Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sangat pagi-pagi

These Balinese roosters get going very early in the morning (sehari pagi-pagi). They crow all day long along with cooing doves, croaking toads, chirping cicaks (small geckos) and tokeks (large geckos) and the constant sound of motorbikes going up and down the street. Just another peaceful day in paradise...

Flocks of chickens wander freely and everywhere before they become makan (food). I see them roaming in grassy lots along the beach, in-town and on the highways, pecking away at the ground and often times Hindu prayer offerings. They usually scurry off when I to sneak up on them with my camera. So I did these quick watercolor sketches from blurry photos. I decided to try to paint without a pen or pencil line. It was fun to just move paint around.

Selamat datang

We eat out a lot. Food is fairly inexpensive here and quite delicious, as long as I can manage the amount of chillis and sambal in the dishes. We had to step over this sleeping Bali dog to get into a restaurant the other night. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas in Bali

Our only holiday decoration was this bouquet of flowers I clipped from our tropical garden and stuck in a water glass. Quite beautiful sitting on the low coffee table with late afternoon light streaming in. 

It is the rainy season—musim hujan, now in Bali, so the days are mostly overcast and very hot and steamy. Hujan sehari-hari, it rains almost everyday. We awakened on Christmas morning to dry air, clear blue skies and a gentle breeze. What a wonderfult gift. A six mile walk on the beach and then grilled fish at the water's edge watching the sunset. A perfect holiday!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday lunch at Detlev's

We ventured to Canggu for a late afternoon and most delicious Balinese meal with Detlev and 25 of his friends, two German Sheppards and a few Bali dogs. An very interesting crowd of Americans, Germans, Indonesians, Italians and Japanese. I was able to get a comfortable seat where I could sketch, enjoy a glass of wine, meet new people and engage in interesting conversations. It doesn't get much better than that.

Detlev's villa in Canggu

Looking at the pool and pavilion from the open-air great room. Just beyond are rice fields and the beach.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Art is everywhere

At the far end of the beach path, there is a grouping of small warungs (food stalls). They are thatched roof, open-air, bamboo buildings with tables on the sand. In amongst the signs, boats, shrines, motorbikes and other stuff, looms this wonderful, sculptural pathlight. It is quite large and I marvel at its artfulness and unlikely location, daily.

Life drawing in Bali

A few sketches from Saturday afternoon life drawing. It was so humid that tiny droplets of sweat were dripping onto my sketch paper. I was always told that horses sweat, men perspire and woman glow. Well, in that second floor studio, yesterday, I was really glowing.

Jakarta, Indonesia

We spent a day and a half in Jakarta. It was hot, humid, smoggy and crowded. I could hardly wait to get back home to Bali. I was not at all inspired to sketch, but did manage a few quick sketches during my day.
Rush hour from the window of our hotel room on the 38th floor.

This was a very quick sketch as I was taking a cab back to the hotel. This guy was selling goldfish in plastic bags hanging on this apparatus on the back of his bike. I thought I had seem it all... 

Gray rainy morning view from our hotel room.

Monday, December 22, 2008

EDM challenge #81: a streetlight

We had dinner at a beach cafe last night—fresh fish grilled over coconut husks. When we looked up at this streetlight there was a swarm of small flying insects like I've never seen in my life. Of course each light along the way had its own swarm. And I thought Maine had bugs.

The luncheon

Our feral bobtail cat stops by every other day for a snack. The menu doesn't change much—sardines or Friskies. However, yesterday he spent all Sunday with us, napping on the roof of one of the small buildings, then some time watching me watch him. In the afternoon he had a quick snack, another cat nap and by evening he was gone again to cat around in the hood.

Friday, December 19, 2008

EDM challenge: draw a bar of soap

I bought some oatmeal soap a while back to keep in a dish by the sink. About a week ago we saw a few teeth marks in the bar. Thinking whoever was snacking on that soap couldn't possibly feel very good, but everyday the bar gets smaller and smaller. It's obviously a real treat for some rodent who has a feast every night in the bathroom while we are asleep. Life is just different here!

The cosmopolitan side of Bali

I jumped on the scooter and spent the morning in town. Sketched quickly and discreetly at the Cafe Batu-Jimbar while enjoying a Bali Kopi. You have to be pretty sneaky to do this...


The Balinese use every part of the coconut tree. The husks are used for coir mats and ropes, the inner layer is used for buttons and a lot fish gets grilled over the husks. The leaves are woven into hats, baskets, offerings, temple decorations and ketupot which are woven shapes used to cook rice. The meat and milk are used in many Balinese foods and cosmetics. They even use the roots as a medicine.

These coconuts look more like giant green olives...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Made (Ma-day) #2 child

I have seen Made many times on my beach walks. I was surprised when he came and sat for us in life drawing on Saturday. He spoke no English and seemed a little nervous—who wouldn't be with seven Bule staring at you. He sat very still and let us draw his wonderful face.

The Balinese believe that a persons name is very important and can affect a child's life. Their naming system involves factors such as caste, clan, birth order, sex of the child and parents choice. Here is the short version.
First child—Gede, Wayan or Putu
Second child—Made, Kadek or Nengah
Third child—Nyoman or Komang
Fourth child—Ketut
And then they start all over again. So number #5 child in the family may also be named Wayan. We have met many people with all these names. One Balinese said since modern families are getting smaller, Bali may one day be a country of just Wayan's and Made's. That cracked me up!

I'm not sure if Made in the above drawing is #2, #6 or #10...

Seni anjing—Dog art

An expat artist I met asked if I had seen any Bali dogs dressed up or painted. Thinking back, I actually had seen a dog wearing a t-shirt, but painted? I couldn't believe it! So upon leaving a restaurant in Seminyak on Saturday night, this white Bali dog trots past us with neon pink spray paint streaks and patches all over him. I scurried after him with my camera leaving Jerry to explain my obsession with dogs to our new friends. I am still pondering this phenomena.

Where's the rest of your tail?

I found this paper at Hardy's called Kertas Pembungkus Makanan which means wrapping paper for food. I have noticed many people on the beach eating rice dishes off sheets of this brown kraft type paper. One side has a coating to keep the Bumbu and Sambal sauces from leaking through. I am using the non-coated side to sketch with pens and colored pencils. I then collaged this beach cat  sketch into my small moleskine. 
So far, there is no sign of any cat in Bali with a normal length tail...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Salsa dancing contest

This was not easy and thank god for my new kacamata (eyeglasses). Now this was multitasking—sketching in very low light, trying to capture the movement, chatting with friends and drinking wine. Now, it's all about salsa—more salsa sketching and soon salsa dancing lessons. 

Enjoying the show

The salsa dancing contest was in a bar at a big hotel on the beach in Sanur. It was very low light so the woman at the table next to us had no idea that I was sketching her. Besides, she was mesmerized.

Mamis and Melody

This is Mamis and her daughter Melody. Mamis is an amazing seamstress. She and her husband have a shop across the street from our villa and next door to the Kalimantan restaurant. It is called "Mamis Shop Made to Order". It is a small building with a large open window with two sewing machines where Mamis and a young woman work as people come and go along Jalan Pantai Sinhu. After a long day the opening is closed with a piece of plywood. She doesn't speak any English, but with my little Indonesian and acting abilities, she has made me some beautifully fitting clothes. Melody is the darling of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Selamat ulang tuhun

This is my best friend Jerry. It is his seafood business that has taken us from Portland, Maine to the island of Bali. It is his birthday today. Happy Birthday, Jer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hari Natal from Bali

Living in a mainly Hindu and Muslim country means Christmas (Hari Natal) is not celebrated. However, many Balinese merchants do their part to help us expats get in the spirit and hopefully spend more money. There are some crazy looking pohon Natal (Christmas trees) around town. This one happens to be at the Kalimantan restaurant, across the street, where I enjoy a Bali Kopi, everyday. It is fake or plastique, leans to the right, has lots of foil garland, a few red ornaments, some cotton that is suppose to resemble snow and an exposed tree stand. My favorite part is the lowest strand of lights that hangs almost to the ground. Saya cinta pohon kecil ini.

Monday, December 8, 2008


A contour drawing of a young girl waiting for a ride home. I added the watercolor when I got home.

Most people in Bali drive motorbikes. After two months of thinking they were all crazy, we bought one. I spent many hours studying every model of bike and scooter on the road. We thought we might like a vintage Vespa, but they sound like a lawnmower in need of a tune-up. We ended up with a Piaggio Fly—sooooooooo cool!


I covered up a terrible watercolor sketch with some gouache and did a quick brush pen sketch of this paddle of ducks down the street. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My new cat

This wild cat spends evenings in our garden hunting for food. I have also spotted him with a mouse running past the tables in the open-air restaurant across the street. This is his hood. On Thanksgiving he sat on the front step so we tossed him some grouper. He ran when we approached with the fish, but as soon as we walked away he  managed to get up the courage and down on that grouper. He got quite a bit of fish and probably ended up lying on his back with a big full tummy sleeping off his Thanksgiving dinner. He is wild and will never be sleeping at the foot of our bed, but he is a good mouser and I continue to toss him food when we are home. Last night, when I walked out of the kitchen, he was crouched in this Frangipani tree giving me a tiny pitiful meow. Luck was with him as I found a can of sardines. After his snack he took off and watched from his perch on the roof. 


I ran across this cute little guy intently watching some ants.

Can I have some?

Sweet skinny Bali cat looking anxiously at us while we swatted flies and tried to eat lunch at a small warung in Tulamben. The flies won and so did this kitty with the uneaten sate tidbits.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Balinese ingenuity"

We saw  this dog in Depensar wearing this "Elizabethan collar". He was in front of his home barking at all of us passing by—just like a dog! The collar was a flowerpot with a rope attached that was then loosely tied around his chest. I felt bad for him, but our visiting veterinarian friend said he probably had some skin irritation and this was keeping him from scratching his fur off. He is quite right right because he had quite a coat of fur. So many of the Bali dogs have patchy coats with areas where there is no fur because that are riddled with mange and skin irritations. It is sad and very distressing to see them scratch. It breaks my heart...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cruisin' & snoozin'

This little guy was on a mission the other morning. Coming towards me on the beach path and passing without even a glance in my direction. A self assured busy Bali beach dog.

When the heat of midday sets in, many Balinese will find some shade and take a short nap. Too hot do do much else. The same is true for the Bali dogs who will just plop down in some shady place along their  journey. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Makan malam

This Bali dog was quite interested in my dinner (malan makam) at Jimbaran beach the other night. You pick your own fish, they grill it over coconut husks and you eat at tables that go down to the waters edge. It is quite delicious and a very festive place to eat. There are Bali beach dogs everywhere.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life drawing in Bali

Although, I draw from life around me everyday, this was the first time I have gone to an actual life drawing session. I noticed the sign when we first moved here and finally got up the nerve to join this past Saturday. It was two hours in an open-air space in the center of Sanur village. Because of pending pornography  legislation from Jakarta, models should not pose nude until the situation is resolved. So they wore sarongs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mr. Bill

Mr. Bill (notice the large red bill) is one of the birds that live across the street at the Kalimantan. A restaurant owned by an expat from Denver Colorado, named Bob, who has lived in bali for 18 years. We frequent his place for quick meals and some good old American political discussions. CNN is usually on thee TV at the bar, unless Bob is away and the girls are in charge and then it is Indonesian soap operas. A local watering hole with an very eclectic menu. He serves a Wyoming breakfast and many other American classics along with Mexican and Indonesian food. They are all helping us learn to speak Indonesian.


Jamu is the ancient Indonesian art of herbal healing. I discovered jamu at the market in Klungkung last weekend and have since read a few books. It is quite an interesting tradition of inner and outer beauty that is based on natural ingredients in different combinations to cure and prevent every disease known to man. The ginger or Zineberaceae family are the stars with Turmeric being the superstar of jamu. Along with close to 1,000 other species that are used in the preparation of Indonesia's traditional medicine.

Jamu gendong

This is a jamu seller. Most jamu gendong have clients and set out early in the morning and late in the afternoon to deliver their products. At a traditional market you will see it being sold along with everything else. After becoming aware of jamu, I started to notice a few jamu gendong around Sanur. I chased this jamu gendong, who delivers on her bicycle, down the jalan (street) the other day. She got away, but not before I snapped a photo as she raced to her clients.

Kunir Asem by Jamu "Jendong"

I made my first batch of jamu, yesterday and did this very quick sketch as I assembled the ingredients to make Kunir Asem. Turmeric, tamarind, palm sugar to taste, 1 1/2 glasses of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil in a saucepan and chill. Turmeric has quite a staining power on fingers and can you imagine what it could do to teeth! So, I delicately hold it with my fingers and drink my jamu with a straw.

Dog day afternoon

Sometimes I only have the energy to draw with a pen in my Moleskine and leave the watercolors at home.  I love watching and drawing the Bali dogs.

Anjing bagus #6

Anging bagus #7

Anjing Bagus #8

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Balinese Republican

At the Ulu Watu temple they tied sarongs around our waists because we were wearing shorts. When they found out we were from the USA they wanted to talk about how happy they were about Obama being our president. We hear "Obama bagus" from just about everyone. They did point to this guy and said he would have voted for McCain. I said "Republican?" and he smiled and gave me the thumbs up. I think he may be the only Balinese Republican on the island.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pasar klungkung

Before I took a Balinese cooking class we went to a traditional pasar (market) in the village of Klungkung. We were the only Bule (Caucasions) and I am far taller than most Balinese. It was an amazing experience to see all the unusual and delicious food being sold—cheap! I sampled things I thought I would never try. It was not easy to see ducks being carried by their feet quaking away.

Ayam (chicken)—This hen and her chick were wandering around pecking away at the prayer offerings.
Cabe merah (red chilis)—These finger chilis are not very hot and they are one of the ingredients in Bumbu Bali which is the base of all Balinese cooking. We ground the ingredients with a mortar and pestle. I am now making Bumbu Bali at home with my new food processor.
Woman selling pisang (bananas) while having makan pagi (breakfast).