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…)