What to do in Bali: Wood Carving and Traditional Painting with Kids

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What to do in Bali: Traditional Painting — Ubud with kidsAs I mentioned in my last post, I am the father of two very different children: one with a natural love of the arts and one with other predilections.

Like all children, my son and my daughter are creative in their own ways, but where my girl has an unabashed fascination with drawing, painting and performance — her own as well as the works of others — my son has shown little interest. That is until recently.

What to do in Bali: Ubud with Kids

If you can’t decide what to do in Bali, head to Ubud for art experience. We were in Bali a few weeks ago, in the city of Ubud, and when it comes to arts and crafts, there is much to do in Ubud with kids. Following a hunch and a few recommendations, we signed the kids up for several classes.

While our son seems disinterested in “art,” he enjoys working with tools, so we looked for opportunities to feed that interest. After some research, we signed kids up for wood carving, painting, ceramics and silversmithing.

What to do in Bali: Traditional Painting

What to do in Bali: Art in Ubud

What to do in Bali: Wood Carving with Kids

We were looking for what to do in Bali. We wanted to go to Ubud for mountain and art. With some research, we found about some art classes in Ubud.

This post will cover the first two, taking both classes through the Pondok Pecak Library in Ubud. There are many places to take painting and wood carving lessons — we saw signs everywhere.

Those lessons may be good as well, but we enjoyed our wood carving class at the library so much that we signed up for painting there the very next day.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First I should mention that in Bali, you are surrounded with multi-talented artisans of some sort: everyone seems to be a wood carver, painter, dancer, sculptor or weaver. Often all of the above.

There is creativity all around you — some is traditional and breathtaking, and some is cheesy tourist crap, but what astounds me is just how many hours of time go into all of it.

The city of Ubud is the cultural center of it all, and spending time in Ubud with kids is a must-do if you’re going to Bali. The Pondok Pecak Library is but one of hundreds of places to find crafts courses, but it is a place that I recommend dropping by. There were often several classes happening simultaneously.

For example, while we carved and painted, someone at the next table might be taking a fruit carving class (which we enjoyed in Chiang Mai), while someone else would be learning traditional Balinese dance on the stage behind us. During our wood carving class, a group of locals came in to practice for a gamelan performance as we worked.

What to do in Bali with kids: Wood Carving

Wood Carving: What to do in Bali

Our wood carving teacher was named Nyoman, and he’d been teaching at the library for 20 years. He had also represented Bali and Indonesia as a cultural ambassador to countries like Japan and Australia. Warm, friendly and patient, Nyoman helped us sparingly, and prevented us from cutting off our fingers.

Sure, there were several times when he had to jump in and help us along with our projects — a certain type of very sharp blade had to be used, say, and we just didn’t have the skills yet to wield it.  So in truth, we didn’t carve 100% of our works. We did most of them though, and the result was a huge sense of accomplishment.

Need a hotel? Check this list of Best Hotels in Ubud, Bali Indonesia at Booking.com!

What to do in Bali with kids: Wood Carving

Bali Traditional Paining: What to do in Bali

The following day, we took the painting course offered by the library. Wayan, our teacher, gave us a choice between modern and traditional painting. Our daughter M and I chose modern, but we soon realized that we should have chosen traditional painting like S did.

Not that our class was dull, mind you: we had a great time splashing and scraping paint liberally across a number of surfaces. We used house paint, acrylic paint, spray paint, a variety of combs, pallets and brushes, and even leaves from a nearby bush.

What to do in Bali: Modern Painting ClassWe quickly realized, however, that while she and I made lots of colorful throw-aways on paper, S was hard at work making one single work on canvas using the basics of a traditional Balinese shape — somewhere between a snail shell and the golden ratio.

Using this design, Wayan walked S through the steps to create more decorative elements — elements that I began to notice elsewhere after the class: in temple design, in carved wood doorways and in other traditional works around town, including jewelry and clothing patterns.

What to do in Bali: Traditional Painting Class

There’s More Things to Do in Ubud, Bali!

Being proud of your art work

Once averse to painting and often incapable of sitting still for more than ten minutes, S concentrated for three full hours to complete his work. See that look on his face below? That’s what pride looks like on him. He carried that painting back to our apartment in Malaysia in his hands the entire way — in the taxi, at the airport, on the plane and so on (wrapped carefully, of course).

After courses like our painting and wood carving lessons, I could see a difference in S. I could tell that he started to look at objects around him more, trying to see how they were made. Like I mentioned in my post about exposing kids to art, once we started talking less about the meaning of art and more about the process of creating it, S began to truly appreciate the entire endeavor. After classes like these, all I want to do is find more.

What to do in Bali: Traditional PaintingHave you taken lessons like this, in Bali or elsewhere? How did your kids respond? If you want to know more about other lessons, check out our post on silversmithing and ceramics.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

Comments

  1. Hi Jason, I’ve been dissecting your Bali pages minutely since two days.. I’m planning a trip in July. I too have two kids, 9 and 7 yrs. My 9 year old is totally sporty (soccer is his game) and my daughter who’s 7 loves anything arty.. So u can see why I love the things you’re doing with your kids!! I needed some advise. I want to do the following in Bali:
    ceramics, painting, silversmithing, wood carving, waterfalls, treks, cycling, water park, high ropes, snorkelling, surf lessons and a lot of chilling/ swimming. Do you think 12-15 days is sufficient? Any other activity I have missed out on? Also, is there a single contact point I can use for my various needs like bike rental, car rental, bookings etc.. or should I just go there and figure it out?

    I also wanted to suggest to you to take the kids to Auroville in Pondicherry, India.. You guys will lose yourselves there! I think it will be totally up your alley..

    • Hello Aiman! Yes, it certainly sounds like our kids have some similarities! Re: you plan for Bali, they’re certainly ambitious and achievable, but that’s a fairly busy schedule for 12 days. After all, you’ve listed 12 activities, and I wouldn’t try to do more than one activity per day very often — especially with kids that young. But yes, I think you could pull it off, but you’ll be go-go-going I reckon. Make sure to make time for the chilling/swimming days. With no agenda. I’ve never had one single contact point — just researched, asked around in FB groups or at my accomm once I arrive.

      Auroville! I’ve heard good things!!

  2. Jamie jenkins says:

    Jason, I am so proud of you. You are a very sensitive and perceptive father. And I am very proud of Jamie and Felicia. They are both very talented and intelligent. Thanks for taking the time to know your children and to discover ways to Tao into their God-given talent and potential.

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