Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rice paddies along Sideman Road

Still practicing for the art exchange I agreed to do, oh so long ago. I worked on (more like overworked) this painting of the rice paddies that are beautifully terraced on the slopes of Mt. Agung. Balinese rice (nasi) is by far the best rice I have ever tasted and and is served at most meals here in Bali. It so delicious and fragrant, especially when cooked with lemongrass, salam leaf and ginger. The Nasi Kuning (yellow rice) is to die for. 
I have just about every kind of paint, pens, pencils and crayons on this sketch. Back to the drawing board.

Friday, March 27, 2009

All day I just listened

Nyepi is the Balinese "Day of Silence" and when I say silent, I am not kidding. Everything is totally closed down including the international airport, Ngurah Rai—no flights in or out. There are no cars, motorbikes or people on the streets and everyone is expected to be home, quiet, lights off, TV off, no phones...virtually a day of silence. This day of silent self-reflection starts at 6 am and goes to 6 am the following day.

I got up to another hot clear Bali morning but with only the sweet sound of doves. No motorbikes? Not being able to go out to take my morning walk, I realized I was in for the day and it was only 8 am. So, I put on a sarong, fixed myself a Bali Kopi and wandered out into the garden. I started to listen to the sounds around me and I began to write down what I heard. Of course, I don't speak bird or insect so I am not sure of the spelling, but it was quite fun and a marvelous experience. Along with an occasional dog all I heard was nature. 

It was a wonderful day until it got dark and than I got busted by the local "banjar" for having my one light too bright. It seemed to be reflecting off the thatched roof overhang. So at 7:30 pm, by very low light, I was hunkered down in the bedroom reflecting upon my day and sketching this post. When I awakened today, I was a little sad that Nyepi was over. I believe the Balinese have something here with Nyepi. It is good to take a day to just sit, watch and listen without the noise and distractions of everyday life. To just be. I'm not sure I have ever done this before, but I hope to do it again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The magnificent ogoh-ogoh are demonic creatures paraded up and down the streets of virtually every village in Bali on the day before Nyepi. Made of used paper and cement they are symbols of bad spirits. At the end of the day's ceremonies, the ogoh-ogoh are burned as a symbol of the winning of "Dharma—truth and good" against "Adharma—evil and bad". The eve of Nyepi is a night of noise and carrying on of all sorts with instruments, yelling and fireworks to attract the attention of the evil spirits on the last day of the year. When the evil spirits arrive just before dawn on Nyepi day, we are all hiding and quiet. The evil spirits look around and finding nothing of interest they leave for another year.

In January, the governing leaders decided to ban the making of ogoh-ogoh this year because it might disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Nyepi and would coincide closely with the upcoming elections. According to others, it was feared that some of the ogoh-ogoh might possibly resemble some of the candidates. I sketched these creatures from pictures in the local newspaper, books and photos adding some of my own touches. I could have painted them all day!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gamelan Rindik

The Rindik is made from Bamboo cut to various lengths, each providing a different tone and creating a light and airy sound that I hear on my walks along the beach. One resort has these guys tapping away close to the edge of the property so I popped in. They liked that I was interested, listening, watching and sketching. It is said that playing the Rindik will enable you to find balance between the left and right side of your brain. As a material, bamboo is readily available and inexpensive in Bali, allowing practically any musician to own an instrument and play. Bamboo Gamelans are a large part of Balinese folk tradition, and most musicians are not professionals. Their participation is about their contribution to the community and the joy of music making.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Spirit Cafe

Late Sunday afternoon we wandered down to the beach and landed at the Spirit Cafe. We ordered cappuccinos and I sketched while we listened to the music. Sleeping next to the band was this Bali dog. Obviously, well cared for and wearing a collar, this was his home. The wait-staff were wearing t-shirts (which I now own one) that supported the Bali Street Dog Foundation which is working to reduce the number of unhealthy and neglected dogs in Bali and improving the health of the existing dogs. It is such a sad existence for the one million dogs that live on the streets without a constant food source and it breaks my heart to see this everyday. Sometimes it is hard to live here...

Feet on the dash

Last weekend we "rear-ended" the people we were following (I know, I know) to a party on the other side of the island in wild crazy busy Bali traffic going about 25 miles an hour. Their car has minor scratches, but our rental car has a very wrinkled hood. Supposedly the Balinese believe it is bad luck to have a dented vehicle—uh oh. So while I was sketching my feet, waiting for Jerry to pick up airline tickets, I had a stream of concerned people pointing, staring and asking how it happened. Of course, most of the concerned, spoke very little English and my Indonesian is okay, but I did not know any of the words to explain this mishap. So out of the car I got and acted out the crash scenario several times until Jerry returned to find me in the middle of my one act play. We still drive around with the big dent and my act is still running.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting around Bali

It is very much the "high" holidays here in Bali. Last week was Galungan and next week is Ogoh-Ogoh and Nypei. Dressed in beautiful traditional clothing most Balinese traveled to the ceremonies on their "motors". Sidesaddle seems to be the popular way when wearing a sarong and carrying a Gebogan. The Gebogan made of fruit and flowers would eventually be carried on her head into the temple.

Missing the Soph's

I love to wander through Roz Stendal's journal pages. Visiting her blog Roz Wound Up is a daily habit of mine which is filled with technical information and creative stimulation. I especially like her use of gouache which I continue to struggle with, but I get them out every so often and give them a try! Her March 10th post suggested we celebrate dogs and go out and find one to draw. I'm a little late, but here's Sophie in gouache from a photo before our last walk. I really miss my best pal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Today was Galungan, which is one of the most important reoccurring celebrations in Bali. During this celebration the deified ancestors descend on their former family homes and must suitably be entertained and welcomed with prayers and offerings. It is quite colorful with bamboo penjors decorating most of the island. We had offerings placed in several places in our villa—the pool, kitchen, garden and front door, by a Balinese couple from the neighborhood because at one time this property was surely inhabited by Balinese.  Since the former inhabitants were probably around today, they would have expected it. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Goodbye Maine

Just before I left the USA, I just had to slop the watercolors around on this crazy Yupo before we got on the plane...hello? This is what Maine will look like when I return, in June, when we enjoy the most beautiful time of year on the Casco Bay. I have arrived in Bali and many of my friends have pointed to my skin and said "putih" which means "white". Well, hell, I've been swathed in black fleece and down for two months in that frozen tundra we call home. 
Time to unpack and get outside...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sushi Rolls—Different Strokes for Different Folks

Last night, I decided to try for the first time, Karin Jurick's wonderful project, Different strokes for Different Folks. Some would call me crazy being I am traveling to Indonesia today, but I couldn't help slopping the watercolors around on this Yupo before I packed my paints and brushes in my luggage. It's a bit of a mess and quite a challenge for this self taught watercolorist, but I had to be brave and submit my first one. Then the rest will be easy?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Death of the Snowman

The Snowman, 3 months, of Portland Maine, met his demise on Saturday March 7, 2009

The actual date of birth of the Snowman is unknown, but he came to live with Sophie in December 2008 after she stole him from the toy box of the dog next door. He lived an active life romping with Sophie and her other toys. He loved to be scooped up, given a good couple of shakes, dragged around the room and then getting his nose gnawed on. He suffered major complications over the weekend and we were unable to save him. Both eyes were missing, the hat was hanging by a thread and stuffing and beans were coming out of a large hole in his side. It was time to say goodbye.

The Snowman is survived by Sophie, the Meercat, the chicken (also stolen), the monkey and the old squirrel.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Enjoying a warm day and Yupo

The snow banks don't have a chance when it is sunny and 58°.  Everyone was out and about  today. Walking in The Old Port and along the water, enjoying afternoon drinks on the deck of the Brian Boru and some brave souls were even in shorts. But, don't put that parka away because tomorrow it's going to snow. We walked around and sniffed a lot...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Practicing for art exchange

As I mentioned below, I am involved in an art exchange with some very talented artists. I considered sending each of them an illustration of one of Sophie's dog toys, but I'm not sure that is what Sharon had in mind when she invited me to join this exchange. In-between making piles and remaking the piles of stuff to get packed for Bali, I wander back into my studio (I use that word loosely) and splash the watercolors around hoping to find a direction. A sure sign of spring because irises are in the stores now. I stole from the vase upstairs. 

Art Exchange

Long, long ago, in January, while I was still warm and living in tropical Bali, I was honored with an invitation to join in an art exchange. Sharon of Flat Sound of Wooden Clogs invited me along with several other talented artists to make this exchange a fun winter project. Of course, my old buddies insecurity, inadequacy and fear came to visit. How could I possibly be part of an exchange with my crazy style. Admittedly, I am a bit of an impatient scribbler. I draw and paint cold New England buildings, unusual Indonesian/Balinese experiences and observations, cats and dogs I don't even know, Sophie and most recently her dog toys. But I said "yes, I'll do it". Of course, I haven't done it yet...but, others have...

Watercolor by Laura Starrett (5"X7")

This watercolor arrived a few days ago from Laura at Laura's Watercolors. I love her style, just look at the reflections of the boats in the water, and her blog is a joy to visit. Thank you Laura for this wonderful watercolor. It is in my studio where I can see it everyday. Of course, it also reminds me that I am a bit of a deadbeat...

Collage by Sherry Thurner (8"x10")

Sherry of Late B(l)oomer does the most amazing collages. Did you see her most recent Virtual Sketch Date collage of Lake Louise here? I had quite admired the above collage she had done for the January VSD and now, it hangs in my studio. How cool is that! Thank you Sherry.

So all the participants will get art from beautiful Bali...soon...I hope...

Monday, March 2, 2009


We awakened to 10" of light powdery snow this morning. Sophie charged out the door and realized that this was going to be a bit more difficult than usual, but that didn't stop her. She loves snow (way more than me) and bounded through the powder to find "the perfect place". Dragging me behind her, we both became coated with snow. It sticks and mats into her fur and she stops to chews it off her paws. Me, well, I'm just a big black blob of parka, fleece, and Uggs coated with the damn stuff.