I remember a batik painting my parents had in our house growing up – I think it was a wedding scene or a procession of some kind – mostly in reds, maroons, browns and oranges. Batik is art that is created by dyeing cloth and using wax (the technique we learned) to help create designs. All I really knew about it was that the end result was a cloth painting. But the process was absolutely fascinating!
Side note: Our batik painting class was on a small street – if you are at the restaurant Nomads, make a left onto the small street. There was a batik painting class called Nirvana that was probably a little more structured, but way pricier, and wouldn’t let Samir and I work on the same thing. The class after Nirvana (Instructor: I. Nyoman Warta) was cheaper (350k for one batik that we shared) and I liked the guy teaching it. Also, the class we took said we could stay as long as we needed to finish our batik whereas Nirvana (and ARMA for that matter) had a time limit or an extra hourly charge.
Summary of our batik steps:
We started with a blank white cotton cloth already stretched/stapled onto a simple wood frame. The instructor asked what we wanted to paint. I absolutely love elephants and monkeys, so we said elephants and flowers. He sketched, with pencil, a rough drawing of the head of an elephant – which actually turned out looking like Ganesha.
After class, we went to the market to look at some of the lovely art we had seen during our market tour. I was determined to buy something if we found something that we LOVED since we were closer to the end of our trip and carrying a painting around (or possibly shipping it) wouldn’t be as burdensome. We looked through several shops, but after awhile, we kept on seeing a lot of the same types of paintings. Tons of Buddhas in all different styles – we actually found one we both liked and we almost got it, but at the end of the day, Buddha just doesn’t speak to me – we had the same problem in Thailand – found an excellent painting of Buddha that was beautiful – but couldn’t do it. Samir got tired of looking at stuff and finally headed back to our homestay while I kept looking. I looked at a couple Ganeshas, but again, Ganesha doesn’t speak to me either. I thought it was interesting that there were so many Buddha paintings considering Bali is like 90% Hindu – but I guess people paint for what tourists want. There were a lot of nice abstracts but I noticed the more and more I looked at stuff, the less anything stood out. There were a couple of really striking portraits that depicted Balinese life/people, but nothing that I thought I could appreciate day in and day out. Finally, I left the market area and headed back to our homestay. But, as Samir mentioned before, art shops and galleries are everywhere. I stopped at one of the galleries on the way back because something in the artists’ style caught my eye (though I didn’t love that particular piece). Really liked one of his abstracts and talked about it with him for a few minutes – but I got the sense that he was just making up stuff and didn’t really put as much thought into it (i.e., I was reading more into it then he put into it). Dejected, I walked away and wandered into a housing compound that had paintings displayed in all different areas. And finally, something truly caught my eye. It’s a very simple painting and the topic is prob a bit cliché to some (a couple watching the sunset) but I looked at it and thought ‘It’s us!’ – watching so many sunsets – on the beach, in the desert, in the mountains…and I liked the symmetry (funny how I like that in some artwork but not in photographs), the bold primary colors, the right amount of texture, clean lines and semi-abstract looking people. I even love that the artist didn’t try make the sky look all fancy and put too many colors in the sky like a normal sunset would have or try to define the landscape – it brings focus to the sun and the couple. And the outfits of the people give it an Asian feel to it without being over the top. So, finally, I found something that spoke to me – something that speaks to the many lovely memories we’ve had so far on our honeymoon in Asia and will hopefully continue to have!