On the third day of classes at ArtFest this year, I was lucky enough to be assigned to Orly Avineri's Mail Art class. It was the perfect choice for day Three of ArtFest. (For those of you Dear Readers who have never attended ArtFest let me just say that by day Three you are exhausted. You are exhausted by overwhelmingly wonderful classes, brimming with new things to learn and master; exhausted by laughing too much, staying up too late, channeling the joy and excitement that is inherently ArtFest. It's a good exhaustion, but you are still beginning to fade....)
Orly is a wonderful teacher. She starts things out by being very orderly. Everyone follows the same steps in the same order. (You chose your own pallet.) You just sort of do as you're told and trust in Orly to take you to a place where it all comes together and becomes your own art. And it always does!
I love it that I can sit down in Orly's class and turn over control to a teacher who obviously loves to teach and has a plan.
We used large pieces of watercolor paper. First we got them wet and applied acrylic ink in whatever method felt right. I squirted the stuff all over and took great pleasure in watching it begin to blend together. When the blending did not happen soon enough, I held the paper up so it could run together in interesting ways. Then I folded it over on itself and had a sort of mini Rorschach test. Then, just when you are beginning to really like what you've just let happen, Orly has you turn the whole sheet over and begin to work on the other side. Now, please remember, all that acrylic ink is wet. It's now face down on the paper covering the table. You've just....let go of control. You're in free fall. It's wonderful!
And now you are facing another white page. Orly has you add some collage elements from a stash of papers she always provides to her classes. You randomly pick out some, and randomly, glue them down. Then you add gesso. Over everything. You can wipe away some of the gesso from the collaged spots, if you wish, or leave them covered, or whatever! Then acrylic paint is added. In your colors. With black or without black. You can add more gesso, more color, penwork, whatever feels right. Once you have a nicely covered sheet and it is dry enough to tear (or cut), you get your postcard shapes torn out. (I like a torn edge.)
Now you have a pile of cards that you add more ephemera and collage to, more paint, ink, penwork, whatever. This is where your point of view comes to the foreground and it becomes something you are in control of again. You are creating the postcard. You are fiddling and adding and embellishing and making it your art, your work. And by this time you are so relaxed and into the process, it's easy. It's fun. It's joyous!
Oh, I tell you, that Orly! She has a plan!
We made envelopes out of "found" paper. I took two very different papers, one a celestial map and the other of a monk, glued the sheets to each other along an edge, folded it up into an envelope shape, taped the edges with Japanese washi tape and voila! A one-of-a-kind envelope, worthy of enclosing some wonderful missive or treasure to be snail mailed to someone worthy.
The lovely young woman above was my table mate in the class. She was charming, delightful, shared all her goodies with me and kept me entertained all day. I think (Good Lord, I am so bad at remembering names!!!) her name was Missy. I am sure she is from Arkansas. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with her. (If you read this, Missy, please let me know if I have your name right. If not, let me fix this post!)
Below is the adorable, the talented and the beautiful Orly Avineri. Thank you for a wonderful day. I have been sending my postcards all over, to friends and family near and far. I will use up my present supply of postcards and then make more, thanks to you.