Belgian-born painter and designer Carine Francois, 56, shared her day with The Bali Times
Here a lot of people try to copy everything they can, and a lot are jealous if a business is going well.
My day starts at 6am, and the first thing I do is swim in my pool. That’s my first pleasure of the day. Afterwards, I stop at a restaurant to check my emails, and then go to the boutiques I own with my husband, Why Not?, to reorganize the presentation of the products, create a new decoration. I don’t take care of the business, but of the visual part, as I have always been more an artist than a businesswoman.
I first came to Bali 30 years ago, with my son, and with a scholarship to study masks in Ubud. After that, I came back seven times, and started designing clothes here to sell in France. One day all the clothes that were in my car were stolen, and as I had no money left, I had to stop. I went to Canada and stayed there for eight years, working as the editor of a travel magazine, and later for Radio Canada.
During that period, I started painting every day, and holding a lot of exhibitions. I had studied arts and design before traveling, but I quickly switched to theatre, which was what I liked best. I often played little girls on stage, and also made the voices of little animals or little boys in cartoons. I worked a few times for cinema, playing small characters with moviemakers such as Chabrol, and as I was always with my son in the studio, he picked it up, and is now working in this area.
When I finally came back to Bali, 17 years ago, my main activity was painting: I liked painting movement, very overweight women, or working with musicians. When I was attending a concert, for example, I would just sit down in front of the stage and paint every move I could catch. But because I needed money, I started working with a girl who was exporting furniture to Canada. My job was to choose the products, most of them antic pieces of furniture, quite like what I do now, actually.
I spend most of my mornings looking for products around Bali, wandering to find original pieces that will make a difference. Offering unusual things is essential to me, because there are a lot of shops around the area, so it’s only possible to survive if we have different products. But even then, my husband and I have to be really careful, because here a lot of people try to copy everything they can, and a lot are jealous if a business is going well.
While living in Bali, I became friendly with people working for the French school. It was during the (East) Timor war, and we wanted to do something to help, so I taught children how to paint. We sold the paintings, and sent the money to a Timor orphanage.
It was only after that experience that I opened my art school called Krobok’art. We were teaching foreign languages, painting, music, do-it-yourself, and we were offering the possibility for Jakarta shows to come to Bali. But it was probably too early for the island; it didn’t work, and we only lasted three years.
Fortunately, I met my second husband, and we started working together. He opened Why Not?, a shop full of unusual items, bags and jewelry, and I opened Karin’Art Center, a painting school. I had to close it one month ago, though, and am now managing the two shops. Thanks to that, I can often travel to buy products, most of them original jewelry.
As my art school is now closed, I only have one course, which I give as a volunteer: I work with a disabled child, teaching him how to paint. It’s a kind of art therapy. That keeps me busy during the afternoon, and I spend the rest of the day at the shops, moving the products, displaying them properly.
I go back home around 7pm, and most of the time enjoy a glass of vodka to recover from my day. Then I have dinner with friends or my husband, and I often spend the evening painting.
Now I paint mostly for myself. I used to have exhibitions at the Sofitel hotel, or at Salim Gallery on Jl. Seminyak, but selling is not my first goal. Painting is my pleasure, not a business. My evenings are now really calm, I spend most of them with my brushes or playing scrabble with friends.