Painted on Water

Traditionally used to embellish pages of the Koran, the traditional art of paper-marbling is still popular in modern Turkey.  Called ebru in Turkish, this artwork is so revered that many girls are graced with its name when they are born. Martha Stewart even had a show on it though there are questions regarding her techniques. Perhaps if she had invited a Turkish ebru master for the demonstration ...

When you sign up to take an ebru course you will start from the beginning by making the brush from horsetail hair and a thin tree branch. You will then be taught how to mix the paints and make the liquid that fills the tray and suspends the paint.

Above is an early piece from artist and instructor Zeynep Orhan. If you look closely you can see traces of the paint from when the paper was pulled out of the solution in the tray.

One of our guests thought the tulip was painted on separately but the marbling and tulip are done at the same time and pulled from the tray altogether. It takes lots of practice before it can be done correctly.

These pieces are from one of Zeynep's students and are not so traditional.

Ebru is so popular in fact that the famous Turkish soprano and cross-over pop star Sertab Erener and her partner Demir Demirkan used it in naming their English language group Painted On Water
In describing their group, they say:
Ebru has been passed down as a practical art, with its techniques of preparing water, pigments, paper, and hand-made brushes, combs and other instruments, from master to apprentice. Much the way that Ebru marbled paper has been used in bookbinding and in combination with calligraphy, its visuals and philosophy frame the alchemic fusion of Turkish classical and folk melodies with jazz, modern rock and blues created by PAINTED ON WATER.

If you want to know what Painted On Water sounds like, you can listen here. If you want to see it in person, we recommend a trip to Turkey where it has been practiced for centuries.

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