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Painting with Cate Edwards in Bali

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

8 years on and still going strong - my dream to create a nurturing space by the sea, where everything one needs is taken care of whilst you drift from one lovely thing to another has been a reality since 2012, when I held my first art and yoga retreat here at Villa Nilaya in beautiful East Bali.

The artist in residence was Cate Edwards, and her presence as a teacher of extraordinary ingenuity has become synonymous with Creative Living Retreats.

Cate embodies the very precept of the retreats - that life is a creative journey and Taking Time to Make Space (the name of her retreats), is as important as anything else we consider essential in life. Art becomes meditation, and every year the results are astounding!

Many participants come as 'complete beginners' and leave , not only with two completed paintings, but the certain knowledge that they can paint - and that it's fun!

This year we welcomed participants from Western Australia and the UK to Mendira Village for a 6-night retreat.

The retreat which includes not only their choice of seaside accommodation, but deliciously healthy Balinese 'heritage' meals prepared by our dedicated staff, a hands-on cooking lesson with our executive Chef Pak Dewa Ardika, and some time out to tour the less touristed parts of this beautiful island, as well as a night out on the town and some surprises along the way.

Daily yoga with Angelina is always something to look forward to even if one is a little weary after a day's painting. In this case, Angelina, who joined us for the first time this year, creates a nurturing ambience of deeply restorative postures to soothe body and much loved by the retreatants in all three retreats this year, she'll be back for our retreat program 2022.

Each participant chose two canvas sizes (50 x 50 cm , or 50x 60 cm), and each day, together with plenty of drawing, the design process evolved.

These retreats are designed to help you learn to solve design problems, so sometimes the going gets a little tough! There's often a day when you're not really happy with your results - but that's where the learning happens, and the ultimate satisfaction in having created a problem and then solved it makes the work not only a joy, but an important record of the journey.

Many of our retreatants return annually or bi-annually, and each year Cate's program sets a new direction - this year she worked with shape and colour blocks as the starting point.

Our week is enlivened by daily yoga - 30 minutes in the morning, after arriving at Villa Nilaya for 9 am, and then, around 5pm, for a full 90-minute practice where Angelina takes us through a dynamic sequence before some beautifully restorative postures into which our bodies fall with ease, and then, a lovely shavasana … that perfect end to a yoga session when you get to just lie on the mat and deeply relax.

As evening falls, and the candles are lit, we rise and walk down the stairs to find dinner ready - a buffet of East Balinese flavours with lots of seafood and coconut and vegetables.

Every alternate night is a free evening to try the local warungs (restaurants in our village), and then before one knows it … its' the last day!

I love hanging the paintings to create an exhibition and this collection was especially interesting, as so many paintings wanted to 'talk' to one another.

We celebrated with a gala dinner at the villa, entertained by dancers and our very own Kadek who couldn't resist the opportunity to dance with a room full of ladies!

Thank you for reading!

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