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Ebru by Garip Ay

Garip Ay Creates Worlds of Swirling Beauty by Painting on Water

Ever thought it would be possible to recreate Van Gogh’s Starry Night without using any paper? Apparently, you’re not crazy if you answered yes. Thanks to the Turkish art of ebru you can watch Garip Ay paint the captivating image directly on water.

Ebru is thought to have originated around the end of the Islamic Timurid dynasty in the 15th century. It involves putting a natural gum substance called tragacanth in water to increase its viscosity.

You then use dyes to paint, sprinkle and manipulate the colors into an ethereal work of art. Once finished, the piece can be transferred by placing an absorbent paper over the image.


If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also referred to as “water marbling,” and a simpler technique called body marbling has recently been popular on the festival circuit (though you’re transferring paint to skin rather than paper).

Obviously, ebru takes far more time, effort and artistic ability to achieve results, but it’s fun to see how the general method has been adapted in new ways. Japanese water painting also exists, called suminagashi.

Watching the process is hypnotic. Vague shapes blossom into clarity like the scene in a scrying pool, and in the Starry Night video the initial splatters of dye look like phosphorescence in a dark sea. Ay even paints the man himself in tribute afterwards!


The ability to transform these fragile images into permanent pieces is fascinating. On older Turkish documents you can see ebru used to mark authenticity in treaties, state papers and government records, since it would be impossible to replicate the original design.

It’s a unique and wondrous art that masters like Ay are keeping alive for the good of all.

Stop by his blog to enjoy more dreamlike visions!


Garip Ay Blog
Garip Ay on Facebook

Rhylan Dane

Rhylan Dane

Formerly a freelance copywriter, Rhylan now manages Armorbelle and creates marketing thingamajigs for personal clients. She has wanted to be a pirate since the age of 3, and although she still has no idea how to sail, she’s become very adept at stabbing and plundering.
Rhylan Dane

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