Batik artworks, paintings and travels by Marina Elphick
A Portrait in Batik
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
See more portraits in The Batik Art Gallery, see top menu
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