Through most of my artistic and batiking career I have worked figuratively on cotton and have enjoyed elaborate detail and embellishment. My life-sized batik hangings would take weeks, sometimes months to complete, being very labour intensive. Commissioned portraits would need a lot of preparation drawing, colour planning and fine detail, not to mention the additional stress of getting a correct likeness at the end of it. This has been the way I have worked for many years, finding inspiration from various painters, including Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites, Gustave Moreau and Klimt. It is rare for me to batik in an abstract way unless it is a background or decorative addition to a portrait.
The batiks shown here represent a new experimental approach, a chance to free up my working techniques which maybe needed a shake up.
Over the last three weeks I have allowed myself to work with less emphasis on realism or representation, relying more on intuition and expression to create lively, abstract batiks.
I have been using wax, dye and ink on heavy rag paper. This handmade paper absorbs the dye very readily and enables real depth of colour, also the surface allows interesting brush strokes and textures to be created, which contrast dramatically with the fine flowing lines of the canting and kyska. This way of working needs no planning but involves an instinctive intellectual approach, balancing colour and design over the ever changing stages of the batik.
I have to admit to finding this new way of batiking quite liberating and rewarding, it is faster and doesn’t limit me to working on one artwork at a time, also I can afford to make what I call “disasters” without regretting many hours lost !
However this doesn’t spell an end to my portraits and figurative work, I have a commission which is due to begin in June and I hope to bring a fresh approach to the portrait.