ErinHill Fiji Sketch Holiday. Sept 2015. The first part.

Daku Resort Savusavu, Fiji. ErinHill Travel Sketching Holiday.

Saturday September 5th.

A group of 10 excited people had gathered by Saturday afternoon, summed each other up and decided we were a pretty fun bunch. We were all sorts alf ages and all sorts of professions but were were all connected straight away by our keenness to learn to tricks to Travel Sketching.

Our long looked forward to Fiji Sketch Holiday was about to begin. New and regular sketchers would all sketch together and share our experiences and discoveries all week.

By the week’s end you’d have a sketchbook full of your sketches each a reminder of an unforgettable moment.

Nothing to do but immerse ourselves in sketching and thoroughly enjoy our Fiji experience and adventure.

And laugh. As someone commented later – I hadn’t warned them how much laughing we would do!

Drinks and then the Welcome Kava ceremony in the warm evening air was a great way to begin. Everyone was offered a bowl of Fijian kava and most found it almost palatable. An acquired taste indeed.

Dinner was the traditional Lovo, cooked in hot rocks in a pit. George kindly led us along the pathway to where the boys had been preparing the pit since early afternoon and we would see the food going in, and several hours later, the cooked offerings come out. Pork, chicken, fish and several vegetables all wrapped in woven palm leaves.  Yummmmm. He said the women love it when there’s a lovo because they don’t have to do anything.

George said a few welcome words and I followed with a little about what we’d do during the week.

There’d be a blackboard up each day with the agenda written up.

The lovo was served buffet style and we were certainly a hungry group. Over food and wine we got to know each other and have the first of much laughter and funny stories. A good week ahead and soon off to bed after a long day.


Sunday September 6

The birds are chirruping incredibly loudly at an early hour. By the time I’m really awake they’ve stopped.

Looks like rain but so lovely and warm it won’t matter.

We need hibiscus flowers for our new sketchers and before the staff have gathered the best ones to do the rooms and tables, I managed some red and apricot ones.

We always make this our first ‘how to see’ sketch. Simple shapes and easy to recognize no matter how wonky those first nervous lines. We like wonky I reassure people. Adds character to your impression.

Regulars can join in or sketch the sketchers. Some great results.

The boys bring over our tea and coffee at the right moment. Everyone needs a little break from the intense concentrating one does. Very welcome.

We sketch till lunch then it’s time for snorkeling on the reef or carry on with your sketch journal.

Later in the afternoon we gather at the foot of a banana Palm. Trees in their various shaped are good to get practice on.

Just as we started down came the rain. We managed to hotfoot back to our studio by the pool and shake ourselves off. Then it stopped. True travel sketching. You never know what you’ll get.

Several returned to get the proportion right and happily added watercolour pencil in the way we apply it.

Drinks at 6ish were the order of the day and a delicious chicken dinner was presented following. We’re all getting on famously now.

Sunday Fiji. Banana in flower

Sunday Fiji. First sketches


Monday September 7

It looked so beautiful looking out across the bay in the early morning.

I’ve seen several birds I don’t know, but I do know the red and green parrot finch. So tiny. I’m wondering what the big holes are in the ground everywhere and I’m told later that crabs live in them. Crickey how big are they and when do come out! I see a ferret thing, like a long squirrel. Frogs too, I’ve seen them.

Better get to breakfast before we start class.

Today would be our first go at watercolours. Not Watercolour painting as such but how to apply simple colour to your sketch.

We started with quick sketches of people. Each other. No detail. Just look for the action and line a body makes.

These then became great for applying loose colour.

We tried some round shapes and dropped one colour over another. Its marvellous to see the colours blend when you don’t ‘painty paint’

Time to head to the Savusavu Markets. After our Morning tea of course. Raining but we were undercover.

Downtown has one main curving street. It’s alive with people of all sorts wearing bright colours. wandering, getting buses, gazing into shops always at a leisurely pace.

There’s a deep harbour alongside the town where overseas yachts moor up and spend some time in town.

We like the cafe overlooking this but no time today. We’ve got work to do.

Inside the market our sketchers spread out, fascinated with the produce and talking to the stall owners. Everybody loves seeing the sketches as they happen and get very excited when you say it’s them.

This is true Fijian living. Mixing with the locals. Purchasing a few items. Feeling welcome. Loving the noise buzz and aromas around us.

Later in the afternoon there’s a chance to apply colour if you like. It’s quite leisurely and those who want sketch happily away till everyone tidies up for drinks and dinner.

Monday Fiji. People sketching

Monday Fiji. Market sketches

Monday Fiji. Sketching at the markets


Tuesday September 8

A nice warm morning. We chat at breakfast about how well we sleep here. Not a care in the world. Just time for ourselves. Time to get that creative side really polished up.

We sometimes need to get our morning technique class hurried a little if we’re going out.

No matter. We sketch in the time we have. Up we go to Jane and Rosalind’s balcony with the magnificent view to the islands in the distance.

A great sketch as a vista. I do a very quick demo to show how composition works and with the watercolour, that it will be stronger and more definite in the foreground and softening as it goes away.

That was a big help to everyone to see and there is now just 15 minutes before we take off. Yes I do mean sketch and apply colour in 15 mins. And they did!  No time to procrastinate- just get going. Worked so well and every sketch nailed it.

Into the cabs and off to see the J Hunter Pearls of Fiji show us the process of oyster to pearl.

The man from Japan is working to insert seeds into the new oysters. It’s a delicate process and can only be done by the people from Mikimoto.

The oysters can only be out of water for a short time or they stress.

We take a boat out to the oyster beds in clear deep water and away from pollution and predators. There’s a boat out there where chaps are cleaning the oysters of barnacles etc and placing them back again. They’ll be ready to give up their pearls in a year and can produce 3 or 4 in their lifetime.

Sooze can’t resist diving into the blue water to take a closer look at the oysters in their woven compartments. Milton goes in too. It’s beautiful out here looking back at the island.

We enjoy the ride back to the wharf and get home in time for lunch of fresh salads and the tastiest chicken burgers.

The afternoon is for swimming and doing what you like. Claire the massage lady has done her magic on several of us.

Our afternoon session is for applying colour to our oyster sketches. I’m delighted to see people having a go at getting something into their sketchbooks no matter where we are.

The sketches were a delight. The boys on the oyster boat would have felt proud.

Another busy day and while drinks were on we could see flashing lights where we dine. Bollywood dinner someone said. Indian curries an all the trimmings were indeed served up under the coloured lights and we loved the glittery fabric wrapped round the columns. Oh what a night.

Tuesday Fiji. Vista over Savusavu Bay Tuesday Fiji Pearl Farm sketches_________________________________________________________________________

Part 2 will follow in a day or so.

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