Mountain bear

Are you familiar with Japanese marbled papers? By carefully floating oil-based pigments on water, and transferring the swirly patterns to paper or canvas, some beautiful, delicate images can be created. There are numerous videos on YouTube explaining how to do this. Indeed, I did it at school when I was about 15, and again with a bunch of Summer School students some twelve years later — and it worked perfectly.

So I decided I’d have another go. I thought it might make interesting mounts (surrounds) for some of my drawings.

  • Water? Check.
  • Turps? Check.
  • Oil paints? Check.
  • Suitable tray? Check.
  • Unsized paper and card? Check.
  • Brushes, straws, and sticks for mixing? Check.
  • Latex gloves? Check.
  • Apron? Check.
  • Kitchen paper for mopping up spillages and wiping paint off cats? Check.

Hmm… oh… well… that really wasn’t what I had in mind. Rather than delicate, filigree patterns, I got bold streaks and smears. Oh dear.

Still, I am nothing if not resourceful (even if I do say so myself). I stared at the not-quite-right marbling. I turned it this way and that. And eventually, much like in one of those ‘magic eye’ pictures that were so popular twenty-odd years ago, images began to emerge.

I’ve done a whole series of these, and — because they’re great fun — I shall do some more. I’ll post them another day. (So far the little vixen is my favourite, but she isn’t scanned yet.)

Today, though, I give you a bear scratching his back on a fallen tree trunk while a little birdie looks on.


This is what I started with. I’ve reproduced it here with the best resolution I can muster. If you’re feeling arty, why not print it off and see what you can see hidden in its depths? And then send me your pictures to With your permission, I’ll post them here with mine 🙂

Oil paint, ink, & acrylic on card.


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