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Art of painting on water: EBRU

Art of painting on water: EBRU


Art of painting on water: EBRU


For Ebru art we need thick water. It’s not possible with just pure water. To make water thicker we mix it with some natural powder which is like a kind of very soft glue. We mix ox-gall with only paints. Not with water.


We have seen people creating absolutely stunning piece of art on walls, popularly known as graffiti or street art, or creating art on a canvas,glass or other tangible materials. However, what if we tell you that there is an art-form that allows you to paint on water? Most of you would think that we are joking but during a workshop in Delhi, we met Hayrettin Kozanoglu- an Ebru artist who practices the art of painting on water. He told us about himself and the art form.

Art of painting on water: EBRU

Hayrettin Kozanoglu, Ebru artist, portraying art of painting on water in one of the events

How excited are you about your visit to India?

It is my first visit to India and I am very excited to be here. I had three more requests for workshops from different places but I chose India to portray my art. I am more excited about having a workshop with kids because this would be their first interaction about the practice of Ebru art.


In 2009, I learnt this art form from an Ebru artist – Nesrin Bilsel and after I learnt the basic level of the art-form I started practicing it more to get to perfection. In 2011, I started giving workshops around the world to revive this ancient art-form and get exposure.


Tell me something about the Ebru Art?

This is a traditional Turkish art-form and in England,it is called Water-marbling. This is an old form of decorating paper usually used to bind books and cover books or decorate hand crafted books. In 17th century,Ebru came to Europe. Europeans began to practice this art form with different processes. The colours used in this art-form are hand crushed and handmade brushes which are made with horse hair and rose wood. The water base comes from earth or some from plants.

Art of painting on water: EBRU

Children trying their hands on the Ebru art.

It is really tricky to use just pure water so we mix it with some natural powder which is like a kind of very soft glue and mix Ox gall with paints which makes the colours that we put on the water, stay without getting mixed. We can make different shapes using different colours and when we are done with it, we lay a paper on it and slowly take it off. The mixture of the water is made a day or two before the performance.


What role does temperature play in this art-form?

Temperature plays a really important role when it comes to Ebru. Usually the room temperature is considered as the best temperature to work with. However, too cold, too hot or too dusty areas would make it really hard to perform the art.


Before Ebru, I worked with many artists in Turkey in their studios. I have worked with fine art, contemporary art,in exhibitions etc. During 2004-2007, I started art management in Turkey, then moved to England and started learning Ebru.

Art of painArt of painting on water: EBRUting on water: EBRU

Hayrettin teaching the kids about how to work on the water.

What colours are used for Ebru?

The colours which are used for Ebru are specially made for this art form. Other colours like oil paints or acrylic paints do not work with Ebru. The colours are extracted from the environment and we have to crush them for different coloursbetween 4 and 8 hours. Then we mix it with Ox Gall and water and the process continues.


Do you take classes or workshop?

I have taken workshops and classes for kids and have done workshops with families for fun. I also conduct courses where the basics of the art-form are taught where they learn how to prepare material but you need long periods of exercise to improve your creativity.

Art of painting on water: EBRU

Workshop taken by the artist to make interaction between the art and the children.

How many forms of painting can be done through Ebru?

There are seven types of Ebru and one of them uses figures which are usually flowers. Until 20th century, it was only about flowers. But now, it involves a lot of other things and a lot of people are learning about it. As more people are learning about it, more experiments are happening. It is possible to create landscapes, human figures/portraits with Ebru but it depends on the years of practice.


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