My niece Megan as Spring muse, batik on cotton by Marina Elphick. Batik portraiture by UK artistBatik art by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium

Batik Portraits: A Retrospective

Batik art by UK batik artist Marina Elphick. Contemporary batik artist well known for her highly life like portraits.
Portrait of Grace as a winter muse. Batik by Marina Elphick, 80 cm x 87 cm, batik on cotton satin.

A Retrospective of Batik Portraits by Marina Elphick

Batik has been my Medium of choice since the start of an artistic career thirty two years ago. In that time I have been commissioned to make artworks in batik in a range of subjects and sizes; from life size batik portraits 2.5 metres high, to smaller batik artwork for book over illustration. I became interested in portraiture fairly early, drawing my friends, family and myself. At age thirteen I had my first commission and several more followed, I thought it was great to get paid for what I loved doing ! The portraits were pencil or charcoal drawings initially, but soon after I discovered batik and succeeded in creating a few simple profiles in the technique, I became confident I could create simple portraits of real people, by transferring my drawing skills onto cloth.

Batik portrait of Amy and Edmund,  by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in batik, the classic Indonesian art medium
Amy and Ed in Austria 1994, life size batik on cotton by Marina Elphick.

Of course this wasn’t as easy as it sounds because the batik process is quite unforgiving and can be frustrating if the wax spills or floods into unwanted areas. Thankfully good quality cantings are now more easily available but back in the seventies and eighties I had to make do with clumsy shaped, heavy brass canting tools, so I mainly used brushes at that time.

Portraits of children,  sisters Kera and Francesca pose in their favourite painted dresses.  Early batiks by UK artist Marina Elphick, specialist in batik portraiture.
Batik portraits of sisters Kera and Francesca in their favourite silk painted dresses. Early batiks by Marina Elphick.

My batik portraits were individual and unusual compared to traditionally painted portraits, I wondered if they would appeal to people who were more familiar with oils or watercolours; but thankfully many were keen to have their children or even themselves portrayed in this unique technique and I was kept quite busy.

Below are a selection of early to more recent batik portraits, not exactly, but more or less in order.

Batik art by UK batik artist Marina Elphick. Contemporary batik artist well known for her highly life like portraits. portraits of children in batik. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Early portrait of Stephen and Rachel , batik portrait on cotton by Marina Elphick. 90cm x 66cm.

The first batik commission was a double portrait of young brothers. It was an exciting project, translating the client’s thoughts into a visual design, using home surroundings, symbolism and colour to create a personalised and true portrayal. Meeting the boys, chatting with them about their favourite toys, sketching and making colour studies, allowed me to get to know the them better. The interaction and inclusion of the boys ideas was important in the process and progress of the work. The portrait was successful and customer delighted, unfortunately I have no photographic reference of this early batik, only working sketches.

Batik art, portrait of Cain by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Portrait of Cain, batik on cotton by Marina Elphick. 65cm x 70cm.
Batik art.Batik portrait of Megan by British batik artist Marina Elphick who creates sensitive portraits of children.
Megan, a portrait in batik by Marina Elphick, 64cm x 70cm.
Batik art. Self Portrait by Marina Elphick with Howard as John the Baptist. Batik portrait by British artist.
Self portrait as Salome, holding the head of John the Baptist (from a drawing of my ex boyfriend). Batik on cotton, 91.5 cm x 167 cm, by Marina Elphick.
Batik portrait of Richard, soon after I met him in 1987. Portrait by batik artist Marina Elphick.
Portrait of Richard as Geologist. Batik on cotton, 74cm x 106cm, by Marina Elphick.
Batik Art.  Ophelia, self portrait by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Early self portrait as Ophelia, batik on cotton, padded, stitched and embellished with shisha mirror, 122cm x 259cm. Batik by Marina Elphick.
Batik art, life size batik portrait of James by UK artist Marina Elphick.
Portrait of James as nude youth by batik artist Marina Elphick. Batik on cotton, 182cm x 228cm.
Batik portrait of Buchi Emecheta by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Portrait of Buchi Emecheta, book cover artwork in batik, on cotton by Marina Elphick
Batik art Portrait of Gavin by UK batik artist Marina Elphick, known for her vibrant and distinctive batik portraits.
Gavin, a portrait in batik by Marina Elphick. Batik on cotton 76cm x 91cm, stitched and embellished with shisha mirror.
Zoe, a portrait in batik by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Batik Portrait of Zoe by Marina Elphick
Batik Portrait by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
James and Olivia , life size portrait , batik on cotton by Marina Elphick. 127cm x 163cm.
Phoebe and Emma, batik art portrait by Marina Elphick, UK batik artist known for her exquisite portraits of children in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Batik portrait of Phoebe and Emma, commission from the USA, worked only from photographs. Batik on cotton, 84cm x 64 cm, by Marina Elphick.
Portrait of Amy by contemporary batik artist Marina Elphick. British artist known for her exquisite portraits of children in this classic Indonesian art medium, batik art.
Batik Portrait of Amy in Turquoise, by Marina Elphick. 70cm x 75cm.
Batik art Portrait of my Parents by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Batik portrait of Barry and Emmy, my parents. Batik on cotton, 80cm x 65cm, by Marina Elphick.
Batik art portrait of Amy in bluebell woodland setting, by UK batik artist Marina Elphick. Contemporary batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Amy in woodland bluebell valley, batik portrait on cotton satin, 88cm x 83cm, by Marina Elphick.
Batik art portrait of Edmund with solar Disc and Lava lamp. Portrait by contemporary batik artist Marina Elphick. Children's portraits her speciality.
Portrait of Edmund with Solar Disc and a few of his favourite finds. Batik on cotton satin, 88cm x 83cm, by Marina Elphick.
My niece Megan as Spring muse, batik on cotton by Marina Elphick. Batik portraiture by UK artistBatik art by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Megan as Spring, batik on cotton by Marina Elphick. 89cm x 80 cm.
Batik Art. Portrait of "Bobby" by contemporary batik artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Bobby, commissioned portrait in batik, by Marina Elphick.
Batik Art. Persephone, batik portrait by contemporary batik artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Portrait of Roberta as Persephone, by Marina Elphick, batik on cotton satin, 80cm x 98.5cm.
English Rose by contemporary batik artist, Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Portrait of Amy, English Rose. Batik on cotton, 80cm x 95cm by Marina Elphick.
Batik art by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Batik portrait of Nicole, by batik artist Marina Elphick.
Batik art portrait of Felix by contemporary batik artist Marina Elphick.  British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits of children in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Batik portrait of Felix, by Marina Elphick .
Batik art. Portrait of mother and daughter, Amanda and Lucy, by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits in this classic Indonesian art medium
Portrait of Amanda and Lucy, mother and daughter, winter and spring. Batik on cotton, 77cm x 69cm, by Marina Elphick.
Batik art. Portrait of Joe, by contemporary batik artist Marina Elphick. British artist known for her exquisite portraits of children in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Portrait of Joseph in his Grandmother’s garden, batik on cotton by Marina Elphick, 69cm x 66cm.
Portrait of brother and sister in batik by artist Marina Elphick. British batik artist known for her exquisite portraits of children in this classic Indonesian art medium.
Christy and Grace, batik portrait in their garden in Lenham. Batik on cotton, 68cm x 86cm, by Marina Elphick.

I have continued to enjoy drawing people and my batik work has been popular as a portrait medium over many years. Batik portraits are unique and certainly different from paintings in traditional mediums by the very characteristics of the technique, but it is not true that batik is an inferior art-form; my portraits have the same draughtsmanship and resonance that a portrait in oil, acrylic or watercolour. I have found a fluency in the medium but batik has it’s challenges and intrigues, which keep me learning. I am aware of the need to keep a fresh approach, experiment a little and take a few risks. This is happening in my latest work which is non figurative and I intend to extend this freer approach to my batik portraiture.

BATIK ART by contemporary batik artist, Marina Elphick, a skilled and a highly experienced batik artist, who has worked with the medium for many years creating unique batik portraits. Her batiks capture a life-likeness and express an understanding of her subject beyond physical features; "she brings feeling, intensity and occasionally a dreamlike quality to her portraits. Whether in batik or paint, her work is always vibrant; capturing the essence of the subject whilst leaving enough for the viewer to make a personal connection with and interpretation of the art work."
Batik Portraits by Marina Elphick made into a collage of faces from several years of batik commissions and family sittings.
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2 thoughts on “Batik Portraits: A Retrospective

  1. Amazing work ,just stunning .I feel so proud to have such a talented daughter .You deserve to be recognised as a leading portrait artist and for all your other beautiful work .

    Like

  2. Hello Marina

    I have just looked this latest post and again I am totally amazed at the beautiful and stunning portraits you create. I agree with your Mum’s comment. You deserve to be better known for your incredible, intricate work.

    Like

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