MIXT: Collage on Old Book Boards

Orly and I are friends who both live in Salem and share a love of old books. What started as an idea last fall, blossomed into something beautiful: a collaborative workshop with Orly and myself. We met to dream about what we would offer, to come up with a title, and to figure out how we would present the class.

Once our ideas began to take shape, we had several photos taken of us together, named our workshop MIXT: Collage on Old Book Boards, and decided that we would each teach two days in our four-day class. The class took place last week and was held in NE Portland at the gorgeous former studio of Flora Bowley. (An added benefit was that Orly and I got to stay at the studio, which has been made into an AirBnB – the commute to and from class was divine.)

Orly taught the first two days, and I taught the second two days. It was a whirlwind of tearing books apart, doing creative drawing exercises, playing with transfers, making our own painted collage papers, and creating the biggest mess we could. No words needed; the photos tell the story.

The workshop was a lovely success. The weather was perfect, and we were able to eat outside on the lovely grounds of the studio and take walks in the morning and evening. Everyone created a series of beautiful collages, incorporating the varied methods and ideas that both of us taught. There was laughter, silence, tears, the sound of paper being ripped, and the sound of a squeaky brayer. Orly and I deepened our friendship as we shared this time and experience together.

2017 Was a Wild Ride!

The past year has been the most exciting and exhilarating of my art career. It all stared in the fall of 2016 when I told people, I have nothing major on my calendar for the upcoming year. I plan to just play and explore. And then everything changed . . . .

I’ve blogged about most of these events, but here is an abbreviated summary of my 2017 art life.

Spare Parts Show at the Salem Public Library


Art Featured in New Book: Cold Wax Medium

Solo Show at Guardino Gallery: Waterlines

Salem Art Association Mentorship Program

Taught an Oil and Cold Wax Class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology

Private Master Class with Pat Wheeler

Two Person Show at Borland Gallery

11th Annual Day of the Dead Show at Guardino Gallery

Artist in Residence at the Salem Art Association Art Annex

Salem Art Association Panel Discussion

What’s Your Story Workshop

Symbols Show at the Art Annex

Guest on KMUZ Talking About Art

Sitka Art Invitational

17th Annual Guardino Gallery Little Things Show

BEST IN SHOW Something Red Art Walk

It was a great year. And I’m not making any proclamations about 2018. Mum’s the word.

What’s Your Story: Artist in Residence Concludes

My month long Artist in Residence  (AIR) at the Salem Art Association’s Art Annex, ended on November 22. I moved into my temporary studio on October 24th (and blogged about it on October 25th and again on October 31st). It was a busy and exciting month of creating a series of mixed media collages on watercolor paper, as well as pushing myself into some new territory.

Where I hung out for a month, located in the middle of Bush’s Pasture Park.


Welcome to my studio . . . .



During my Artist in Residence, I had open studio hours and loved having visitors.

A page from my guest book.


Stephanie and Tory stopped for a visit; Jim and Jo Hockenhull were frequent visitors and brought their nephew.


Visitors to the Annex stopped to check out my project.


Cynthia worked on collages she started in my earlier workshop. Howard stopped by to wire some of my art.


Irene enjoyed looking at my old photos.


Nic (Dave) and Sloy (Sandra) stopped for a visit.

I completed an expansive body of work. Here are ten of my completed mixed media collages, all created using black and white photos of strangers.


For those curious about what the day-to-day experience of my AIR was like, I’m sharing some of my journal entries and corresponding photographs.

Wednesday, October 25: First official day of AIR. Fine tuning my set up. Brought in another table, also a comfortable roller chair. I will finalize my class packets today, hang sample collages, and hopefully get started on sample technique cards: paint, plaster, transfer, inks . . . .


Wednesday, November 1: Ready to settle in to do my own work, but first I need to finish putting things away from Saturday’s workshop and put away my bounty from Sunday’s antique EXPO. Of course, all my stuff makes me reevaluate how I have things organized, but I get joy from organizing it and I am continually inspired and come up with new ideas.

Wednesday, November 3: My brain is full and bursting with ideas. I try and jot notes as ideas form and then transfer the ideas into my journal. TAKE AWAY: Dedicated daily studio time is essential for spinning off new ideas and to create a body of work. Yesterday I worked with transfers and backgrounds. I will continue with that thread. Also, wood. I am moving away from paper and toward wood.

Wednesday, November 8: A full day ahead, as many hours as I want or need. Continuing to work on wood pieces, especially the crate pieces. I must tackle the center of the wood pieces; stymied by the transfer image I put in the middle. I need to build a surface. Color? Plaster? Original style: collage on complex background? Or grid using papers, and then unified by collage (simple or complex). Yikes. I’m stuck.

Thursday, November 9: Yesterday was extremely productive and I landed on an idea for the three wood pieces, which gave me focus. Today I will hopefully create three book cover collages (or five . . . .). I will also finish 3-5 collages for my wall in the style of the original pieces. Fun to continue expanding that vision. Not bored with it after all.

Wednesday, November 15: Rainy and I wanted to stay home, tucked inside, but I’m honoring my commitment and I showed up. Puttering with paper collages and getting ready to sand and stain my plastered boards. I’ll begin to lay out book covers, matching a photo with a library check out card – I’ve got some good ones. Counting today, only four more days of my AIR . . . . unless I work this weekend. It’s possible.

Three completed pieces showcasing defaced book covers.


“The Accuracy of Memory,” by Dayna J. Collins.


“Years Bleach Away the Sense of Things,” by Dayna J. Collins.


“The Familiarity of Something,” by Dayna J. Collins.

Tuesday, November 20: Final day of working in the studio. Feeling sad to be leaving. I’ve treated my time here as a job, showing up regularly and moving my projects along, gaining new ideas and insights along the way. Today is a bit about photography – capturing images, more than enough. My friend Stephanie said I was part archivist, part storyteller, part mad scientist. Another quote to post.

My big, beautiful, and expansive inspiration wall.


Wednesday, November 21: Packing up and moving out.

Taking down the last of my inspiration wall.


Packed up and moved out.


I’ve spent the past few days getting settled into Studio A, my space for the past three years at The Art Studios at Mission Mill, located on the second floor of the Wool Warehouse at the Willamette Heritage Center. It feels good to be back and I’ve already been working on my What’s Your Story project.

I’ll end by sharing a quote from my friend, Stephanie Brockway:

I love your alternative history exploration. This speaks to me so loudly, not everyone was important. Some lived quiet lives, with no heirs, lives boxed up, taken to the curbside and scattered to the wind. Taking the broken fragments, detritus, and ephemera is such an act of love and respect… conserving with a twist, the odd elements of the human condition never cease to amaze me, too. I’m hyperventilating about our next archaeological dig and what might be found and discovered.

What’s Your Story: Filming, Panel Discussion, and Workshop


Last week my Artist in Residence studio was abuzz with activity. On Thursday, our local television studio interviewed Kathy and Sandra about the one year anniversary of the Art Annex and then interviewed me as the current Artist in Residence.

On Friday night, the Salem Art Association hosted a panel discussion titled, Caring For Personal Objects Through Archiving and Art. The panel consisted of archivists, historians, curators — and then me, who unabashedly uses photos and ephemera in mixed media art pieces. It was a lively and informative discussion. My friend Stephanie wrote me a beautiful note as I prepared for the discussion:

I love your alternative history exploration. This speaks to me so loudly. Not everyone was important, some lived quiet lives, with no heirs, lives boxed up, taken to the curbside and scattered to the wind. Taking the broken fragments, detritus, and ephemera is such an act of love and respect ….conserving with a twist, the odd elements of the human condition never ceases to amaze me.

On Saturday, I arrived at the Art Annex early to set up for my one day workshop. I spent the day with ten artists, sharing my process for creating mixed media photo collages. Some women brought their own family photos, others used my stash of strangers. The day was fast-paced and filled to the brim with laughter, painted fingers, and debris strewn about.


Some amazing art was created and everyone created multiple mixed media pieces; I’m sharing one piece from each of the ten artists who participated in the class.


What’s your story? Real or imagined?




What’s Your Story: Artist in Residence Begins

Back in August of 2016, I was offered an Artist in Residence position at the Salem Art Association’s new Art Annex. Today I moved into my studio space, which I will call home for the next month.Here’s a description of what I’ll be doing:

Artist in Residence/Dayna Collins

October 25-November 24

Dayna Collins is a collector, energized by hunting for worn out and discarded objects, especially the bits and pieces that aren’t perfect. She hyperventilates when she discovers a box of ephemera or an old photo album that someone is throwing away. During her residency, Dayna will bring her vast collection of old letters, photographs, ticket stubs, bits of vintage lace, envelopes, stamps, string, travel brochures, maps, recipes, report cards, random notes – the detritus of a person’s life – and create vignettes that tell a story. Using paper, paint, cardboard, book covers, and plaster, she will give new life to these cast off, expendable objects, exploring storytelling in unexpected ways, beginning with a black and white photograph of a stranger.

Moved into my temporary studio space today at Salem Art Association’s Art Annex.

Dropped my stuff, then figured out where everything should go.


I brought so much stuff!


Utilizing every space, nook, and cranny.


Stacks, piles, and rows.

NOTE: I’ll be in the studio most weekdays and the public is invited to stop by and see what I’m working on. I will be posting on my personal Facebook page the days and times I will be in the Art Annex Studio. I’ll have these posts set to public, so if you’re thinking about visiting, please take a look to see if I’ll be there: Dayna Davidson Collins


In addition to the residency, there are several upcoming events.

Exhibit Reception

Saturday, November 18/4-6 pm/FREE

Symbols are personal. Oftentimes they’re stories that incorporate one’s religious, cultural and familial imagery. These things often prod memories and ideas, bringing to the surface the roots of our ancestry, and other events, times, or places in our lives. This exhibition focuses on artistic interpretations of symbols that are pertinent to family history, holidays or spiritual rituals, heritage and culture.

Participating artists are Dayna Collins, Toni Gilbert, Sarah Dillon Gilmartin, Ann Kresge, Eric Loftin, Susan Napack, Nichole Rose, Jennifer Salzman and Vicky DeKrey Vasey.


Panel Discussion

Friday, October 27/5-7 pm

Please join Ross Sutherland (Bush House Museum), Toni Gilbert (author), Dayna Collins (artist), Kylie Pine (Willamette Heritage Center) and Amber D’Ambrosio (University Archive, Willamette University)  in a conversation about our personal objects, ranging from how to properly care for them using professional methods, examples of how larger organizations approach personal objects,  how we can use some of these methods for our own personal objects and family histories, and how we can utilize our personal and family imagery through art.



Workshop (class is full)

What’s Your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Old Photos

Saturday, October 28/9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Ancestors. We all have them, but do we know their stories. In this class, we’ll build a story based on a black and white photo — real relatives or “adopted” ones. We will create aged backgrounds using paint and stains, then build a collaged vignette using old letters, ephemera, envelopes, lace, tape, trim, string, and a variety of lightweight found objects. Working in a grid, everyone will create a patchwork quilt of stories, which we’ll put together in honor of those who came before us.


In addition to all of this excitement, I’ll be interviewed on Thursday for a local television station and then on Friday, November 10th, I’ll be on Joel Zak’s KMUZ radio show, Talking About Art, sharing about my project and Artist in Residence. More about all of this later.

The view out my window: Bush’s Pasture Park.

What’s Your Story Registration is Now Open

For the past year, I’ve been working on a special project titled What’s Your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Black and White Photos. You can read more about it here and here. My vision has led to a month long artist-in-residence this fall at the Salem Art Association’s ART ANNEX, a panel discussion in October (more on this later), and a one-day workshop (read on). I’m happy to announce that registration is now open for the workshop.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, October 28, from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. The cost is $75 plus a $25 materials fee. I’ll be supplying you with black and white photos of strangers and everything you need to create a series of collages. Of course, if you want to showcase family members or friends, you are welcome to bring your own black and white photographs as well as personal letters and ephemera. Here is a description of the class:

Ancestors. We all have them, but do we know their stories. In this class, we’ll build a story based on a black and white photo — real relatives or “adopted” ones. We will create aged backgrounds using paint and stains, then build a collaged vignette using old letters, ephemera, envelopes, lace, tape, trim, string, and a variety of lightweight found objects. Working in a grid, everyone will create a patchwork quilt of stories, which we’ll put together in honor of those who came before us.

All materials are provided including watercolor paper, photographs, ephemera, lightweight found objects, embellishments, and everything needed to create a series of collages.

However, students may bring any of the following if they wish to personalize their pieces:

Black and white photographs of family/friends; the smaller the photos the better

Anecdotes and stories if the person in the photos is known

Ephemera, i.e., letters, envelopes, tickets, tags, brochures, programs, etc., any kind of paper trail

Lightweight personal found objects, i.e., feathers, buttons, pieces of lace or fabric, vintage trims, postage stamps, etc., personal to the person being featured.

To register, simply go to the registration page of the Art Annex and scroll down to my workshop.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to gather and collect old photographs and the detritus of lives well lived. And a huge thank you to those friends who have gifted me with old family photo albums, bundles of letters, and so many wonderful found objects and ephemera, that I’ve been moved to tears.

We’ll be taking all of these wonderful treasures and assembling them into a series of collages that tell personal stories. Real or imagined.

The other exciting news is that in conjunction with my month-long artist in residence, a group show, Symbols, will be taking place in The Annex. I’ve included a link to the Call for Artists. Proposals are due September 1, so act quickly.