How my cards happen

Art Gallery

Madhuri’s creativity unfolds with fun!

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Every two or three years, I know it’s time to immerse myself for a time in the tactile, hue-drenched world of my particular art. I spread a plastic tarp on the floor, lay out my materials, and get in amongst those piles of paper, paints, glue, scissors, glitter, bindis… and, without being in the least bit bothered about straight lines and symmetry and such things, I just fool around. For some reason I love to create envelopes and cards – in my aloneness, to make things that are for giving to some other person, with love. This is a contradiction that seems to exactly suit my nature. (Envelopes I’ve been making since I was a teen; cards began in 2005, a year after brain surgery, when I was feeling joyful and creative and relaxed.)

I am not a trained artist – I took a drawing course once and when it was done, I immediately reverted to the way I had always drawn – just kind of winging it. Sometimes things come out realistic, mostly just swooping lines to suggest a mood. Drawings, paintings done all haphazard and gleeful, soaking and throwing and daubing and smearing color, color, color – and then cutting and gluing paper and card. Hinges made from random little designs I’ve drawn and inked in with fibre-tips or crayons or pencil or hi-lighter, in odd moments during the year.

One card goes through many stages: the initial cardstock might have been soaked and painted, then put away for years. Or another artist might have given me a half-finished or discarded painting (I love ‘found’ materials). My own paintings I’ve tired of, cut into rough rectangles. Then, when it’s time, I start to build on this. Paint, draw, dry, put aside… Then pair fronts and backs, hinges, glue it all, oh yes I love glueing things together and then sandwiching them inside phone books or magazines and leaving them for 48 hours – then with excitement getting them out again, and seeing them all nice and squashed flat! It’s like a cake that’s been mixed and then put in the oven and comes out transformed.

And then finishing with fabric paint for texture, plus glitter, bindis, whatever I can find to stick on things. (I know when a card is done because it just feels done, in my tummy somewhere.)

And then the strange envelopes, made from maps, or photos cut from magazines, or my own drawings or mandalas, coloring-book pages… I am not afraid of excess, nor of brightness, nor of complication, nor of botching, waywardness, or anything else that might occur.

This is pure play – hour after hour, forgetting time – addictive, soothing, childlike, and so much fun. I love scissors! I love paper! I feel like a duck in a pond, standing up on the water and flapping his wings, showering water about on all sides, and honking with joyous life!

I listen to an audiobook – just now a Daphne du Maurier, with pleasing posh accents – and, come late afternoon, bring in a tall glass of kombucha diluted just a bit with sparkling water. Oh yes!

This is my time-out-of-time, my unbothered recreation, a welcome change from writing or doing sessions – and the fact that I end up producing far too many cards and envelopes for even the most passionate correspondent to ever use up – is beside the point. (Last batch: 813 cards, 1137 envelopes. That took a year of lockdown, with a goodly portion of my sitting-room given over to the lovely mess.) The fact that everybody uses email is beside the point. When I go through a huge stack of cards later to find just the right one for somebody’s birthday or whatever, I am filled with happiness. Such riches! And, once in a while somebody buys a little stack of them – and reports to me later what pleasure a friend felt on receiving one…

But the joy is in the making; and sometimes I worry: When I am gone, what will anyone do with them all? But that is future; a thing not to be concerned with… right now I want just to make more.

It is so exciting to sort through piles of paper, card, image (I collect these things from all over, for months or years in advance), seeing what might go with what! What might be witty, subtle, harmonizing. It is difficult to stop at night to brush my teeth and make my way towards bed…

This is my way to come back to the most primitive flow – speechless, tactile, visual, lit-up by voice; all these things combining – and I don’t know why, or from where any of it arises – and so it is the Unknown and the Mystery, and thus so very very refreshing.


Madhuri is a healer, artist, poet and author of several books, Mistakes on the Path being her latest memoir.

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