Early stages of batik by Marina Elphick, part of a step by step guide.

A Portrait in Batik

Batik Portrait of Nicola by British batik artist Marina Elphick, reputed batik artist. Her batik portraiture is realistic and imbued with the personality of the subject, her batiks are unique.
Portrait of Nicola with personalised back ground, batik by UK batik artist Marina Elphick

The Batik Step by Step

Having been asked so many times how I “paint” a portrait in batik I have decided to write an explanation of my techniques, with stage by stage photos of the process. There are no secret tricks, the basis is starting with a clear drawing, mainly in line, finding a good likeness and skilful control of the wax.

Watercolour sketch and colour notes for batik portrait of Nicola.
Watercolour sketch and colour notes for batik portrait of Nicola.

I start with sketches and watercolours of the sitter. If the portrait is a commission I spend time talking about options and ideas trying to gain as much information as possible about the person and discover their wishes. I then provide the client with a watercolour rough of the composition I am planning as well as an idea of the colours I will use in the dyeing process. This gives them the opportunity to suggest any changes and gives me the chance to adjust the design on paper before working on the batik.

Batik step by step. Line drawing for Batik portrait of Nicola by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Portrait is drawn in line, with light indications of tone directly on to cotton. Wax will be applied to whites of eyes, highlights in hair and on Koala
Batik step by step. Line drawing  and first dye on batik portrait of Nicola by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Pale flesh tones have been painted and when dry, are waxed ready for a deeper flesh colour.
Batik step by step. Yellows and pink dyes hand painted, on batik portrait of Nicola by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Yellows and pink dyes hand painted, some areas isolated and others blend to make shades of orange, pale blue is applied sparingly to Nicola’s eyes
Batik step by step. Dyed areas have been waxed on batik portrait of Nicola by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Dyed areas have been waxed and pale blue dye is painted to create mauves and under dye for leaves.
Step by step batik. Batik dyed in yellow dye, batik portrait of Nicola by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Batik has been dip dyed in yellow dye, waxed areas are protected and resist the dye.
Batik step by step. Portrait dyed pale red, making orange on  batik portrait of Nicola by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Portrait dip dyed pale red, making orange.
Batik step by step. Orange areas waxed and batik dyed red on batik portrait of Nicola, by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Orange areas waxed and batik dyed red.
Batik step by step. Final dye and waxing on Batik portrait of Nicola, by Marina Elphick, batik artist and portrait painter.
Reds are waxed and the batik is dyed deep wine red. It is now ready for de- waxing.
Step by step batik. #Batik portrait of Sophie by #British batik artist Marina Elphick.
Batik has been de-waxed, by using a hot iron and newsprint paper, sandwiching the batik between sheets of paper that absorb the residual wax.

The Portrait of Nicola was a success and received much appreciation. Revealing the completed portrait to a client is always a little nerve racking, even if I am happy with the result, it is impossible to gauge the reaction of the sitter or the customer.

PORTRAIT OF SOPHIE

Watercolour sketch and colour notes for batik portrait of Sophie.
Watercolour sketch and colour notes for batik portrait of Sophie.

The batik step by step

In the same way as with the previous portrait of Nicola, I start by sketching Sophie in pencil and watercolour then, when I am happy with the composition I draw directly on to the cotton in line. The first waxing will be to keep the white of the cloth, it may be only the whites of eyes and a few highlights. Next I paint a flesh tone all aver the face, the dye may bleed over the edges a little but this is no problem because the darker hair colour will conceal and dye over any paler dye.

BAtik step by step. Early stage of batik portrait of Sophie, showing line drawing on cotton and first flesh coloured dye. By Batik artist Marina Elphick.
Wax painted on whites of eyes, highlights in hair and stamens, then flesh dye is painted. Once dry it is waxed ready for further colouring.
Batik step by step. Deeper flesh tones, pale brown and grey painted.
Deeper flesh tones, pale brown and grey painted.
Batik step by step. Mid stage of batik, 5 waxings and 6 painted dyes on batik portrait of Sophie, by Marina Elphick UK batik artist.
Magenta and purple dye hand painted, browns on hair, kangaroo and cheetah. When dye is dry it is waxed using brushes and cantings to achieve texture and detail.
Step by step Batik dip dyed in turquoise dye bath, waxed protected areas resist the new colour.
Batik dip dyed in turquoise dye bath, waxed protected areas resist the new colour.
Step by step batik. Yellow dye is painted to make greens for leaves and jungle fauna. These are then waxed and deeper green and blue is added.
Yellow dye is painted to make greens for leaves and jungle fauna. These are then waxed and deeper green and blue is added.
Step bt step batik. Blues are waxed and selective areas are crackled before dark brown dye.
Blues are waxed and selective areas are crackled before dark brown dye.
Final colour, violet dye for contrast. Last stage, step by step batik.
Final colour, violet dye for contrast.
Batik portrait of Sophie, batik by British artist, Marina Elphick. Step by step batik portrait. Batik artist with a realistic technique making convincing portraits in batik.
Completed portrait of Sophie with a personalised fantasy background, batik on cotton by UK batik artist Marina Elphick

PORTRAIT OF FELIX
With younger children it is almost impossible to get them to sit for you, I spent a lot of time playing with Felix on the floor taking photographs of him and I was lucky if he’d even look at me ! I made some sketches while he was sleeping and found I could manage to compose a portrait from one or two photos and studies in my sketchbook.

Preparation for portrait of Felix.
Preparation for portrait of Felix.
Batik portrait by British artist Marina Elphick,  batik artist making contemporary batik. Commissioned batik of boy in his garden and landscape beyond.
Batik portrait of Felix, by UK batik artist Marina Elphick.

JAMES & OLIVIA

This portrait was wanted as a life size hanging, with symbolism included reflecting places the family had lived, Scotland and Sydney, as well as personal interests of the children. It was a fun project and enabled me a lot of freedom in the background.

Watercolour sketches for life size double portrait.
Watercolour sketches for life size double portrait.
James and Olivia , life size batik portrait , batik on cotton by British artist, Marina Elphick. Batik painter takes commissions.
James and Olivia , life size portrait , batik on cotton by UK batik artist Marina Elphick
Detail from James and Olivia Batik,  by British batik artist, Marina Elphick.
Detail from James and Olivia Batik, by Marina Elphick.

AUTUMN

Studies for Autumn portrait.
Studies for Autumn portrait.
Portrait of Autumn. Batik by British artist Marina Elphick, UK Batik artist .  Portraiture in batik. Batik
Autumn set in Rotherfield landscape, East Sussex. Batik by UK batik artist Marina Elphick.

See more portraits in The Batik Art Gallery, see top menu

To commission a batik portrait contact me at :
marinaelphick@gmail.com

Batik portrait of Coco in her garden, by British artist Marina Elphick. Batik artist known for her life like portraits.
Batik portrait of Coco in her garden, by UK batik artist Marina Elphick.
Bobby, commissioned portrait in batik, by British artist Marina Elphick. Batik artist known for her life like portraits.
Bobby, commissioned portrait in batik, by UK batik artist Marina Elphick.

Portraits start at £1200

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10 thoughts on “A Portrait in Batik

  1. Emmy Elphick
    Beautiful work ,Marina ,the process of drawing waxing and dyeing well explained .But oh ,what talent ,hard work and patience it must take to achieve these wonderful results.

    Like

  2. Hi! I just would like to give you a big thumbs up for
    your great information you have right here on this post.

    I will be coming back to your web site for more soon.

    Like

  3. I really love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme.
    Did you build this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own website and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is called.
    Thanks!

    Like

  4. I don’t know anything about painting. Just came across your beautiful painting on the internet. I really like this painting because its just like as if someone has put my imagination in front of me.

    Like

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