Batik on paper by UK artist, well known for her figurative batiks.

Batik art: Batik paintings on Paper

Persephone, batik on paper by Marina Elphick, modelled by Bobby.
Persephone, batik on paper by Marina Elphick,
modelled by Bobby.
Labradorite and Malachite, batik art on paper by Marina Elphick.
Labradorite and Malachite, batik on paper by batik artist Marina Elphick.
Hematite and Azurite, batik art on paper by Marina Elphick.
Hematite and Azurite, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.

Batik on paper is something I have only relatively recently experimented with. I’ve been working with cold water dyes and inks on a variety of robust watercolour and cotton rag papers, using cantings and brushes to apply the wax. These papers take the dye easily and don’t fall apart when wet, so allow dye to be washed back if necessary. Working on paper can have advantages, the dyes dry faster because they are on the surface only and don’t need to penetrate through, as on cotton or silk. Also the dyes can be painted on like watercolours, allowing gentle build up of tone and and blending of colours. The waxed lines are crisper edged on paper and give the work a clarity and sharpness.

Detail of Primavera, batik portrait of Cathy by British batik artist Marina Elphick. Batik art on paper, contemporary batik art.
Detail of Primavera, batik on paper by artist Marina Elphick.
Lupins and Poppy flowers, batik art on paper by British artist Marina Elphick. Contemporary batik artist.
Lupins with Poppies, batik on paper by  Marina Elphick.
Windy Garden, batik on paper by Marina Elphick, UK batik artist, contemporary batik artist.
Windy Garden, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.

The batik process on paper loses some of the characteristic properties of batik on fabric, the obvious loss is the distinctive “crackle”, where the wax cracks during dyeing and allows thread veins of colour to seep into the tiny grooves. The “crackle ” can be manipulated on silk and cotton by crushing the waxed areas to maximise the effect, yet this cannot be achieved on paper without destroying the surface structure.

Portrait of Jodie with Iris flowers. Batik on paper by British artist Marina Elphick.
Portrait of Jodie with Iris, inspired by Mucha. Batik on paper by batik artist Marina Elphick.

The marbled veins in Jodie’s portrait have been finely drawn in with an ink pen, a laborious task compared to the instant crackle of wax on crushed fabric in a dye bath !

Batik Portrait of Amy, batik on paper, by British batik artist Marina Elphick
Batik Portrait of Amy, on paper, by  Marina Elphick.  This work was inspired by Rossetti and my beautiful daughter
Bluebirds, portrait of Grace, batik painting on paper by British batik artist Marina Elphick.
Bluebirds, portrait of Grace, batik on paper by batik artist Marina Elphick.

Along side hot wax resist, clear wax crayon has been used on the Bluebird portrait to create additional textures.

Poppy flower Garden, batik art on paper by Marina Elphick. Contemporary British batik artist.
Poppy Garden, batik on paper by British artist Marina Elphick.

It is interesting to note how batik on paper enters the realm of painting, managing to shake off its association with craft and becoming a contender among traditional art mediums. Paper is perceived to present fewer problems commercially, in terms of presentation, durability and longevity. The perception that traditionally made batik on cotton is any less of an art form or less durable is a misconception, yet batik on paper manages to bridge the gap between mediums and makes it more accessible.

Transience, batik at on paper by UK artist Marina Elphick. Batik art
Transience, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.
Deep Blue, batik art on paper by Marina Elphick. Contemporary batik art.
Deep Blue, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.
Profusion, batik art on paper by batik artist Marina Elphick.
Profusion, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.

I would be interested in your views on this, everyone’s experiences and opinions are different when creating, viewing, buying or selling batik. Do you think batik is an artform or a craft medium, maybe it can be both ? Please feel free to comment at the bottom of page.

In the Lake, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.
In the Lake, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.
Iris floral study III, batik painting on paper by Marina Elphick. Batik art.
Iris flower study III, batik on paper by UK batik artist Marina Elphick.
Iris , batik floral study, batik on paper by Marina Elphick, batik artist making batik art.
Iris flower study I, batik on paper by UK batik artist Marina Elphick.
Portrait of Nikki, batik and watercolour painting on paper, by Marina Elphick. Batik Painting.
Portrait of Nikki in Gustave Moreau scene, batik and watercolour on paper,  Marina Elphick.
Garden, batik art on paper by UK batik artist Marina Elphick. British batik.
Garden, batik on paper by Marina Elphick.
Fossils and Malachite, batik painting on paper by Marina Elphick.
Fossils and Malachite, batik on paper by UK batik artist Marina Elphick.
Persephone, modelled by Bobby. Batik on paper by British batik artist Marina Elphick. Contemporary batik art work.
Persephone, batik on paper by UK batik artist Marina Elphick,
modelled by Bobby.

Please feel free to comment below.

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4 thoughts on “Batik art: Batik paintings on Paper

  1. As a painter myself ,I am aware that batik on cloth may be considered a craft when used in the traditional way using sets of patterns for the imagery .When an artist is inspired by his or her own creativity, may it be abstract or figurative ,the batiks are transformed into amazing artworks .
    Yet ,it may still be difficult to convince buyers and sellers alike to consider a painting described as batik as an art form and not a craft Marina your creativity and skills are simply boundless .

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  2. Hi Marina,

    I love your flower images (Poppy garden; Lupins&Poppies) and Profusion – stunning colour, transparency and movement.
    I suspect batik is considered a craft medium, because many of us have had a go at tie dying at school and therefore believe it just to be a more refined form of fabric dyeing. However, anyone who has seen the immense skill, finesse, composition etc of your work would only be able to describe it as art – you achieve the most stunning subtlety & luminosity of skin tones! People who see the large work you made for us, dont believe it is batik, they always believe it is a painting and therefore great art!!

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  3. Hi Marina, i have never worked with Batik before. As you have inspired me to try this, would you have any tips on using batik with paper as my theme is blossoming flowers and im not expireinced in this area of art.
    Thanks , M

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    1. Hello Maya, batik worked on paper allows a very clean finish, as opposed to the crackle and variant degrees of resist that batik on fabric creates. On paper the wax can be applied with brushes of all sizes and cantings,which are tools used in traditional batik. WaterColours and fabric dyes can be used in conjunction on paper and the wax is used to hold areas that are to remain the colour you have applied it on to.
      When painting blossom or any delicate flower, batik is a useful and sympathetic technique. The White of the paper would be your first consideration, all the highlights and pale hues would be waxed first; the the palest of pinks, yellows or greens can be applied with a watercolour brush, then waxed. Care is needed in keeping the colour light and not too saturated, building up tone in a subtle and delicate way. Batik on paper is more forgiving than on fabric, however splashes and drips can still happen, so practise on samples before embarking on a major piece of work.
      I hope this is helpful.

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