Tag Archives: Bali

Iseh village

iseh_wcAnother sketch from a photo, using some of the Marc Taro Holmes techniques.

NOTE: The Craftsy courses are on special during November. Buy Now! This course “Travel Sketching in Mixed Media” exceeded my expectations. Join up here.

Iseh village is high up on the slopes of Mt Agung in Bali. This volcano was thought to be inactive, however in 1963 there was a major eruption over a long period. Over 2000 people were killed. At the time, an English couple were living in Iseh, and Anna Mathews wrote a book about their experiences. In May, we went up the mountain as far as the road goes to see the places first hand. No tourists up there! You can read more about our trip here.

I sketched Iseh in lesson one. It is in this post, looking in the other direction. Also Mt Batur in the same post. Most of my landscape photographs are from Bali. At home, I am a city girl. It seems even in Europe I am a city girl.

Volcanos fascinate me. The first time Broni came to Bali with me (about 20 years ago) Mt Batur was erupting while we were up there on the rim. It goes down again, where there is a village, and up to the cone. I remember Broni cavorting along the fence line saying “Mana bisa, mana bisa! They’re living IN the volcano”. Photo and sketch here.

In August this year, Mt Raung, a volcano in east Java (to the west of Bali) was disrupting flights. As I post, Ngurah Rai airport in Bali is closed again because of the eruption of Mt Rinjani in Lombok, immediately to the east of Bali. I hope my next trip is not disrupted.

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Filed under Bali, fountain pen, inks, pen, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, watercolour

Finally Lesson 3 – experiment with Lexington Grey

ricefields_colourAfter the big search for inks this week, I finally got on to Marc Taro Holmes Lesson 3 – with watercolour over ink. I had heard a variety of opinions about the waterproof-ness of Lexington Grey (or otherwise) and I have a small amount that a friend has given me.  I took a crumpled piece of Fabriano Hot Press paper, expecting to have to throw this one away. Using the Super5 pen, I did a quick and careless sketch of one of my ricefield scenes. This sketch is same pen, different ink. How different is that line?

Well, as you see, it didn’t smear or bleed at all.  I only waited for a minute for the ink to dry, and there was quite a lot of ink on the paper, particularly where I have scribbled in the palm trees.

As far as the watercolour is concerned, it was a shame I didn’t use a flat sheet of paper. Using a lot of wet paint was tricky on a surface that was far from flat.  I learnt one more thing. I need to allow the trees to merge with the sky when the paint on the sky is not quite so wet. Still, a great way to work when travelling. All that wet paint doesn’t have to be put on in situ if there is no time.  This is another view near Sidemen in Bali, taken on the day we followed the Night of Purnama trail.



Filed under Bali, fountain pen, inks, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

The gate at Tirta Empul again

tirta_empul_gateYes, still on Lesson Two. There is a lot in that lesson, for me in particular. I always work in colour. Prefer it. But I took this course to find new ways of travel sketching, and working without colour is new for me.

I have sketched this gate before. Last time I started in the same way, with water soluble ink, but I added colour, then had to restate my lines. I was using my Hero pen then, and it puts out more ink.  This is my Super5 pen, which is finer. The ink colour is called Dark Brown, and I bought it in Florence, where I bought my Salamander ink. I hadn’t used it before, but I do like the colour.

I wanted to do another harder-edge sketch in this method, because I think it is a good quick way of getting it on the page. All that hatching to render tone is slow.  It would have worked better with the Hero pen and more ink on the page before I added the water, so I had to restate my lines afterwards. Hmm. But then I thought, that’s not a bad thing. I am usually fiddling with my sketchbook over a drink before dinner, and this is very little to add to have a finished sketch.

This gate makes me laugh and mystifies me a bit. The two men who came out the gate while I was photographing it looked at me so strangely. Maybe it was the ‘men’s changing shed’. Tirta Empul is holy springs and people go into the water there (see here), so I guess they change somewhere. Then again, maybe it was just a private residence.  The light was hitting the edges of all those different levels on the gate so beautifully that I had to take a photograph and I have to do a sketch that captures that.

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Filed under Bali, fountain pen, inks, sketchbook, sketching

Sketching with the ink brush

sebatu_inkbrushAnother exercise from the Marc Taro Holmes Craftsy course.  This one is using a brush pen which is like a waterbrush, except it has ink, not water, in the handle.

This image wasn’t ideal, but I had this photo on my ipad so I decided to go for it. It is a shrine at Gunung Kawi, Sebatu, in Bali.  There are two places called Gunung Kawi in Bali, and they are both beautiful.  This is Gunung Kawi, Sebatu. It is tucked away and not so much visited by tourists.  Our driver (and friend) was determined to take us to this Gunung Kawi though I wanted to go to the other one near Tampaksiring.

I had wanted my travelling companion (a Bali virgin) to see the other, more touristed Gunung Kawi because it has spectacular views of rice terraces.  There are a million steps. I wasn’t walking so well at the time and I had no intention of going down all those steps. I have been there many times.  You pay a small amount to get into the temple, and as you walk on, the most wonderful view opens in front of you. And the steps  go down and down to the temple and to the eleventh century tombs of the kings. So this is the one she didn’t see!

P1030454Our driver was worried about the steps. He was looking after us very well, though we had just met him. He was a friend of a friend. He wouldn’t say much about the ‘other ‘ Gunung Kawi he was taking us to. He thought he was showing us somewhere new. I don’t think he understood, back then, how many times I have been to Bali.  (In fact in May, we took him somewhere he hadn’t been before.) I had forgotten that the place at Sebatu was called Gunung Kawi. I thought of it as Sebatu.  Here’s a photo that shows you the ambiance of Sebatu with the pools of water. It is an idyllic place, tucked away in a valley. My travelling companion loved it anyway, and didn’t know what she had missed. If she goes back to Bali she is bound to go there anyway.

Back to the sketching….I am using cartridge paper, only on one side. But even then, it shows through on the scan. Continue reading


Filed under Bali, ink brush, inks, sketchbook, sketching

Marc Taro Holmes Online Travel Sketching course – Lesson 1 Homework

iseh_penI haven’t done an online course for —–years. However I have just this week started doing Marc Taro Holmes Travel Sketching course on Craftsy. Fantastic! Yesterday for one day only they had 50% off all courses, so I bought a couple more, but also got on the phone to my friends to say, buy it..buy it!

The course starts with  drawing without lifting your pen off the paper. Broni and I did that back in May in Bali, on the left on this page.

batur_penThe first image here is from a photo taken in the village of Iseh, high up on the slopes of Mt Agung. The photo I used is in this post.

My second image is from a photo taken in a restaurant on Mt Batur while I was sketching this page. It started out very similar to this sketch, although I was using a blue-grey watercolour pencil.  As I sketched during lunch, I had the time to finish it.

rendang_penThe image of the rice-fields drove me a bit batty. I am obsessed with tone and I needed darks. But then we moved on to using an ink brush-pen to add darks.

santisMy first try here is of Säntis, in Switzerland, where I did a lot of back-and-forth lines following the striations on the mountain. The second is a similar rice field view, now using the darks.

Already I have learnt that it is worth doing a quick sketch as simple as this, rather than no sketch at all.  Less than five minutes. Prsidemen_penactice will make them better as I do more. A few notes on the page and perhaps a business card glued on will make the layout more interesting.

For my homework, I am using a cheap spiral bound book, A5 size, as I need to do many of these to become more proficient. I plan to do many, MANY. I plan to take this book with me when I go out sketching and do a quick sketch in it as well as in my main sketchbook. (I do like to keep my sketches consecutive, so I prefer not to have more than one sketchbook on the go.)

Only downside of the course……Marc Taro Holmes has line drawings like this that make me want to weep.   But it is something to aspire to.


Filed under Bali, sketchbook, sketching, Travel

Balinese book cloth

imageMost mornings, for over a week, the first thing I have done is make book cloth. It needs to dry overnight and the only place I can keep it safe from the cat is on top of the washing machine, so it’s one sheet at a time.

Three of these pieces are from silk scarves bought in Bali in May for this purpose. I previously used this beautiful red and gold, and another similar fabric of a vibrant purple  from fabric I had  bought about ten years ago. After much searching, and a visit to the fabric market at Klung Kung, I found that although there are many gilded fabrics that look similar to these, they are all polyester, and not suitable for bookcloth. One must use pure cotton or silk, which is then laminated to kozo paper.

imageAt Klung Kung market in February I found a navy and white pure cotton man’s headcloth  from which I have  made one piece of bookcloth so far. It will be very robust and look good too. When I got home, it occurred to me that I could make bookcloth from the silk scarves that are available everywhere in Bali. So in May, I bought these three scarves. The blue one at the top is not as blue as it has photographed. More a burgundy/tan colour with some blue and magenta. I think it is my favourite.


The pink has photographed true to colour, though the one with the peacock green pattern is brighter.

peacock_scarf Three scarves (and a headcloth) make a LOT of bookcloth. Each scarf has used a whole sheet of kozo paper. The silk is not very robust. When I made my first piece of bookcloth, I thought I had damaged the silk in the process, but once I went on to make the others, I saw that the silk, which is finer than silk I have used for bookcloth before, has many small flaws and I am not making them worse. See close-up. peacock_scarf_flaws

I’m not sure how the silk will last  ‘in the field’. The books are intended for the 30th anniversary of my first trip to Bali in 1986. We have enough bookcloth though, that should it become too ragged, we can make new covers.



Filed under artist's book, Bali, book art, sketchbook, Travel

The turtle fountain

tortoise_fountainIn the garden at Cendana Hotel are many wonders. Among them is the turtle fountain. Not far from our room, we walked past it a number of times before realising that it was inhabited by quite a number of turtles. Three or four big ones and two babies. This one with the colourful shell is one of the babies.

Having turned over two pages at a time in my sketchbook, I needed to rectify this by doing extra sketches to fill the empty space, so one hot afternoon I sat in a pavilion and sketched the turtle fountain.

imageSo much wildlife at Cendana! Turtles, cats, Bird and two other caged birds, plus wild swallows flying over the pool at the back of the hotel. In the ricefields right next door  ducks and herons, and dragonflies, both orange and green. No monkeys. Although it is in the Monkey Forest Road, we are well up the road from the forest itself.

rambutan_umbrellaThe umbrella was sketched on a different day at Rambutan hotel, to fill the other empty page. Ceremonial umbrellas are such a feature of Bali. It’s good to get one or two in the sketchbook to capture the flavour of the place.


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