Tag Archives: Bali

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

Gate at Tirta Empul

tirta_empulI did this one before my May trip to Bali. It was from a photograph taken during my February trip, and it was experimental.  The gate is at Tirta Empul, where there are holy springs, but I think it was a private gate. Two men came out and looked at me strangely while I was taking the photograph. The light was falling beautifully on the different levels on the fence and I may well use this photograph again.

Holy springs at Tirta Empul

Holy springs at Tirta Empul

I sketched it with my Hero pen with water-soluble ink. I thought I had green ink in the pen but it turned out to be brown. Then I threw a lot of watercolour, allowed it to dry, then a bit more with the pen.


Filed under Bali, Hero pen, inks, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Light entertainment in the lounge

rat_orchidSad to leave. Tempted to stay. Nevertheless we caught our flight that evening. A late departure around midnight. A visitor before we left. My friend Nyoman who I have known for over twenty years. He brought us a farewell gift…….the wonderland KRUPUK with peanuts that we had at Mumbul. And now we know what they are called. ……REMPEYEK. Now we can ask for the by name. Write it down!  They’re yummy.

A quick meal at Cafe Wayan after checking out of our room, then into the car and off to Ngurah Rai airport.  Through all the usual trials of check-in and  immigration, but quick, with our priority pass. Then we settle in the Garuda business class lounge. Still the same underwhelming area, screened off from the main concourse.  Food – abysmal. However we asked for a glass of wine and got one . ONE. I said ‘What about my friend?’.

I settled down and started on my sketch. But there was something going on behind me. What’s happening? I asked Broni. There’s a RAT in the lounge, she said. Some passengers told the girl who had brought our drink. She squealed and ran away. The two girls from the reception desk came next. Some Aussie women in front of me, giving a bit of a running commentary said, “They’re holding hands ….THAT’LL be useful.”

By this time there was a buzz of very much suppressed mirth from the passengers. We continued munching our delicious rempeyek.  The girls came back accompanied by two boys with a shovel and brush. They chased the rat a bit, cornered it for a minute but it broke away. Came nearer to us. But the passengers weren’t upset – they were enjoying it too much. Finally the boys cornered the rat, killed it, and carried it out on a shovel. There’s a case for cats at Ngurah Rai airport, I think.

I believe the new Garuda business class lounge opens this month. Or maybe jam karet.

Yes, I will be flying Garuda next time.



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

The big tree at Mumbul

Woke up to rain on our last morning in Ubud. Stuck around the hotel waiting for it to stop. Packed the bag, then sat on the verandah to sketch the garden in the rain. Our flight was not leaving till midnight.

We decided to go back to Mumbul to have the same lunch again. Very friendly staff there. It is the main street of Ubud. It runs back from the street along the side of a huge ravine, with a terrace looking out over the ravine.

IMG_5065It was always a favourite in the past, due to Best Lemon Juice. We used to sit there and write postcards on hot mornings. Broni remembers going there on her first trip to Bali, twenty years ago. We sat under a huge tree and watched squirrels scamper about in the branches.

We mentioned to the waitress that it was a shame the tree had gone.. She said, yes, we had to get rid of it. We have accommodation at the back, and sometimes at night pit vipers would drop from the tree, because the ravine is full of them. We needed to stop that happening to our guests.    Over the other side of the ravine, some quite tasteful development is going on. I don’t think I will visit those places. I will stick to Mumbul and have more of their delicious prawn crackers with peanuts.


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


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