Category Archives: Uncategorized


bird It was getting close to when we would be going home, so I decided I couldn’t leave without sketching Bird. Situated on a corner between reception and the pool, though there are two other birds, this bird is the one in the most prominent position. He is also the one that talks the most. He has a piercing wolf whistle and an even more piercing screech. He can say selamat pagi (good morning) and apa kabar? (How are you?). Broni was trying to teach him to say “I’m a very silly bird” but I don’t think she had a lot of success.  Everyone talks to Bird, but after close observation we realised that the gardener is the main tutor. Bird sleeps hidden in the top of his cage, but he will sometimes come down if you say goodnight to him.

IMG_5063After Broni was a little better we had started swimming before breakfast, and we did that also this morning. But we had to have a fairly early breakfast, because we had decided to go to Ibu Oka for lunch. I have been meaning to go to Ibu Oka for a very long time. It is famous for suckling pig.  The thing is ,they say you must go at 11a.m. Eating suckling pig quite that early isn’t something for every day, but today we were determined. We had a slightly smaller breakfast too. Popped into the market for a little more panic shopping for friends then lunch.

Ibu Oka was a pleasant surprise. There were a number of menu options, but the choice was obvious. The menu option I chose gave a small amount of various things.  It was delicious and not too large to face at 11 a.m.  The restaurant is quite modern. It was more traditional for a long time and I am sorry I missed going there when it was like that. 

Then back for a swim and it was time to draw Bird.


Filed under Bali, birds, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, Uncategorized, watercolour

Sketching the rice fields as the sun goes down

ricefieldsWhen I sketched the rice fields at the beginning of my trip, they were under water. Now the rice has been planted. They started planting the most distant fields first, and already they are greener than the ones done a day later. The ducks have gone now, but the herons still come. The hotel has an infinity pool overlooking the rice fields, and swallows come and swoop through the top of the water. I sit in a pavilion right at the back of the property, as it has comfortable chairs and a table, so it is a great place to sketch.

I took the photo below as I sat down to sketch, in case I didn’t finish it ( though I did). Plenty of watercolour, slopped on quickly.  So as you see it was already late in the day.

After an early morning battle with the lack of wifi, we were told that the technician was coming, so we gave up and went out. More gift shopping at the market. A birthday present to go to NZ, and a kimono for ME. My newest Bali kimono is ten years old. I had been bemoaning the fact that though there are lovely new sarong fabrics, none are being made into kimonos. Then I found one. Acid green with various pinks and oranges. It’s wild!

It was a very hot day so we had to have another pink drink at Oops, opposite the market.  Couldn’t decide about lunch and ended up at Kopi Bali House having another frozen moccachino and some calamari rings.  We then sprinted (for some reason unknown to me) up the Monkey Forest Road in the hot hot sun, back to the hotel. We then had to lay on our beds to cool down before we could get our bathing suits on and get in the pool.  Then sketch, followed by yummy cap cay at Cafe Wayan. Close to the hotel as were were not keen to repeat the sprint.


Filed under Bali, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, Uncategorized, watercolour

Rumah kedua – back to Ubud

cendana_shrineSo here I am back in Ubud, my second home. My friend still has the dental problems and wants a quiet morning. So I head off up the Monkey Forest Road to check out Ubud Market. But first I run the gauntlet of the old friends and the drivers I have known.

For those who don’t know Bali, you might be getting confused by the names shortly. There are only four first names in Bali (on the whole) so one knows a whole lot of people with the same name. They are birth order names. First born is Wayan, second is Made (pron Marday) then Nyoman, and then Ketut. Child number five will be called Wayan and then you go round again.

I seem to know mostly Nyomans, and a few Mades. So I ran into the Made who calls me Mama (silly boy…though I have known him for almost 30 years) and another Made, a driver I met last visit. I have been emailing a lovely Nyoman who was our driver last time, became a friend and really touched our hearts. I wanted him to pick us up and bring us to Ubud. When I got no reply from the email, I texted, then called and got no reply. I had a bad feeling about that. I found out from his friend Made, that he has got sick and died of cancer in the eighteen months since my last visit. I am really sad about that.

So, off to the market. A look around and a tiny bit of shopping, then back for lunch with my friend. A heavenly mango mint smoothie and lumpia again at Dian Restaurant.

It was very hot and humid, so a long long swim and sketching by the pool. Out to dinner at Rai Pasti, just down the Monkey Forest Road.


Filed under Bali, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, Uncategorized, watercolour

Urban Sketchers lunching and sketching

griya_lionMy first full day in Bali and a day alone…except that it wasn’t. Bali Urban Sketcher Peny Senyowati, very kindly gave up her lunch break to come and sketch with me.

I am running very late with blogging as my travelling companion had not been to Bali before and we have been out and about at all times. So now I am trying to catch up.

imagePeny and I had lunch in the restaurant of the hotel. Right on the beach. I ate lumpia, which are like huge spring rolls, but much more delicious. Peny had soup, which looked amazing. Peny and I met in 2013 when I came to Bali the last time. I went sketching with the Bali Urban Sketchers at the Museum of Bali.

Quite soon them rain came, but we moved to another table that proved to have an even better view of the statue I wanted to sketch. I want to sketch things that are a reminder of Bali, not just trees and flowers. Though, sketching every day, I must sometimes compromise. But I have sketched every day, I have.

NOTE: I badly need lipstick in this photo.


Filed under Uncategorized

Making travel journals with a friend

karens_booksI have been a bit slack about blogging recently. I have been making books more than sketching. These are two recent ones I made with a friend one rainy Sunday. She had looked at my travel sketchbooks a while ago, and although she doesn’t sketch, she decided she would love to have a book to keep all her souvenirs and to write.

karens_endpapersWe took a big plastic rubbish bag up to the art shop in the rain to keep the paper dry. We bought three sheets of Canaletto paper  which made two books.   I bound one and she bound the other.  One is for a previous trip that she has kept a lot of collage bits from, and the other is for her next trip.

She had quite a selection of papers to work with. The one that looks black is dark navy and has leafy bits in it. It has this beautiful marbled paper for the endpapers (inside the covers).

So now she is ready to roll with her travel journals.



Filed under book art, Travel, Uncategorized


cahersiveenThe Virtual Paintout for October is County Kerry, Ireland. I went to Ireland in 1975 and travelled around by public transport. We went around the ‘Ring of Kerry’ and stopped off for a night at Cahersiveen. A strange old-fashioned place in those days, unlike anywhere else we went in Ireland. Totally changed now, I’m sure. It looks more modern, walking around the Google maps street view with the little yellow man.

But I remember going to a bar that was the front ‘parlour’ of someone’s house. Did we eat there too? I don’t remember. It is too long ago. We stayed in a B&B that was also someone’s house. There were holy pictures everywhere and containers of holy water too.

Ten years later, when I was living in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald Saturday edition had a huge article about a scandal centred on Cahersiveen after the stabbed body of a baby found on a beach. It  resulted in what seems to have been a witch hunt centred on an unmarried mother completely unrelated to the baby whose body was found. You can read about it here. It didn’t really surprise me that such a thing would happen there. Ireland has changed a lot since 1985.


Filed under Uncategorized, Virtual Paintout, watercolour

A quick travel sketch report

imageI have to go and catch a train in 25 minutes, so just time for a quick update. I am running about two weeks behind actuality, with my blogging.

One thing that was holding me up is that I have been in hotel rooms with no access to the open air to photograph the sketches. On Thursday morning (May Day in Italy, very quiet, public holiday), I found a fairly deserted piazza I front of a big church. There was shade but the light was good, so I photographed everything I could, out there in the open.

Once I get home I will scan and replace all my sketches. Part of the problem is that the pages are a bit curled from the dampness of the watercolour and also there is a breeze, so it is difficult to get the photos straight under these conditions.

I am using Snapseed to improve the images, otherwise they would be much worse (and I do know they are not good). During my last trip I used PIXLR on the IPad, but once you use more than about two processes, it starts to degrade the image. Snapseed does not, and it has more flexibility. Thanks to Rob Sketcherman in Hong Kong for telling me about it.

I have sketched almost every day, except for some long travelling days, yesterday when it surprised me with thunder and lightning, and one day when we were totally exhausted and gave ourselves a day off. We carry the sketchbooks and materials every day and they get heavy on a long day out.

My sketchbook is getting full. I have another unbound one with me, but I am not sure what to do about that at the moment.

Today I go to Arezzo from Bologna. I have has wifi here as good as at home, but who knows what Arezzo will be like. That is why I thought I should post quickly now.

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Filed under sketching, Travel, Uncategorized