As I recently stumbled upon a large amount of free time over the last few weeks, I decided to plant myself firmly at Limbong Art, as evidenced through my last few blog posts. Sharing meals and recipes from our different cultures with Umi (batik instructor), meeting interesting new travellers, and feeling engrossed in such a rich part of the artistic heritage of Malaysia kept me coming back for more. After so many intensive hours hunched over pouring hot wax and inks on cotton, it’s time for a break, so it’s a good thing the next few weeks will be a bit busy as we host some family visiting from Canada. I hope to get a chance to straighten out my back and watch stubborn ink stains fade off my fingernails. (Note: having a personality inclined towards obsessive tendencies is both a blessing and a curse.)
Having gone through 4 years of being a Studio Art major in university means having more crappy art than I want to admit to (along with, of course, pieces I’m proud of too). On the other hand, having a mother usually means that this “crappy” art, even some that dates back to high school (*cringe*), is absolutely spectacular and deserves to be at least stored forever, if not on the wall. Because I have so much abandoned art back at my parents’, I never really felt the need to make anything especially dedicated to them, despite my mother’s constant pleas for something custom-made to fill a large and lonely living room wall. With my recent obsession with batik painting, which has put me in “the zone” for art-making again, I figured it was time to put the myriad of excuses away and dedicate this batik for the most beautiful woman in my life: my mother.
After being told to be mindful of furniture patterns and colours in the living room where this batik will find its home, I came up with this..
Notice that before I even began the wax drawing, I covered the entire fabric with an off-white colour just to downplay the stark whiteness of the cotton.
Instead of boiling and fixing the painting, I chose to go with a different method of scraping off thick areas of wax with a knife, followed by ironing off the remainder of the wax. This leaves the final product slightly darker due to the heated wax oils, but the colours at least maintain their vibrancy. The only downside to this is that over time and with exposure to the elements, the colours may fade. However, since this is meant to be framed and hung indoors, it should be good to go for centuries. Family relic in the making, I hope.
There is something quite meditative about being engaged in producing art that is simply decorative and as I neared the end of this painting, it occurred to me that it’s been a while since I made anything simply for aesthetic reasons, simply for the craft of it, and nothing more. There is a quality that lies in the process of batik painting that encourages a type of emphasis on the “ornamental” above all else. Devoid of rich symbolic expression this may be, but it is by no means devoid of love, as I did it with plenty of that… all of it for my mother.