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Painting Retreat with Jenni Doherty in Bali

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Jenni Doherty, one of Western Australia's most sought-after artists recently taught a 6-day Art and Yoga Retreat with Anna Kwiecinska at Villa Nilaya in beautiful East Bali.

Here's how it happened:

Try to picture four ladies walking through the door fresh from a detox retreat in the mountains - brimming with health and energy ? Um, not really … exhausted, funny tummies and a bit listless, the rigours of Paradise barely concealed.

So, together with two returning retreatants, we were off to a leisurely start on Day1 with a group painting project which brought us into the garden.

Collecting shapes, and thinking about design from the first moment as we worked with a limited palette of indigo, raw sienna and beige.

Our first yoga session is another important moment in bringing a group into focus. Angelina has joined us this year for all 3 retreats (and those who have experienced her yoga will be glad to know she's returning next year), and brings a calming quality to our twice-daily time 'on the mat' (30 minutes warm up and a short shavasana - deep rest - at 9 am to set us up for the day, and then a full 90-minute practice at 5 pm, leading us into dinner and an early, restful night.

Depending on our energy at the end of each day, this practice can be more or less dynamic, and you wont be surprised to learn that many of our afternoon sessions consisted of what's called ' restorative postures' .. that is blankets, blocks and bolsters supporting our limbs in 5-10 minute poses, where gravity does the rest, and one just sinks into deep rest. The message here is - whatever suits the day is what happens - there's no pre-determined yoga program or driven teacher to push you beyond limits. if deep rest is what's called for, then deep rest is what we do.

Slowly but surely, everyone returned to full energy by the middle of the week. Jenni lead us on a focussed journey to create a many-layered 80 x 80 cm canvas, where each layer involved design and problem-solving. As a learning process it's been invaluable for me to see the difference that a session spent just on creating a palette from 3 chosen colours and two neutrals has on the finished painting. For all of us a revelation to realise that an endless array of colours can be made and that there's often more than one way to create the same tone - valuable lessons.

Jenni's own paintings, incredibly beautiful works of art that often stand taller than the artist herself, often involve more than 20 layers of paint, often beginning with a mixed media base, as we did using moulding paste to create decorative textures into which we later worked with colour.

Every artist has a way of attacking the glaring white void of a fresh canvas, and we've tried many here over the years.

Artists who've come to teach in bali on Creative Living Retreats include Nadine Bastow, Becky Blair and Cate Edwards.

Jenni's technique was a new weapon in the artist arsenal and we look forward to expanding on this theme next year when Jenni presents a mixed media on canvas retreat and a 2-day mixed media on paper works.

Sparkling sunshine beckoned us on a boating trip with a glorious morning basking on a white sandy beach with gentle surf for gorgeous swimming. Doesn't boating always give one an appetite?

Ketut's pandanus palm pancakes filled with gingered palm syrup and freshly grated coconut and hot Bali coffee to the rescue.

Time for kite-flying and clothes shopping in tiny beach side boutiques before the 30 minute boat trip home to lunch and an afternoon of painting.

Our week included a hands-on cooking lesson with executive chef Pak Dewa Ardika, and a night on the town for some live jazz and divine cuisine to celebrate an entrancing exhibition night.

Energised, rested and revived, the art said it all - glowing canvases full of vibrant colour, dynamic design and tantalising texture, and 6 amazing women who'd arrived exhausted, worked hard and departed for home in all their creative glory.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the story. More East Bali advetures

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