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Discover Bali: Balinese Painting at Five Art Studio in Ubud

I was looking for an authentic space around Bali's most cultural neighbourhood Ubud, where I could learn some Balinese art. "Five Art Studio" drew my attention as the one offering the whole array of traditional art classes taught by the local artists.

Keliki miniature painting seemed to be an intriguing option, which would push me out of the comfort zone of expressive painting. The style is named after the village, where it emerged in the 70s when a local farmer I Ketut Sana combined the line drawing of Ubud school and the details of the Batuan school.

With the teacher called Putu, whose playlist has revealed he is a fan of Coldplay 🎶

However, when I cautiously got on the scooter after many years of roaming the world on foot, little did I know that this class was going to require a great deal of patience and a very light hand. The long-drawn ride made my hands shake, though. Neither Wayan, the owner of the art studio, nor Putu, the teacher, seemed to care about my apology for running late. Only later I would find out that these people don't count the hours, they make the hours count.

So the process has begun... God, give me patience!

As soon as I sat down at the studio, out of the heap of small but particularly detailed paintings I got to pick one, which would be copied during the class. Which Hindu god or goddess should I summon?.. I wonder a little. Here's this intimidating god of power. But what exactly is power? Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning sounds like a more rewarding choice.

My souvenir that I brought home 😍

Only when I started copying was I warned it would take about three days to create the picture (with loooong breaks I assume). Challenge accepted: we will see, what will emerge after the class which is supposed to last three hours... By focusing on the details that mattered in the moment, I got completely, blissfully lost in time. The class was a real school of patience. I wasn't used to dwelling on the details neither in life, nor in art, but the teacher helped to go the right direction and finish the work in five hours.

The view from the studio.

Five hours of sketching with pencil, outlining with ink, and painting with acrylics were accompanied by the usual sounds of the village: water drizzling in the front yard and rain drops dancing on the roof, crowing roosters, and even a piglet being slaughtered in the nearby homes... Genuine Balinese village experience.

A 3-hour class got extended to 5 and here I'm holding Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning.

Finally, I was so excited to bring the artwork, which I had the pleasure making, home! So much more valuable than any kind of a souvenir. I'll definitely come back for more art-making, even therapeutic experience when I'm back in Ubud.

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