Viewpoints – Paige Mortensen

Coming Into Focus

Batik is very much a process oriented way of working. I start by preserving the white with wax then add what I see as the lightest colour. The watercolour happily runs across the Ginwashi paper and although I can sometimes control where it goes it definitely has a mind of its own. 

Once that layer is dry I cover all the areas that I want to stay that colour with wax and move on to the next darker colour. Those steps continue until I have added the darkest darks at which time I make sure the whole piece is coated with wax and then iron all of the wax off leaving just the watercolour on the paper and revealing the finished piece.

Joy in the Garden 24 x 36″ Watercolour Batik ©Paige Mortensen

Do you remember the manual focus on a camera or microscope, where the image is blurry and as we turn the ring it slowly comes into focus? That is what I see as I work. My viewpoint is like the lens of the camera. The drawing I start with looks quite defined and in focus however as I add the first, light layers the image becomes quite blurry and poorly defined. The wax clouds the colour of the areas it is covering up and the visible colour seems to just blend together. It isn’t until I add the darks that I start to feel like it may end up looking like something. Then, when I iron the wax off everything comes into focus!

You can watch as the Spadina Bridge comes into focus here:

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