ErinHill Fiji Sketch Holiday. Sept ’15. The Other Days.


By now we’re all very settled in our bure/homes. Staying here forever we’ve decided. Gets tidied everyday by one of the ever smiling staff. Food on the table without any effort from us warm and relaxed environment and weather. And a group of people who are the best company. On top of all this- you get to play with sketching and colour all day.
What more can you ask for.
We love the start of the day and our breakfast which is already set up.
Most importantly the coffee is on. That’s a good start. Sit down and think about what you’ll have. Lots of choices of cereal, with fresh papaya and watermelon and bananas. We know where they came from of course. Right off the palms justthere we’ve been sketching.
Eggs too if you’d like those on your toast. Anna will do them any way you like. She does a big bowl of scrambled ones which most people look forward to. Ahhhh such a great start to the day.
We start at 9am at our big table over on the far side of the pool. Nice. We can all sit here and I can be at one end or other to discuss what we’ll do today. I can also walk round easily too, giving people a hand.
Today we’d be going to the beach for most of the day but I wanted to do vignettes to start with.
Sketching little snippets of something is a great way to tell a story. That will tell you everything about it without doing the story of the world.
We’d do the flowers and berries of the native plants growing in the magnificent gardens round the resort.
So by scattering your vignettes across a double page spread you have all you need to know in just a few lines with a dash of colour.
By now you’ve done both wcolour pencil and watercolour paint, so you can choose whichever suits you.
From the demos you’ll see at the end of this whole posting, you’ll know that I use both. It’s a matter of pure convenience. If getting out the paint is too hard then I can easily hold a few pencils in my hand no matter where I am. I actually have no preference. They both give me the look I want.
Morning tea. Yes George and Harry. You read our minds.
One of the boys and his brother in law will miss today as they’re taking much needed medical supplies to a village on the far side of the island. But we’ll fill them in on our beach sketches at dinner.
Off we go in our cabs to a long beach a good 1/2 hour away. We enjoy these drives, looking out the window and seeing villages and people going about their daily lives. We love that theyll look up, smile and wave as we pass. So so friendly.
It’s a little windy when we arrive at Devodora Beach but we find a spot under a big tree which seems pretty sheltered.
This sketch will be about composition- getting your elements balanced and keeping your focus. And depth. Getting your colours stronger in front and softer going away.
Seems like a good moment for a demo.
So by talking as I go the sketchers can see exactly how I plan a sketch. I’m looking for 1/3 and 2/3. That’s a pleasing proportion.
Everyone finds a comfortable place to sit or stand and gets cracking.
Anna and Harry have come along with us and set up a table and made salads and bread for our picnic lunch. We sit on the woven mat spread out on the sand and munch hungrily. Any more anyone? There’s plenty. Oh this is good. Harry gets very creative and ties 2 big clam shells together with vine and hangs it from a tree. Why not.
After lunch the tide is in enough to go for a dip. There’s a lagoon out there deep enough to swim in so several do just that. Others continue happily playing with their work. Time for a little explore. Milton gets creative too and makes a pathway to the sand lined with coconut shells. Then a place to stretch out and let the warm sun sink into ones body. Is there another world out there?
Time to head home and have a rest after a big day.
We’re going out to dinner tonight so we need to think about that.
Surf n Turf was where we were headed. Owned by a a former chef at Costeau resorts and his lovely wife.
I love that it’s down an alleyway you’d think twice about venturing into but which opens out into a spacious restaurant looking out over the water. Well it’s a bit black out there at night but I assure everyone it’s an amazing view.
The 2 boys are back so we can sit back, order and catch up on how they went.
The fish was so tasty and fresh. Just caught this afternoon. Delicious. As was the whole meal.
We wend our way home after another memorable day. See you in the morning.
Sleep well. Unless you are with a certain lady who sets her alarm clock on the wrong time then takes her hearing aids out!

Wednesday Fiji. Vignettes jpg

Wednesday Fiji. Devodora Beach



Now the days were all sunshine. Any hint of showers seemed to have passed.
It’s so lovely and warm anyway so it doesn’t matter.
Today was going to be quite a learning day. Perspective. That very word seems to bring on fear and trembling in most sketchers. When we talk about that it usually means they’ve not had the simple explanation at the very core of it. Eye level. Without that you have nowhere to bring your lines home to.
So once everyone was settled we began our studio session with an easy graph we find works well.
Then just to test it, we go outside and stand in front of a building corner. I often get sketchers to walk up to the corner and stick their finger on the spot right in front of their eyes. Keep an eye on it when you move away. That is your eye level and the beginning of your sketch.
It’s fine to put that line on your page as a guideline. Makes it easier to do the 2 pencil trick, matching the angles and transferring to your book.
Not always easy to get this first time because part of our brain thinks it knows what’s going on. It doesn’t and that can cause odd angles – which when you look at what IS there, not what you THINK is there – your sketch will happen.
Today was a visit to the local village of Naidi. We arrived to the sound of the women singing beautiful welcome song.
They’d made garlands of leaves with small posies attached and there was one each. We had a little tear as we were greeted so movingly.
Seats were arranged for us under a large covered area where the Welcome Kava ceremony would take place.
I needed 4 people to sit with me and accept the welcome. I had our 3 boys and one brave lady.
A single clap means bring on the kava. Yummmm. Well not really.
Each of us are offered 2 rounds then George makes a greeting and I respond with some words of true gratitude.
He offers a gift of kava root and we offer  a bag filled with art materials and some bouncy balls to play with, just for the children.
We are shown around by a very knowledgable chap to hear about the 8 different church denominations here and how everyone shares and respects everyone else in their community And when there’s work to be done, such as building a house, everyone pitches in. Hey. That sounds so simple. So ……oh don’t ask the question. Why isn’t the case everywhere!
We take an hour to to sketch the many views, houses, lovely bright eyed kids and shy women seated around.
A beautiful traditional Fijian lunch was served and we were so impressed with the choice of offerings. Most unknown to us, their ways of serving homegrown ingredients were absolutely delicious.
I asked about any hens in the village for eggs. No they get those from the market – it’s easier! Seems a bit like us really.
When the school children came home after school they quickly put on their bright coloured costumes for the Meke they were about to perform. The traditional dances.
The singing and the dancing were a joy to watch. The children are enthralled and some of those not performing were copying the movements in the background.
When the whole group moved forward in a final farewell singing Isa Lei, not one of us had a dry eye.
We are humbled by their friendship and generosity.
As we were getting ready to depart, all the men women and children came to shake hands with each one of us. Those beautiful little children’s faces peering up at us with such wonder.
We went off on our journey feeling quite uplifted.
Sketches were completed, swims in the pool, a few massages and always pre dinner drinks.
We love our dinners together where we all move around and make sure we have lots of conversation with everyone.
Sleep well everybody. And everybody does.

Thursday Fiji. Naidi Village Thursday Fiji. The village of Naiadi



We try not to think about it. But this is our last full day.
So we don’t think about it and get on with our breakfasts. Enjoying this part of the day is a very happy start.
We spend our studio time at the big table looking over what we’ve sketched this week and finishing off anything needing more.  I like to sit with people who are looking for help and show them how we can ‘fix’ anything they’re worried about. Never any need to start again. There are so many ways to sort out a sketch which may seem to have gone off the rails. It can be simply scumbling – a way of adding hatching to get your eye going where you want it to focus. Perhaps it’s a little more colour used to bring focus. A few little dashes of soft colour in and around the subject can pop it up. There’s always something you can do and sometimes they become your favourites. Funny that.
We are off to the Savusavu Copra Prossessing Factory
The drive here gives us a chance to see more of the town.
We arrive outside a very large building and we can smell the coconut in the air.
Billy greets us at the door and happily takes us on a tour of the whole process. He usually sits at a wooden table outside the front door where he takes in the consignments of coconut shells brought in by the locals.
He has a device which works out the dryness of the load and the sale price is decided according to that. There’s a big price guide taped to the wall with the current pricing.
The kids sometimes come with coconuts they find on the ground. 15c each and are so excited.
The sketching plan here is to follow the factory tour and do vignettes. This is the easiest way to record a story when there’s so much happening.
Having done vignettes the other day everyone was right on the case.
I was so delighted with our sketchers today. It’s quite tricky keeping up with everything you are hearing and sketching fast at the same time. Great work everyone.
Home for a lovely healthy lunch and an afternoon free to do as you please.
One Sketcher got to go snorkeling again. Others put their feet up in the sun, swam in the pool and of course sketched more.
By now I had some great pics of all the work which you will see with each day.
Tonight was our Farewell Kava Ceremony and a chance to thank our hosts and say a few words about your week if you wished. By now we were very familiar with the procedure and if you were keen for more kava, a single clap would have another bowl brought.
Seemed to me some of our group had developed quite a taste for it. Who’d have thunk it.
Dinner was Traditional Fiji meal with servings of their own recipes using fish, pork and chicken and vegetables.  They do a marinated fish and lemon which we always love, among the many other yummy offerings. We all agree that if you eat this way, everything grown locally and nothing processed, you’d never put on weight. Ok so we all need to take Anna the cook home with us!
We have final drinks and hugs and wish this would never end.
Some are leaving early in the morning so we all agree to meet at breakfast and have a group pic.
Sleep well.

Friday Fiji. Savusvu Copra Proccessing Factory Friday Fiji. Daku memories



Breakfast is set up early on this warm blue morning.
Somehow I get there before anyone and take time contemplating the world with my coffee. I always seem to have that red lipstick shape on my mug. I like that. A good pic.
People arrive having mostly packed and the girls leaving place bags at the front entrance.
We take as long as possible to make these moments last.
We somehow manage a group pic or two with most people in them on the front steps. Cameras are shared with whoever is taking pics and hopefully we all look fabulous. Cos we are!
Bye see you sometime, oh did you get my email? Let’s keep in touch.
Lots of hugs and waving as the departing ones head off.
During the day others leave and some stay another night. Make it last.
So until next time, thankyou to everyone for joining me on our 2015 Fiji ErinHill Sketching Holiday. You are now officially Travel Sketchers.



Next ErinHill Sketch Holiday will be in September 2017. Exact dates coming soon, however let me know if you’d like to join us then. No sketching experience needed, but a passion for life and sense of humour vital.

©ErinHill StudioSept’15

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