03Nov2010

14 Great Arts Courses in Ubud, Bali

Yves Picq's image of Rice terraces in Bali

Set amid the rice fields, temples and river gorges of rural Bali, art comes naturally in Ubud. And it’s one of the easiest destinations in the world to get in touch with your artistic side, thanks to a myriad day, half-day or longer arts courses just waiting for the taking.

Before you begin the perennial quest for cheap hotels in Bali, it’s worth planning some time to be creative. Here’s just some of the arts you can learn in Ubud:

1: Silversmithing
The area around Ubud has been a centre for silvercraft since time immemorial. Sketch out your own design. Then cut, beat, shape, solder and polish silver into the style of your choice. Book classes at Pondok Pekak learning centre (+62 (0)361 976 194), Studio Perak, or with Ayu (+62 (0)3619245833) at WS Art Studio.

2: Wood Carving
In traditional Balinese culture, wood carvings decorate not only temples and palaces but private homes. ARMA Museum and Puri Lukisan Museum offer day classes; Pondok Pekak learning centre (+62 (0)361 976 194) has half-day introductory courses.

3: Painting
Learn classical Balinese court painting, traditional Balinese art or contemporary Balinese art styles at ARMA Museum and Puri Lukisan Museum. Or try Pranoto’s Gallery to develop your own style in oils.


4: Fruit Carving
If you’ve ever wondered how to create those elaborate fruit sculptures you see in Asian restaurants, or just want a bit of practice before turning your attentions to wood or stone, spend half a day at Pondok Pekak learning centre (+62 (0)361 976 194), creating a masterwork out of a watermelon.

5: Paper Making
Work with mulberry pulp, leaves, dyes and silk to create your own handmade papers at Lingsir Paperie (+62 (0)361 977 984).

6: Basket Weaving
Elaborate baskets, both for offerings and for mundane life, are a big part of life in Bali. Learn how to make them from palm leaf, bamboo and more at ARMA Museum and Puri Lukisan Museum.


7: Offering Making
Offerings crafted from bamboo, palm leaves, fruit, flowers, rice, incense and coloured dough are an essential part of Balinese Hinduism, decorating private homes and shops alike, and reaching their fulfilment in the gigantic offerings prepared for major ceremonies. Learn how to shape these beautiful, ephemeral items at ARMA Museum and Puri Lukisan Museum.

8: Batik
Batik textiles originate in Java, but there are plenty of artists working with batik in and around Ubud. Use hot wax to print designs and paint them in natural dyes, creating your very own piece with artist Nyoman Suradnya at Nirvana Batik or at textile specialists Threads of Life.

9: Dance
For the un-selfconscious, a host of venues offer training in classical Balinese dance, among them ARMA and Puri Lukisan. Or learn to tango with the Bali Tango Club — beginners classes are free on Mondays.


10: Ceramics
If wandering through the rice-fields won’t get you grubby enough, try working with clay at Sari Api Studio, 3km north of Ubud. Workshops cover everything from the basics of working with clay to advanced techniques, using wheel or hand.

11: Balinese Music
From bamboo flute to gamelans and gongs, Balinese instruments are complicated to master but simple enough to be rewarding for the beginner. ARMA, Pondok Pekak (+62 (0)361 976194) and Puri Lukisan offer short introductory courses in a range of instruments, or try Nyoman Warsa at Pondok Bamboo music shop (+62 (0)361 974 807).

12: Beadwork
If you’ve ever admired elaborate belts, bracelets and courtly decorations, or there’s a ten-year-old girl inside you itching to get out, beadwork is a rewarding way to spend the day. Puri Lukisan offers courses for 3 hours or 6 hours.


13: Kites, Puppets and Masks
Puri Lukisan offers courses in traditional Balinese crafts. Create a kite butterfly to take home, craft a traditional shadow puppet out of leather, or paint your own mask based on those used in traditional Balinese dance.

14: Life Drawing
Pranoto Gallery holds regular life-drawing classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10am: bring your own materials.

And More…
A myriad venues across Ubud offer cooking classes, in styles from Balinese to Vietnamese. Yoga specialists such as Yoga Barn offer the full spectrum of yoga classes, up to teacher training level. Ketut Arsana’s Bodyworks offers training in Balinese massage, while Thai massage and reflexology are also available.

Not found a place to stay yet? Agoda has great late deals on Ubud hotels, guesthouses and villas. Click here.

Thanks to Yves Picq for the lead image.

22 Comments

  1. One of the many reasons to love Ubud! We spent a lot of time at the library behind the football field taking painting classes and music lessons. I’m fairly confident we aged the music teacher 15 years though with the kids energetic bashing. I have a wonderful video that shows the exact moment they stopped listening and went wild, with the music teacher eventually giving up and walking off stage.

    • MummyT says:

      Oh god. That reminds me of the time that Z and his friends got barred from choir! “What happened?” “Well. She told us to stop laughing. So L pretended to be scared and fell into I, then F and I landed up on top of them.” I love the library too…

  2. Quentin Aublin says:

    Hi,

    I’m very interested in a wood carving course. Is it possible to get in contact with an instructor ?

    Thank you.

    Regards,

    Quentin
    Paris, France
    +33-6 11 73 42 61

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Quentin,

      Thanks for your comment. Pondok Pekak offers introductory level carving courses — half-days — and you can contact them by phone (not sure how good they are on email) at +62 (0)361 976 194. Be aware of the time change between Indonesia and France when you call them, as I believe they’re only open in their day time.

      You could also try the ARMA and Puri Lukisan museums, which both offer these courses: mpl-ubud.com and armabali.com have their contact details.

      If you’re looking for longer courses, I think your best bet would be to try out these and test instructors, or go to the village of Mas and find wood carvers, or look on the noticeboards outside Pizza Bagus, Bali Buddha and in Pondok Pekak itself for people who are offering to share skills.

      Good luck,

      Theodora

  3. Jed says:

    Are the komodo dragons in Ubud? i really like to see and experience the thrill… they are very magical creatures

    • Theodora says:

      No. They’re only found on the islands of Komodo and Rinca in Nusa Tenggara Timur: you do get giant monitors in other parts of Indonesia, but nothing on the scale of the dragons.

  4. Jan says:

    Thanks for posting this info, love it, we are coming to live in ubud for three months and you have just confirmed there is a lot of artistic pursuits for me cheers
    Jan

  5. shaz says:

    wondering if you can help. read a book years ago called clearing sacret space. a English woman who lives in bali and teaches this technec. I would love to contact her and join a course.
    Cheers Shaz Australia

  6. Hello,

    My Name Ayu, the admin of Bali Sculpture Class @ Ubud – Bali. Just want to share maybe someone interesting in sculpting. Thank you.
    Mobile +62 81 734 7036

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Ayu, Thanks for sharing! That’s definitely a great addition. Would you mind letting people know how much courses cost, approximately? Theodora

  7. carole swarthof says:

    Hello,
    I am looking for sculpturing classes in Ubud. I would like to work in stone and to make abstract sculptures. I plan to stay in Ubud for 5 of 7 days and would like to follow a course for 5 days (October 2014).
    I have quite some experience in sculpturing in stone. Therefore I am looking for a possibility to enlarge my experience in stone carving, to learn from somebody else and to have a nice creative time in Ubud:-).

    I hope that you can give me some advice and give me some usefull adresses/emails so that I can contact them?

    Thank you very mucht!
    Carole Swarthof, the Netherlands

  8. Mandy bushe-jones says:

    Hi there, im trying to find an art class in ubud for my fathers. He’s mostly interested in abstract with oils or water colours. Can you recommend a one day course it would be much appreciated.
    kind regards
    Mandy

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Mandy,

      How would your father feel about learning classical Balinese painting, which is the indigenous tradition in Ubud? At ARMA, he could do a tour of the museum, explaining Balinese painting and the collection, and then have a workshop session doing water colours in the Balinese style.

      Theodora

  9. Shalini says:

    Is there any place that does ‘lost wax casting’ in bali?

    • Theodora says:

      As far as I know, there isn’t – not for courses, anyway. It’s not part of the Balinese sculptural tradition, and requires extensive investment in materials and equipment, so I’d be surprised if you’d find anyone offering courses in it. The Denpasar art university might have the facilities – http://www.isi-dps.ac.id/ – but they’d be for students only.

  10. Mariana says:

    Great article, made me miss the Bali days
    I would highly reccomend Nyoman Deking´s batik classes at the AMA museum or at his house, both of the places are beautiful and the batik is a great travel souvenir
    his website: http://batikbali.myartsonline.com/

  11. Zainab says:

    Dear concerened,

    I would like to know the cost for wood carving, batik, offering making, paper making and dance.
    Please advise me an economical accomodation in Ubud as I am a student in Malaysia.

    Thank you!

  12. […] recommendations: We started our research with the classes mentioned by Theodora of Escape Artistes, and went down the rabbit hole from […]

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  1. […] recommendations: We started our research with the classes mentioned by Theodora of Escape Artistes, and went down the rabbit hole from […]

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