The Magical Art of Ebru

Have you ever tried to paint on a water surface? The ancient art of water painting, or water marbling, was invented in Turkey, and it is called Ebru. Remarkable: Ebru has been added to the United Nations’ world cultural heritage list.

So what is Ebru, in more details? This is an art technique of creating colorful patterns by sprinkling and brushing color pigments onto a pan of a water solution which makes the water slightly oily. After you paint on this surface, you can transfer your ethereal artwork to paper or fabric, and thus make it real and long lasting.

“It reminded me of the first black-and-white print I saw developing. This is truly fun and productive art!” – T. Lawrence Wheatman, professor of photography, NYU


Processing an Ebru artwork

The word “ebru” comes from the Persian word “ebr”, meaning  “cloud”. The word “ebri” then evolved from this, assuming the meaning “like a cloud” or “cloudy”, and was assimilated into Turkish in the form “ebru”.

Our Ebru instructor, Kate Goltseva, is an interdisciplinary professional artist specializing in painting and graphic design. In her artistic practice she has been exploring feelings, human behavior, and their expression. That’s why Kate is interested so much in ethnic and folk art: it’s more about raw materials and emotions we are made of – love, longing, compassion, hesitation.

Remarkable: Ebru has been added to the United Nations’ world cultural heritage list.

After Kate discovered the art of Ebru for herself, she went to the Turkish Cultural Center to learn the principles and traditional patterns. Turkish artists use soft and subtle colors and teach you to draw the figures and elements inspired by nature: petals, leaves, flowers. The process is calm and slow. Traditionally, Ebru was considered an art therapy technique and was used in mental institutions as part of a healing process. When you paint your patterns on water, you are focusing on the action and thus unintentionally relaxing. Your mind is enjoying the moment of painting which needs some additional concentration because you’re dealing with a liquid surface which is obviously different from canvas, paper, or wooden panels.


Kate Goltseva, studying Ebru at the Turkish Cultural Center, New Jersey

At her art lessons Kate introduces brighter colors and encourages you to make any patterns you want, including abstracts. As a result, your Ebru masterpieces get that cool contemporary feeling. After your artwork gets dry, you can frame it and put on the wall! Surprisingly, but it’s probably not such a thing as ‘failing’ with Ebru: you don’t have to be a professional artist to create your artwork.

One more interesting thing about Ebru: you are getting heated up and truly passionate about creating more artworks at once! Why? You see your first results immediately and thus get engaged into the excitement of the process – and you want more.

There are many Ebru techniques. The professionals say you need about two years to learn all of them. Fun and spiritual at the same time, Ebru presents the mystery of combination of micro- and  macro- worlds. The magic itself begins from your very first brush stroke, as each pattern has its own spirit and nature, reflecting your individuality.

If you want to discover your inner artist or create an artwork where the failure is not possible, then Ebru is for you. The stillness of water, vivid brightness of colors, and truly meditative process of creation fills you up with positive energy and provides mind relaxation. Practicing Ebru, for sure, gives you even more beyond that: self-empowerment through a creative process is priceless.

*Check out our next art classes here.


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One response to “The Magical Art of Ebru

  1. Pingback: The Art of Healing from a Breakup – RE:ARTISTE·

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