One of the warnings I give people when they take one of my marbling classes or check out one of my demos is that marbling is addicting. People initially laugh this off as crazy babble by a crazy artist but by the end of class or after being unable to tear themselves away from my demo, they realize I am right. I don't know what it is specifically about marbling that makes it so, but it is true. Marbling is addicting. Once you experience it, you start to CRAVE it. It's not that you just LIKE it. Or that you WANT to do it. No...you actually feel DRIVEN to pursue it, COMPELLED to get to your tank, ITCHY to start laying down paint. And to further prove my point, I present to you Exhibit A: Steve.
Steve was one of the first people to take my Experience the Tank class. Shortly thereafter (within a day or two, I believe), he bought all the materials to begin marbling on his own--a tank, carrageenan, alum, paper, paints. He even made his own rakes and combs. And despite only having access to a very small space in which to marble, he manages to make it work and make it work well. And he does so frequently.
Steve has emailed me photos of his marbled papers and it thrills me to see his work evolve. He's even framed some of his pieces and found other creative ways to use them, such as displaying them in those travel mugs that you allow you to insert paper (or photos) into them. But what REALLY blew me away was what he emailed me about the other day: he was marbling on BARK.
Yes, BARK. As in the stuff that comes from trees.
I've been marbling on wood lately but it's milled wood. The bark Steve is marbling on is stuff straight from nature. Pure and unaltered. He's collecting the bark from deadfalls and fire-pit debris in the mountains and from a park near his home. (And no, he's not ripping it off trees! He's just picking it up off the ground.)
I love this for so many reasons. First of all, the pieces are BEAUTIFUL. I can totally see these hanging on my wall (and I bet you can see them on yours too!). Secondly, I love seeing Steve's confidence in marbling soar so much that he feels comfortable to take it to the next level. Thirdly, I love that he's experimenting. This is what I wish so much for the art of marbling: INNOVATION. I respect and admire and enjoy traditional paper and fabric marbling but I am also drawn to the idea of pushing the boundaries (materials, tools, application) to see what happens. This is also the reason I like to teach marbling classes...every student brings a fresh perspective to the execution of marbling. And that is so fun to experience.
The weather here is still icky enough to put my marbling on hold for another few days but in the mean time, I'll be collecting bark on my neighborhood walks so that when the weather does cooperate again, I can hit the studio for yet another WILD marbling session. Marbling in extra large, marbling in mini, marbling on ceramic and wood, and now marbling on bark...where will it end?!!
I hope it never does.