I just thought I would tell you all about the wonderful Art Retreat I have recently returned from. Tracy Verdugo’s Sacred Marks Bali Art Retreat!

Some of you may be aware that I turned 60 earlier this year. Yes, a milestone birthday and yes I did have a bit of a wobbly over it. So much so, that when my lovely husband, Jack asked how I would like to celebrate my birthday, I said I didn’t really want to do anything much, except maybe a Family dinner with my kids? Which we did, but I did think to myself I really should be doing something special and unique before the year ended. That was late March.

So when I saw a post from Tracy in June to say she had a cancellation in the September Retreat. I knew that was the ideal way to celebrate my birthday milestone!! Jack said, “Go for it”! I had never been to Bali before and I had felt it calling to me for the last couple of years. The Universe letting me know that the timing was perfect. So I didn’t hesitate. 

The countdown began… I didn’t have a current Passport, so off I went to organise that. Boy! They aren’t cheap, I had better make sure I do lots more travelling… Good Excuse anyhow!

Come September, I was on the plane. A little nervous travelling internationally on my own, but still really excited. My Brother and his wife travel to Bali all the time, and they had given me heaps of tips and advice, so I wasn’t completely clueless. Lots of queues and customs. I even bumped into one of my students on the plane! Ha! Ha! Small world isn’t it? The six-hour flight went by quite quickly. 

More queues and bang, I was leaving Denpasar Airport and stepping out into the heat and humidity. Drivers holding up signs with an ocean of names. I really never thought I would see mine, but there it finally was.. right at the end of the line. It was a relief to see it. So my taxi driver loaded me and my luggage into his minibus and off we went. 

Those of you who have been lucky enough to have already been to Bali will be familiar with the traffic. It seems to consist of Mini Buses, taxis and scooters, on mass. I swear at the first roundabout, there would have been 100 scooters. All weaving in and out of the traffic. They seem to have a collective consciousness. A dance between the cars and the scooters although they are all in perfect sync with each other. It was both mesmerising and horrifying at the same time. I closed my eyes several times because I thought a scooter was about to be squashed. So much to see and take in, it is funny to say, I sort of had a little anxiety attack.

I was happy to find that where our retreat was, in Sanur, it is lovely and quiet in comparison to Denpasar.  I was dropped off at the Villas and shown to my room. The Sanur Beach Villas are really a boutique accommodation with only enough room for Tracy and her Students. Which meant we had the place to ourselves which was fabulous! 

Bird baths full of flowers grace the Garden beds
The entrance to Sanur Beach Villas
The view from our Villa

The Sacred Marks Retreat was held over 8 days. We had 12 girls in the September group. Girls from the UK, US, Canada and Australia. It was so lovely meeting all these gorgeous women from all around the world. By the end of the retreat we were all well and truly bonded! 

Our Day One was spent travelling up to Ubud, which is up in the hills amongst the rice fields. It is known as Bali’s spiritual centre. The scenery on the trip was just beautiful. Once we arrived we discovered this beautiful Lotus pond. My inspirationfor my first painting.

We shopped until we dropped!!

Day Two was our first day of painting. How wonderful was painting by the pool!

Yes that is me in the blue! 
This was my my painting by the end of the day. Many layers still to go. I did enjoy
painting with inks for the first time. 
Inspirational group session

Day Three morning was Cooking School. The Sanur Beach Villas is also home of the Bamboo Shoots Cooking School. Irma and her team, guide their students through preparing and cooking several dishes. Then of course you get to eat them. I am not a great lover of cooking and I was keen to do more painting, so I opted not to join in. Big mistake I think, but I did get to eat some of the lovely food they made.

Day Four was another day of painting.

Day Five was our trip to the Elephant Sanctuary up near Ubud. This was an absolute highlight! You all know how much I love Elephants and to see them and touch them was just wonderful. 

That trunk weighed a ton. 

There was a ceremonial day on the Wednesday and many homes had these gorgeous decorative banners displayed in honour of the celebration between good and evil. On our trip up to the Sanctuary we stopped to take photos. 

A photo with Tracy 

In the end some of us opted to paint on our Villa verandas. 
Tempat Suci unfinished
Painting one nearly finished!

Day Seven was our final day of painting. Of course I did have to paint an Elephant.

Still lots more to do

Our Final Group Dinner!! Boy the time went so fast!!

And here we are on the last morning with our paintings!! Aren’t they all wonderful? Thank you so much Tracy for being so inspirational.
I must say I had an absolutely fabulous time. I really enjoyed exploring inks and Tracy’sother layering techniques. Being able to treat myself to another Teacher’s workshop whom I have admired for years, as well as incorporate a trip to Bali, has well and truly made my 60th Year memorable!!
If anyone is “thinking” about doing Tracy’s Sacred Marks Bali Retreat in 2017, I highly recommend it!! 

“Tempat Suci” (Sacred Place)

“Gajah dan Bayi” ( Elephant and Baby)
Special thanks to some of the other girls and Tracy for sharing some of their images.

Guess what? I have already booked flights back to Bali in August next year! Jack is coming this time!!

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