Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting to Know Orly...

I am SO very honored to have Orly Avineri joining us in February for An Artful Journey Winter Retreat.  I was fortunate to meet Orly at Journalfest last year, and I wanted you to meet her as well! She was gracious enough to answer a few questions that reveal who she is as an artist and as a person.  You would be giving yourself a great gift to spend time with her this winter.  (Honestly, I would pay to have her read the phone book, she's got such a presence about her.)  You just can't help but smile when you're around her, and come away knowing that everything will be fine, better than fine.

I know that you enjoy teaching in natural settings--can you tell us more about that?
Although I fully enjoy living in the proximity to urban settings and happenings, I crave closeness to nature. I yearn for a direct, sensorial, and tactile relationship with the soil in which plants grow. I long to see natural beauty, smell pines or eucalyptus, touch natural textures, and hear the rain through the stillness of the earth. It is through the stillness that my senses are filled up and strong urges to create emerge. I believe that others are looking to have the same sensations and to evoke similar urges in themselves. We all need a space to connect our inner landscapes with those around us.  An Artful Journey will provide such space.

How does your environment influence your art?
All the environments in me and those that surround me influence my art; material, time, geography, and my emotional world. Chaotic environments bring about raw and honest expressions. However, minimized noise, quieted inner and outer voices, reduced clutter and distraction, bring about art that is contemplative in nature. Art that is revelatory yet holds mystery.

When did art enter your life, and how did it manifest itself?
It entered when I did. As long as I remember. When all was inconstant and love did not seem to be readily available, a piece of paper and a pencil always were. Later on my doodles and drawings provided me with welcomed yet unexpected attention, attention I didn't seem to draw from just being me. Then my creativity was tremendously uplifted by a new spirited mother that appeared in the second half of my childhood years. Since the beginning and till today, art has provided me with the sweetest sense of identity. It is in art that I can lose myself and be found, all at the same time.

What recurring themes come up for you in your journaling?
My own, very special contradictions, fascinate me. Attempting to unify myself through the practice of art journaling seems to be keeping me creating. The interplay between opposing elements, paradoxes, inconsistencies of memories and views of my worlds are constantly expressed in my journals. Concepts of vibrancy and darkness, being prolific vs. having an artist block, innate creativity vs. learned, being outgoing vs. painfully shy, being benevolent vs. selfish, loving vs. holding back, being complex vs. simple...that sort of thing...the list goes on and on. The broad theme can be found throughout my work.

What sets your journaling workshops apart from others?
Art journaling for me is the most honest form of art. The most compelling element of it is that rather than create with beauty in mind, beauty comes into view through the process of creating. It's the ultimate form of expression and as such I have a holistic approach to it.  Interdependence, balance, and interplay between physical and spiritual aspects of the process are highly encouraged through thought and emotion provoking prompts, introduction of unconventional materials, and engagement in unfamiliar processes and techniques, personal explorations and discoveries.

Your work is so deep and thoughtful; what has been your greatest influence?
I believe my work was greatly shaped by a deep sense of lack. Absence of things that I greatly needed. It emerged from empty places. My voids influenced it. It is from the nothingness that my need to fill up blank pages came about, to create spaces that are self-sufficient, worlds that are rich. My work contains my world and those worlds I create for myself. It clearly defines my needs for me and fulfills them in a peculiar way.
What do you hope your students come away with, particularly when having the luxury of spending 3 uninterrupted days with you?
The rare opportunity of having a continuous and indulgent 3-day workshop will provide students with time to really shed layers of defenses and truly allow themselves to be in a beautiful natural flow of creativity. Students will come away with a grand sense of renewed joy and awareness of their powers to express themselves freely and abundantly. This will translate into a sense of health, both physically and spiritually. Beside it doesn't harm to go home with a stunning journal filled with natural and self made personal wonders.

What are you most looking forward to, as you prepare for An Artful Journey?
Driving up from Southern California to the enchanting mountains of Santa Cruz, with my 12 year old daughter, to take part in a most beautiful collaboration of nature and humanity to make art, is what I am immensely looking forward to. Absolutely the best way to celebrate one's birthday in my world.

For even more insight into Orly's creative spirit, check out these videos on her blog.  There are still a few spots open at the retreat—you can read all about Orly's 3-day Nature Journaling workshop here.

Thanks, Orly, for sharing your Self with us--can't wait to see you in February! (and maybe YOU too...) 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The great escape

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Robin, and I took off for the tiny town of Neskowin on the Oregon coast. We had nothing planned, nowhere we had to be—we packed up her car and left Portland behind as we meandered down the highway toward the coast. We stayed in a funky condo right on the water, and spent a blissful five days doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

                Robin's amazing fabric hearts
We stitched (well, mostly she stitched); we watched the ocean change moods almost hourly; we ate a whole lot of really good food; we walked a bit; we went rummaging through antique shops; we drove; we ate some more.

                            My little stitched 'no-things'

I took a good fall one morning when I ran outside and slipped in the mud, landing flat on my back. Check out the cool mud pattern on my sleep shirt (yes, I still had my jammies on--don't ask).  This is only a smidgen of the damage to my clothes; I completely ruined a brand-new sweatshirt.  Luckily, I was able to limp walk away with just a bruised tailbone and some neck/back pain for a few days.  I got off easy, that's for sure.  A good reminder for me to slow down...

Robin and I met some years back when we both attended Artfest and shared a rental car from Seattle to Port Townsend. I had already planned to stay over in downtown Seattle for a couple of days after the retreat, but Robin was due to head back to Sacramento. On the way to the airport, she turned to me and asked if she could use my phone.  She called her husband and told him she'd like to stay a couple more days...and the rest, as they say, is history. We don't get to see each other more than once or twice a year, but we just pick up where we left off.  Our friendship is easy, and solid, and true--and I'm very grateful for it.  It sure is comforting to know there's someone by your side just in case you take a little tumble from time to time.

And boy, was I in for a big surprise when I got back home.  Max had taught himself how to read while I was gone—take a look!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hurry, hurry!

If you've been intending to sign up for the February Retreat, you might want to rush on over and register--most classes are almost filled, as is the Center! I'm thrilled with the response, and so pleased that there are so many returnees. It's going to be a really wonderful, creative respite after the hustle-bustle holiday season.
With the weather keeping me inside most of the past couple of days (crazy sun, rain, sun, hail, rain, sun, etc, etc. here in northern CA), I've been playing around with my Iphone photo app a little. Who knew?! (Probably everyone but me...) And aren't those cool ribbons? They just may end up somewhere in the gifties that I'm making for the journeyers. Hmmm....

This is my favorite corner in my family room, with flea-market dresser, vintage chair, and yes, that's one of Stephanie Lee's art pieces on the wall. LOVE her work! She'll be teaching here in February as well--lucky us!

Max is also using the weather as an excuse to hunker down and get cozy. Smart cat, that one!