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Artist Uses Water to Create Stunning Works

The insanely talented artist, Garip Ay, practices an ancient painting technique known as ebru, which uses water as a canvas. The result of the unique method used by Ay, shown in the Great Big Story video below, is a series of surreal, flowing dreamscapes and designs. Some of which are reminiscent of a Bob Ross painting when viewed during an acid trip.

Ay, a Turkish artist, discusses his creative process in the Big Story video, noting that the ancient technique, also referred to as “Turkish marbling,” arrived in Istanbul 500 years ago. To make his paintings, Ay uses paintbrushes—with rose-branch handles and horsehair brushes—to flick, drip, and draw dyes onto water. The dyes are kept on the surface of the water thanks to their being mixed with ox gall, which is a cow-liver fluid mixed with alcohol.

“Ebru can be described as the art of water surface,” Ay says in the Big Story video, adding that “Eb” means water and “Ru” means surface. And while that sounds like the zenith of zen-like experiences, Ay says that he finds the process to be quite stressful. This, Ay says, is due to the fact that the technique results in serious “control problems” that require unusual flexibility from the artist.

Along with the art shown in the Big Story video, Ay also has countless other stunning works online. Both the artist’s YouTube channel and Instagram, for example, have enough ebru to make you think you’re in a museum full of AI-generated portraits.

For anybody who’s now inspired to learn more about Ay, his blog shares more details about him and his work. Including the fact that he’s done several ebru paintings for Netflix properties, like The Crown and even Stranger Things. Watch the latter painting made in the mesmerizing video below.

What do you think about Garip Ay and his ebru paintings? Are you inspired to paint on a canvas made of water now, or are you going to stick with acrylics? Let’s swirl up some ideas in the comments!

Feature image: Great Big Story