guess," she said.

"I don't know how long they will last framed, but they should last as long as an acrylic painting."

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