Art Hideaways


Nyepi the silent celebration

This March the Art-hideaways spring holiday coincides with the Balinese celebration of Nyepi, which is very exciting but a bit of  mystery to most people – so I thought I would write a little bit about Nyepi for those of you thinking about joining us.

Nyepi is a celebration of silence, of restraint and contemplation. Once a year the people of Bali in Indonesia stop everything, and think. The celebration of Nyepi is rather like our New years day it falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox, and opens a new year of the Saka Hindu era which began in 78 A.D.

This is a serious time for Bali, the airport is closed, street lights turned off and the only people on the streets are the Banjar Police who are strong young men elected by their community to police the area. The Banjar Police have the authority to inflict punishment if they catch you outside, or if they see a light after dark, you might be told to sweep the street or pay a fine. Most westerners respect Nypie by putting up blackout curtains, turning down TV’s and using dimmed lights or by checking into a hotel where the curtaining and such is done for you.

If silence and contemplation and being good are not your thing you will probably be very happy to hear that Nyepi is not all about silence.

The Balinese believe that good and bad happen together and must be in balance or else problems arise, so on the eve of Nyepi they take to the streets, carrying massive papier-mâché & bamboo monsters Ogoh-Ogoh. The monsters represent evils some have fangs, dreadful pendular breasts and bulging eyes, they carry wads of cash, big cigars, and mini-skirted maidens. Ogoh-Ogoh are very ugly which is exactly what they are supposed to be, they are there to remind us just how nasty our evils are. Starting at the village cross road because that is a place where bad spirits are known to lurk teams of men charge around a torch lit route. The men are challenged to keep going until they reach the end of the route which is tough. The Ogoh-Ogoh are huge, often attached to giant platforms that take twenty or more  men to lift, often the monster is a strange shape, tottering on high heels or staggering as if drunk off to one side.

Come midnight everything must be over, traditionally the Ogoh-Ogoh are taken to the sea and burnt which apparently confuses the evil spirits so much that they leave the Island for another year. Now starts Nyepi proper and absolute silence the bad spirits are fooled to stay away since there is nothing to entertain them and the people of Bali settle to family quiet and personal meditation.

Nyepi falls on March 31st this year, the spring Art-hideaways holiday starts on Friday 28th March – Sunday 6th April

For further information and to book visit or email me Sandy Infield;

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top tips when choosing an art holiday

Top tips when choosing an Art Holiday



What do you look for in an art holiday and what should you watch out for?

I hope my experience as an artist a teacher and a holiday organizer will help you choose the right art holiday for you.

vAsk and ask again

It is OK to ask the holiday organizer lots of questions, a good organizer will be happy to answer as many questions that it takes to make you feel confident and comfortable on your holiday.

 I have answered questions ranging from ‘I have a special diet can the hotels make provision for me?’ – To – “I really want to learn how to use oil paints but have never used them before can you teach me?’

If you ask a question and don’t get an adequate reply or if you have to wait for ages to get a reply ask again, and again! But if you wait too long or still feel that the reply you did get was a bit vague don’t book!


vWhere you will be staying


It is not unheard of for a holiday organizer to put their guests in a cheap hotel or in a tatty room, or worse to change your hotel without telling you. It is wise to do a bit of research, you can go to Trip advisor to check a hotel and you can ask the holiday organizer what your room will be like. It is not being fussy it is being sure of having a wonderful time.


vWhat are the transport arrangements?


Most art holidays promise excursions which is very exciting but how will you be getting there? Be wary of overcrowded mini busses, or hanging around while your guide hails taxis, will you be on a coach and if so, can you stop when you want to take a photo or look at a wonderful view?

Safety when traveling is very important, you should be driven by a qualified competent driver, your transport should have seat belts and the vehicle should be in good repair. All these things we take for granted when we are traveling in our home country but if you are going abroad it is not a given – don’t find out too late that your driver thinks he is in a formula one race- check before you go!



vIt takes a good teacher


If you are going on an art holiday you want to learn about art! So find out who your teacher is, have they any teaching qualifications, can they paint & draw? Seems incredible but many so called art holidays are run by happy amateurs, who did a night class in art and have a lovely cottage somewhere, that does not make them a good teacher nor does it mean that they know what they are talking about.


vIt takes time and space


Where will you be working, in a studio or in someone’s back room? How long will you be able to spend making art, learning technique, watching demonstrations or hearing talks, your itinerary should give you a few clues but if it doesn’t ask.


vWhat art materials should I take?


It is reasonable to be asked to take a couple of things on an art holiday, a sketch book perhaps or your favorite watercolours, brushes even pencils but you should not have to take anything if you don’t want to. The holiday provider should have all the materials you will need during your stay. Some holidays carry a few materials and expect you to buy what you will need, this is Ok so long as the prices are fare and not jacked up especially for you.

 It is not a good idea to travel with bag loads of liquids, nor a good idea to exhaust yourself dragging reams of paper across airports. The holiday information should give you an idea but if you are not sure ask.


vShould I be able to paint already?


Even Leonardo da Vinci started somewhere, normally you don’t have to be experienced, trained or even gifted to join an art holiday, in fact most art holidays are geared up for the raving beginner, but just in case check.  If however you are already a Da Vinci in the making you will need to be stretched and have tutor time to learn even if some of your fellow holiday members are beginners. It is important that your teacher knows where you are artistically and if you have tequnical/creative issues you want to cover during your stay, so don’t be shy let them know.


vFinal Word


It would be impossible to put every question on a web site so if in doubt ask! You are not being demanding and the teacher will still like you even if you send him/her twenty emails before you get there, it is better for everyone in the long run honestly.


Sandy Infield

Artist & teacher

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10 Useful Travel Tips Bali

My family and I lived in Bali for three years and now I travel back there three times a year. I hope these tips help you to relax and enjoy visiting one of the most wonderful places in the world.

1.   Cash

Bali is part of Indonesia and the currency is the Indonesian Rupiah. You can get Rupiah from ATM’s using your bank cards but it is a good idea to bring some Rupiah with you if you can.  Bring some US dollar too as traveler’s cheques are difficult to cash - only a few banks are authorized to change them – and ATMs are not everywhere. Most hotels will change US dollars for you.

2.   Arrival and departure

You can get a visa in advance from an Indonesian Embassy but it is cheaper to buy a tourist visa when you arrive in Bali.  A seven day visa costs USD 10 while a 30 day visa costs $25.  You have to pay in cash so bring a bit extra just in case there are any increases in the cost.

When you leave Bali you have to pay an airport tax. You pay at a small booth on your way to immigration and it costs IDR 150,000 of US$ 10.  You must pay in cash so be sure to have enough with you.

3.    Health and immunizations

Mosquitoes can carry malaria and dengue fever in Bali.  Most of Bali is malaria free but if you plan to visit rural areas or other islands, you should consider taking malaria prophylaxis. Dengue fever is nasty with flu like symptoms and causes extreme fatigue. Indonesia is an endemic region for dengue fever and it can be found in almost every region.  Dengue has a higher incidence during the rainy season - October to April – because the wet conditions are good for the vector, the mosquito, to breed.  Most people get the relatively harmless type but there is a small risk of getting the more dangerous hemorrhage causing type.

There is no vaccine against malaria or dengue fever so the best way to avoid getting them is to smother yourself in repellant, wear long sleeves and trousers in the evenings and sleep under a net.

Inoculations that you should get advice from your doctor about before you travel include:

  • Hepatitis A — You should get this before you depart
  • Hepatitis B — You need to start this vaccination at least 6 months before you travel so that the full vaccine series can be completed
  • Typhoid — if you choose oral vaccination, the regimen should be completed week’s week before traveling. If you choose an injection, one dose should be given at least two weeks before the expected exposure
  • Measles — Advisable if you are not immune
  • Polio — Advisable if you have not had a booster since childhood
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria — you need at least three doses and then a booster every ten years.
  • Rabies — you can get a ‘pre-exposure’ injection which gives you more time. Should you be unfortunate enough to be bitten, you must still seek medical attention immediately as you must get ‘post-exposure’ injections
  • Japanese Encephalitis — the risk to short-term holidaymakers is very low.  If you plan to be out in rural areas, perhaps bicycling or camping, you might be at risk. Full vaccination takes two to four weeks to complete

4.   Medication

If you have to bring medication bring the original prescription or a letter (on headed paper) from your doctor with you as the Indonesian customs officials might ask you to produce these when you arrive in the country.

There are two international standard hospitals in Bali, both with pharmacies.  If you are concerned about medication it is possible to check with them before you leave.

BIMC Hospital

SOS International Clinic

5.   Taxis

The airport has a dedicated taxi booking office, located on your right as you come out of the building.  It is best to use this office because they have set tariffs, speak some English and give you a receipt.

If you can, try to use Blue Bird taxis. They all have government checked meters and won’t cheat you. If you have to use a non Blue Bird taxi, be ready to haggle down the price.  It is not unusual for the starting price to be three times as much as the driver will accept.

6.   Haggling

It is normal to haggle when you are shopping in Bali, apart from the few supermarkets which have price tags on everything. You discuss and debate, smile and sigh until both seller and buyer agree on the price. It is a good rule of thumb to assume the first price will be two thirds higher than the price the shopkeeper will accept.  Haggling is fun, but you don’t have to haggle over every cent.

7.   Temples

The Balinese are very mindful of their religion, which has strong roots in every community. You can expect to see village temples at the beginning and end of every village and homes have a small family temple.  There are large area temples dotted throughout Bali. The religion, which is unique to Bali, is a form of Hinduism with hints of previous animalist and ancestor worship beliefs.

If you want to visit a temple you must wear a sarong and have a tie around your waist - the waist tie is to prevent any badness escaping from you while you are there!  Most of the time temples are quiet places but at least once a month they hold noisy and colourful festivals. It is fine to visit temples during festivals but be ready with a small donation and always ask the door men if it is a good time. Most important, women who are menstruating must not enter a temple and any promiscuous behavior causes great distress - even a long kiss is inadvisable!

8.   Food

Balinese food it rice based but the island has long been a tourist destination which has brought many western style restaurants and cafes in its wake. It is possible to get everything from a coffee and a croissant to a French designer luncheon.

If you want to try true Indonesian food consider ‘Bungkas’ - which means wrapped. Wrapped in a palm leaf or sometimes grease proof paper, Bungkas is delicious - a piece of chicken, beef or fish is wrapped up with small vegetables and some hot chillie sauce on a mound of rice.  There are vegetarian versions too.  You can buy Bungkas from a street vendor or a ‘Warong’ small café.

Other not to be missed food is called ‘Padang’, named after the area of Sumatra where it originated. Padang food can be very spicy and has an enormous range of dishes.

Both Bungkas and Padang are normally served cold so be a little careful where you buy them, it is best to ask a local.

9.   Language

The Balinese have their own language, but almost everyone speaks Bahasa Indonesia and at least some English, especially in tourist areas.  Balinese is complicated and has three main forms or levels depending on who is talking to who.  Bahasa Indonesia is much easier with phonetic pronunciations and simple grammar - many people pick up a word or two, especially the greetings which always well received by local people.


Bali has distinct climates at different altitudes; there are volcanoes toward the north of the island and sea level beach areas. Kintamani is high up in the centre and Amed is at sea level.

Kintamani is warm during the day but cooler in the evening so bring something light and warm to put on in the evenings. Occasionally there is warm rain. It doesn’t last but you will be glad of light rain wear - a waterproof coat will do. Amed is warm all the time, you will need swimwear, sun block and sun hat. You will need to adapt your holiday wear if you wish to visit a temple (see Temples below).

Travel with art

Last week I went for a walk over the Eridge Estate with a ten year old student of art,

 he wanted to learn about watercolour and landscape and “how to do it”.    


Chatting and walking I soon realized that when you are ten you don’t have many arty

 tricks to help you make pictures when you are faced by a real landscape and not a photo of it.


I decided to introduce my companion to some basic composition, tone and colour concepts.

He was very polite and tried to engage with my earnest teachings but somehow he just

 wasn’t very inspired. “When will I do a watercolour?” he asked as I banged on about

the golden mean and snowflakes, I had to draw breath and let him paint.



When I got home I wondered about my failed class and how other people deal with travel and art.

I Googleed it and found a blog about sketching and travel by Anthony Galván.

 Anthony illustrates his Blog with images from his sketch book as he gads about the world.

The sketches get more and more complex perhaps more and more self conscious,

the final effect is great though, as we get to know Anthony his sense of humor and the world!

What a great idea to take your sketch book with you and make little sketches of where you

are no concepts or rules just do it right then and there, ah but is it easier with a few skills.

The next blog that caught my eye was Anita Horton’s ‘Art, Teach, Travel”.

Anita has a wonderful light voice as she gently draws you into her posts like

a friend sharing a bit of gossip. Most of the blog is written with links to her art work,

I liked the small collection of pictures she calls ‘Bones’ but found her ‘PleinAir’ (in the open air)

collection a bit flat. I wonder if they were really done in the open air or from photos.

It doesn’t matter it is only a small part of her work and her blog is very inspiring.

But I am still left wondering whether it takes a few basic skills even to make a simple sketch of a landscape.

The Impressionist painters who were tired of contrived studio work and moved out into the landscape

had a few skills up their shirts you can see that from their work.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) View of Rouen 1883, Black chalk on blued Gillot paper


This sketch by Monet is in the Frick Collection I have a small feeling that he did not

struggle with concepts of composition and tone!

The last blog I found was less directly related to making sketches and skills but it did

catch my eye because it does inspire and it does see art in travel or travel in art?

It is called the worldartworldtravel blog and has posts from many different people about

their travel adventures and the art that they experienced. Perhaps that is it, the traveler

can find art in the landscape that h/she is traveling in whether the result is a sketch

a photo or a piece of writing; it is travel that inspires us.  

     Anthony Galván illustrates his Blog with images from his sketch book as he gads about the world.  

      Energetic bright and fun Blog by   Anita Horton is a teacher, traveler and artist.       

 Great idea a blog linking Art with travel there are Blogs’ by many different  people talking about  Art in Japan, Istanbul and much more.

Blog here.

Brave to be learning

Brave to be learning

Two art trips since the last blog and I have been inspired to write again. Inspired by the wonder of watching people grow.


I have felt like a  gardener  inheriting plants that have been in the same place for many years,  they still bloom but the colours are less vibrant, the flowers smaller.  As a good gardener, I move the plant, change its aspect a little maybe feed it and encourage it to grow in a slightly new direction.

The next time it flowers the blooms are bigger, colours brighter it’s as if the whole plant has been reborn!

What has been happening is a well known phenomenon that of learning and gaining new insights makes us happy really happy. The chemicals in our brain actually change when we learn something new. Gary Marcus is a cognitive psychologist and writes about this phenomenon in his blog ‘learn something new – your brain will thank you’.


The people who have been joining me on the art trips to Bali are brave, I know they are because I write to them while they are thinking about joining us and I hear their worries. Some have never traveled so far or to such an exoticKollwitz drawing destination, some have spent most of their lives working in one discipline and are fearful that the art will be too difficult for them, most of them are facing a fear and putting worries to one side, I admire them all for that - even before I have met them in person.

  When they arrive in Bali, tired and apprehensive learning seems a way off destination but as the days pass they start to relax and learn. Weather it is learning about Bali, the food, culture and the people or whether it is learning how to draw using a brush, batik a line of wax using a chanting or how to use the camera they bought last year and have never had the time to understand. The learning happens and the guests start to grow!


This begs the question, ‘if learning is good for us and to get into a learning situation we might have to be brave, how do we become brave?’  The Oxford dictionary defines Brave as ‘late 15th century: from French, from Italian bravo 'bold' or Spanish bravo 'courageous, untamed, savage', based on Latin barbarous’, so what makes us courageous? Untamed? Savage? Or more simply when do we steal ourselves and break out of our comfort zone?


 Perhaps it is important that we decide that being brave is a scales of justicevirtue, something that elevates us as people, rather than savage or untamed. If we decide that by being brave we are being virtuous it is probably more likely that we will indeed be brave and take that step into our unknown.

 In his article ‘Which Beliefs Contribute to Virtuous Behavior? ‘Christian Miller discusses virtuous behavior and what might cause people to behave in a virtuous way. He talks about what we believe and how those beliefs influence our ability to behave in a virtuous way; do we believe that we should be virtuous because our much loved granny always did? Or perhaps we think an all seeing knowing power will be pleased by our behavior?

 It is not clear what it is that motivates us to behave in a virtuous way however we do know that in some circumstances we do behave bravely.

I think I see bravery as a virtue and I have put my money where my mouth is by organizing art holidays to Bali that in some way big or small require people’s bravery. I hope that my hunch is right and I hope that if you agree with me you will activate your braveness right now.

Sandy Infield


“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
Stephen King, On Writing

“To believe yourself brave is to be brave; it is the one only essential thing.”
Mark Twain, Joan of Arc


‘Learn something new – your brain will thank you’ Written by Gary Marcus MD

Gary Marcus is a cognitive psychologist is a research psychologist whose work focuses on language, biology, and the mind. Dr. Marcus is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at New York University

Which Beliefs Contribute to Virtuous Behavior?’ Written by Christian Miller

(Associate Professor of Philosophy and Zachary T. Smith Faculty Fellow at Wake Forest University)

g here.

Using Soy Wax to save Bees!

Using Soy Wax to make Batik

September 28, 2012


This summer has been fun, I have learned many random facts, for example field mice hate chewing gum but really like digestive bisects, slugs move faster on expensive watercolour paper than they do on cheap cartridge, wasps are deeply attracted to red rather than green and I miss the gentle buzz of honey bees.

There are some sounds that remind you of home, for me it is the roar of DC10’s as they descend through the clouds on a warm August evening, the chorus of a hundred mowers cutting the neighborhood lawns and the buzz of bees.  What has happened to the bees?

Honey bee

After a bit of research I have found that many people have noticed the decrease in bees in fact it is a much worried about trend.  Some report bee populations falling by as much as %15 over the past two years.
 Reasons for this dramatic decrease in the bee population vary from the increased use of pesticides, wacky weather, nasty foreign bees, baby bee eating parasites and even depressed factory farmed bees. I am worried that I might be contributing to the disaster by using bees wax to make batik. og here.


I have decided to try soy wax, a wax made from soy beans.

I am in debt to

Dorothy Bowen

Dorothy has been working with soy wax as an alternative resist on silk since 2002. Advantages

are that the fumes are not toxic, melting point is lower, and the wax can be washed

out with warm water and synthrapol.

Taken from her paper given at the Kula Lumpur International Batik Convention in 2011

 I wonder if any of you have tried 'Soya Wax' I would be delighted to hear your experiences.

Watch this space for my results

Sandy Infield

Sandy Infield just before Sangkring Exhibition



Three years since my last post…..May 2011


Tomorrow night I expose myself to public gaze and criticism, it is the opening of my exhibition ‘Patterns of Belonging’ at Sangkring Art Space in Jogjakarta; I am nervous.

 I have been working for the past three years to understand the theory and technique of Batik.  Batik and the possibility of luminous colour and light. I started very simply with a candle and stove making small works. As time passed I have learned to sweep Batik across the wide landscapes that are here in Indonesia.

It has been a challenge, the materials are difficult to handle, hot wax and poisonous chemicals. Finding out how to mix the wax and how best to dye has been a slow process of deduction. I am in debt to the people who quietly worked as I watched. One man Arwin Hidayat who simply took me to his back yard and with cigarette in hand mixed toxic chemicals and revealed the wonder of Naptol.


Bali has been a mixed experience, Balinese people are smiling and devout, we joke about their ceremonies ‘Upa Cara’ because there is always a new one that has to be attended. It is normal to see parades of sarong clad devotees making their way to the sea, the temple, the wedding, the funeral, the tooth filing, the birth the list of obligations is long.  People have no compunction they stop work, traffic and business, this is their land and their land must be continually blessed with ritual and that is that.


We have grown used to calmly waiting for offices to open again, the simplest task put off for another day.  How to find out when there is to be a ceremony is another mystery, sometimes thousands of people appear and yet there is nothing printed in the press, no posters on the trees it is all communicated in Chinese whispers and yet everyone knows, apart from us that is.


 Bali a land with few rules but yet guided by shadows and spirits!