6 art classes to try in Bali

There’s no better place in Indonesia to take art classes than in Bali, an island known around the world for its artistic tradition. Indeed, it seems that everywhere you look, you find traces of man-made beauty. From the ornamentation on the temples to the etchings on the sidewalks to the attention and care given to daily offerings set out on the street, art oozes from every crack.

When you’re surrounded by so much beauty, it’s natural that you’ll want to flex your own creative muscles. Thankfully, Bali has an array of art classes intended to give visitors an introduction to traditional craft.

1. Batik making
The Indonesian art of batik involves a complex process of wax application and painting on fabric. Museum Puri Lukisan in Ubud holds private courses for Rp. 450,000 (about $50). Create your own work from scratch, or choose from a number of traditional templates. All materials are included, as well as a delicious Balinese lunch and entrance to the museum, which houses a collection of contemporary art.2. Silversmithing
Learn how to pierce, solder, and shape your own silver ring or pendant at Studio Perak, one of Ubud’s most popular jewelry workshops. Your masterpiece may not turn out as polished as the pieces on display, but they’ll certainly come with a great story. A half-day workshop costs Rp. 350,000 (about $39) and includes 5 grams of silver to play with.

3. Textile appreciation
It’s pretty impossible to be in Bali longer than five minutes and not have have an appreciation for Indonesian textiles. But if you want to dive deeper, try the lectures at Threads of Life, an Ubud non-profit that works to revive traditional textile traditions throughout Indonesia. “Introducing the Textiles of Bali and Indonesia” will teach you about various batik, ikat, and traditional weaving techniques, while “Textiles & Their Place in Indonesian Culture” explores the history and traditional uses of textiles in the region.


4. Life model drawing
All artists are welcome to Ubud Life Model Sessions, held at Pranato’s Art Gallery in Ubud. For just Rp. 20,000 (about $2), you can join Pranato, his Australian wife Kerry, and a mixed group of ex-pats and visitors for three-hour sketching sessions twice a week. The gallery also features rotating exhibitions and an impressive array of Indonesian and international art.

5. Ceramics
Live out your Ghost fantasy — we know you have one — at Sari Api Ceramics Studio, just outside Ubud. A beautiful open-air space run by a Swiss ex-pat, Sari Api offers half day private ceramics workshops for Rp. 450,000 (about $50) or a more intensive eight-session course for Rp. 1,750,000 (about $192).

6. Painting
The Bali Center for Artistic Creativity in Ubud offers individual art classes as well as longer custom-tailored courses. A single class will run you Rp. 450,000 (about $50) for three hours of instruction and basic materials. The Center also runs university credit courses and art therapy programs.

Galley Gossip: Ask a flight attendant – Positano, Italy

While on a flight to Stansted, England, on our way to Venice, the New York based international flight attendant working on my side of the cabin eyed the book, Frommer’s Italy 2008, in my hands as she poured a little cream into my coffee. “Are you going to Italy?”

“We are,” I said, nodding my head at the husband who was asleep beside me. When she placed the cup of coffee on my tray table, I said, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. So where exactly are you going in Italy?”

Venice, Positano and Rome. Have you been?”

The flight attendant laughed, “Have I been? Too many times to count!” Click went the break of the cart. “I’ll be back as soon as I’m done with the service.” And like that she was gone, off to the next row where she offered the passengers behind us coffee, tea, cordials and dessert.

Want to know good, yet affordable, places to go, and eat, on your next vacation? Ask a flight attendant. Flight attendants are much like cops in respect to knowing great places to visit. Yet unlike cops, flight attendants aren’t just familiar with one city, they know the ins and outs of many different cities. Don’t believe me? Just ask the flight attendant on your next trip. You’ll see.

Ten minutes later the flight attendant was back at my row, a pen in hand. She placed a piece of paper on my tray table, a customs and immigrations form, and flipped it over. On the back she wrote the word POSITANO, and then began to draw as she said, “I go to Positano two to three times a year. Here’s what you need to do…”

“What?” said the husband who was now leaning over my shoulder.

“Positano,” I said. “She’s giving us the scoop on Positano.”

“My favorite place in the whole world,” said the flight attendant.

What I didn’t know at the time was Positano would soon become my favorite place in the whole world, too. It’s that amazing. That beautiful. And the food…absolutely delish! It’s the kind of place where you can just relax, sitting on your ocean view balcony, and let Italy come to you.

“Now this is the Doma.” She placed her finger on a sketchy looking arch. Then she marked a spot with an X. “Right here is a ceramics store. You’ve got to go here. This is where I bought the most beautiful set of ceramic plates. They’re gorgeous. Brown with red in the center and white around the edge, they’re perfect for the Valentine’s day dinner I host every year at my house.”

‘We’ll have to look for those,” I told the husband, and meant it. I wanted Valentine’s day plates, too!

And look over there – we found them, the beautiful Valentine’s day plates! At the store. Just like she said. But for some reason we didn’t buy them. Now I wish we had. Next time. Trust me, there will be a next time.

Three X’s marked the spots of good places to eat. “This is where you want to get your morning coffee. It’s right on the beach.” A box was drawn. “This is the gas station where you can buy bus tickets that will take you to Ravello and the Amalfi Coast.”

“We’re definitely doing that,” I told the husband.

And we did. Though we did it by scooter, not bus. What an amazing and unforgettable ride.

More X’s and boxes were drawn, as suggestions and recommendations were made. We only had three nights in Positano, so I was starting to wonder if we’d even have time for all of the things she wanted us to do, things we just had to do! Honestly, I think she was just as excited about our trip, if not more so, than we were! And this was our honeymoon trip – five years late.

Our trip to Italy in May was fantastic, and Positano, without a doubt, was the highlight. Heavenly is the only word to describe it. I can’t wait to go back. So if you’re reading this, Miss New York international business class flight attendant, thanks for the advice. And if you, dear reader, are thinking about going to Positano, here are my suggestions to you…