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.
I love having a daily art project, something quick and easy and not too complicated. Having this type of project gets me into my studio, even on days when I only have a little bit of time or when I’m not feeling like painting or doing something big. Last year I kept a daily journal where I filled the pages with words, collages, and small paintings. One year I did a painting a day in a series of spiral bound journals. For this year, I am creating a collage each day and I have titled my project Lexicon of Collage. For my substrate, I am using matboard cut into 4×6 inch pieces (I ordered the matboard in a size of my choosing from Matboard and More, a company I have used for a lot of projects over the years).
For most of the collages I make, I use pieces of my hand painted papers, which I create using acrylic paint on various papers, i.e., drawing, deli, tissue, and paper bags. I divide these papers by color, making it easy to find just what I need.
When I’m ready to create a collage, I reach for my painted papers, text and typography, bits of ephemera, scraps from old books, and random pieces of collected papers. I audition the papers and when I have a composition I like, I start gluing using Golden semi-gloss soft gel medium.
Once I have glued down my collage material, I place a piece of wax paper over the collage and then a stack of heavy books on top (or a bag of rice), and let it dry for several hours (or overnight). Once the glue is set, I often have raggedy edges that I like to trim using an Xacto knife. Once the collages are trimmed, I apply a thin coat of Golden’s semi-gloss soft gel medium, the same medium I use for gluing the papers.
There are several benefits to having a daily project. As I mentioned above, this type of project gets me into my studio. But even more than propelling me to make art daily, it pushes me to experiment and play with a variety of compositions, unusual color combinations, and ways to create little pieces of art that hopefully take my breath away, that cause a gasp of delight, all the things that I want to happen in my bigger paintings.A bonus: I have already used some of my collages as inspirations for my paintings.
Another fun addition to this project is how I share my completed collages. About once a week, give or take, I share a grouping of collages I have created. I started inviting friends (and family) to be my guest collage flippers. I videotape my invited collage flipper and share the videos on Instagram. Here are some of my invited flippers.
For more regular updates on this project, follow on me on Instagram where I regularly post videos of my guest collage flippers and/or sign up for my monthly newsletter, where I do periodic updates about my Lexicon of Collage project.
The marriage of paint and collage was much tougher than I imagined. I have been a painter for years, I have been a collagist for even longer, but putting the two together has been a painful labor of love . . . . and finally came together.
I had been moving toward combining paint and collage over the past couple of years, trying to figure out a way of adding paint over collage, and collage over paint, discovering the right balance of revealing and concealing. Adding collage to a board is easy for me, but I never wanted to cover it up with paint. Or I would create a collage, feel brave, add paint, but before I knew it, every bit of the collage was covered up.
My art group, the Band of Artists Collective, has a show opening tonight and I was determined to have my mixed media pieces reflect the successful pairing of collage and paint. I experimented in a small journal, doing quick collages on a series of pages. But I liked the collages and didn’t want to mess them up with paint. Reminding myself that my word for this year is RISK, I spread some paint over a collage. I liked the painting, but the collage was gone. What the hell.
It came time to submit images for our upcoming show. I didn’t have any completed pieces and what if I never found my way to adding paint to collage (or collage to paint). So I submitted photos of two 12×12 inch paintings that were somewhat in the style I hoped to complete, although the work did not have one bit of collage in them.
But the challenge was mine, no one else knew I was attempting to pull off this arduous (to me) task. The fear grew, and I became paralyzed. Until I decided to push through. The opportunity came in the form of spending two weeks in Palm Springs in late January. We had rented a modern condo with a large dining room table (that was my main criteria in choosing our rental). I loaded up 12 12×12 inch flat birch panels, three working journals, two big bags of acrylic paint, a gigantic bag of collage materials, and a satchel of art supplies. I claimed the table (and the kitchen bar, and the kitchen prep counter, and sometimes the floor) as my work space. We were in Palm Springs to celebrate Howard’s birthday and his retirement, so he was there to golf. I was there to paint and collage. It was a beautiful win/win situation.
Daily, I worked in my journals.
I glued down collage onto the 12 boards.
Then I sidetracked myself to create a fresh batch of painted collage papers (that process is worthy of an entire blog post!).
And then I did what I had been hesitant to do. I started combining paint and collage in any way I could think to do it. If I did too much painting, I just added more collage. Sometimes I painted too much on purpose and glued collage on top. Sometimes I painted over the collage, revealing tiny bits of the collage beneath the surface. I sanded, I scraped, I reapplied paint, and added more collage.
I started to find my rhythm and I was having fun.
A body of work came together. I had started with the idea of creating six pieces for the show, and then it grew to nine. At the end of our two weeks in Palm Springs, I had twelve boards with potential. After we got home, I fine tuned a few of the panels and I had 12 that were show worthy – a beautiful grid.
Here are the 12 that are in the show.
Traces opens tonight . . . . next up, my blog about the show.
I have too many flippin’ journals all going at once, so what am I thinking starting another one. I am a sucker for journals. At the current time I am actively working in several. Follow me . . . .
Color Journal: A place to keep track of colors I like, the brands of colors because not all colors are the same, what happens when certain colors are mixed together, formulas of colors I like, and the Pantone color of the year (this year it is Very Peri).
A small painting journal where I have combined paintings with art quotes on the opposite page. This has been in process for the past couple of years.
A vintage book where I wipe off excess paint from my palette, clean off my brushes on the pages, glue in leftover tidbits, and experiment with quick ideas that pop into my head.
Visual Journal: This 9×12 inch journal is my hard-working jack of all trades journal. I take notes in it when I take a class, record ideas for a painting or a show, sketch out ideas, and take notes at art meetings. This is my official visual journal and has been a key part of my art practice for many years. The journals are lined up in my studio with little tags indicating the dates covered in each journal.
Collage Journal: An old composition book where a student kept notes and did engineering types of drawing, and also glued in tests and notes. I use this journal to create collage compositions right over the writing and drawings. The glued in papers I have torn out, but gluey residue peeks through on many of the pages.
Junk Journal: I created this big chunky book out of hundreds of pieces of old papers, collage materials, and ephemera, and created three signatures (or was it four? the journal is thick). The junk part was my use of junky papers, but then I have gone back in and embellished the pages, fleshing out more complete collage compositions. I have been working on this one for months!
Covid Journal: When Covid hit in full force in early 2020, I took one of the junk journals I had made and recorded milestones and statistics for the first full year of our lockdown. Every once in a while I will go back in make a note or update the statistics. Sadly, I am entering the third year of entries.
Travel Journal: Anytime we take a biggish trip, I maintain a travel journal. My most recent travel journal was done in September when we spent a couple of weeks in New York. I used a handmade artist journal and cut and glued paper and ephemera from our daily excursions.
Which brings me to January, 2022, and the decision to what I plan to do regarding a journal in the new year. In 2019 I committed to painting a painting a day in a 9×9 inch journal and somehow I pulled it off. Sometimes I was playing catch up, but for the most part keeping that painting journal got me into my studio. Every. Single.Day. (And it took seven journals to get through the year.)
A few of my favorite paintings from my 2019 journals:
In deciding what kind of journal would be most enjoyable, I flashed back to 2012 when I used “The Open Daybook,” a perpetual calendar book, edited by David P. Earle. I remember buying this big book of a journal at Monograph Bookwerks (fine art books, objects, + ephemera), located in NE Portland, and I was so excited to use it to record what I did every day for a year. Each page has original art by 365 artists (actually 371 as some worked in groups), so the imagery and graphics were always a treat.
A few of my pages from 2012. My entries were short and sweet, but really captured in detail how I spent my days.
That year of record keeping got me to thinking about what kind of journal I would keep now, ten years later. I keep a lot of visual journals (obviously, from the list above), and I have a calendar on my desk. But what if I kept my own sort of Daybook, a cross between what I did today, but coupled with a sprinkling of collage, dabs of paint, imagery, ideas, quotes, and what is on my mind (now there’s a scary thought). I liked the sound of this combination and I just happened to have the right journal for the job (cue the dramatic music), a chunky beast of a journal, built by Leather Village craftspeople.
I wrote a private preamble on New Year’s Eve, then jumped in on January 1st.
We laugh and we laugh and there is nothing else like it in the world.
A beautiful opportunity presented itself last June and after giving it some deep thought, I accepted a commission to create a painting in honor of a loved one who had passed. My collector (and friend) knew she wanted the piece to include collage and paint, but was open to how I would incorporate the two. We met at my house a couple of times to look through photos, passports, music, and ephemera, which all represented an interesting and rich life. I got a better idea of what she was thinking and proposed that I include words throughout the process, along with an initial layer of collage. It was agreed that the words and collage would imbue the piece with the spirit of this person, but the next layers would be an abstract landscape to reflect the color and vibrancy of a life lost too soon.
After I had a chance to go through the stacks of materials, we met again to make a few more decisions, giving me clarity of which original documents I would use to energize the painting. I decided I would create two paintings alongside each other so my collector would have a choice between which piece resonated with her the most. I chose to work on cradled panels: 24×36 inches and 30×40 inches.
Over several months, the two boards were painted, writing added, a second layer of paint, bigger and bolder words added, and then a complete layer of collage, with just snippets of the underlying words peeking through.
The process of alternating layers of acrylic paint with words continued, and eventually I began to focus on the composition, moving toward an abstracted landscape. I was pleased, but not satisfied, so in a fit of knowing I wasn’t finished, I took both boards to the back yard and using an electric sander, sanded the surface of both paintings, revealing the various layers as I sanded. Snippets of words, paint, and even some of the earlier layers of collage were revealed.
It was around this time I decided I would switch mediums and move to applying layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. The vibrancy of oil and cold wax and the rich luminosity of the materials seemed like the right choice. I took the smaller of the two boards with me to Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in early September, where I was teaching a four-day workshop in oil and cold wax. I taught during the day, and then when the students went home for the night, I went into the studio and worked on the 24×36 inch piece, building layers of oil and cold wax.
When I got home, I continued to work on “Trying So Hard to Listen,” with more layers of oil and cold wax.
I completed the 24×36 inch piece on October 4, 2021, and titled it “Trying So Hard to Listen.”
I had also started to add layers of oil and cold wax to the larger piece, “On My Journey Home.”
The larger piece, 30×40 inches, was completed on my birthday, October 14, and I titled it “On My Journey Home.”
My wonderful friend and collector decided she wanted both of the paintings and in mid December, the paintings were delivered and hung. It was such an honor to see them hanging, knowing that they each had multiple layers of images, words, and paint and reflected emotional energy, love, and memories of a life well lived.
A journey of discovering that I love people, I love myself, I love my secrets.
In my last post, Little Paintings, I shared how I painted small oil and cold wax paintings on Arches Oil Paper by taping small squares of the paper to a large piece of newsprint or butcher paper. I briefly mentioned how I remove the tape . . . . this post is what I do with the tape that I removed.
Over the past couple of years, I have saved and collected all of the pieces of tape I have removed from the little taped down paintings. (Do you think I’m a bit compulsive? Or obsessive?)
I am always amazed by the beautiful little abstract paintings on the pieces of tape, sometimes even wishing I could paint a larger painting using the pieces of tape as inspiration. . . . and then inspiration struck. What if I used the strips of tape to create an abstract painting? I like stripes, I like color, I like abstract, and I like recycling and reuse. I started auditioning the strips of tape. Before too long, I had a pleasing arrangement and composition and I started gluing down the strips.
For my first piece, I mounted the tape pieces onto a 4×10 inch cradled panel.
And hung it in our brightly colored kitchen at the House of Color in Astoria.
By then I was smitten so I forged ahead and taped down strips of color onto four 6×6-inch cradled panels.
These four pieces have been added to my online shop and are $100 each (which includes shipping in the US).
We spent the last two weeks of September in Brooklyn, New York, so of course I logged our trip with a Salvage Collage junk journal.
I didn’t make my own journal, but used one created by my friend Laurie at Black Dog Studio. It came with a nice variety of papers, including some heavy watercolor paper, so I was able to adhere all kinds of papers, post cards, street fliers, and whatever paper materials I could scrounge. It was a bit more challenging on this trip because during a pandemic, there isn’t as much print material as usual. But being the scrounger and junker that I am, I managed to cobble together a pretty interesting journal.
We rented a tiny Airbnb apartment in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. I set up my make do studio on a tiny desk in the corner of the tiny bedroom with a nice view of the fire escape and the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
I hunted and gathered each day, my piles of possible fodder growing and expanding, and I used the bed as a place to sort.
Every night after a day of exploring Brooklyn (or Manhattan), I returned to our apartment, where I cut and pasted the scraps I gathered during the day, into my journal. The journal began to take on a life of its own. I didn’t keep a chronological travelogue, or even write about our days. I just ripped, cut, and glued, creating a collaged journal with visual reminders of our first big trip in three years.
On our return trip, we turned a two hour layover in San Francisco into a three day layover (so I could see the Joan Mitchell exhibitat the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). My travel journal just kept growing, setting up my studio on the desk in the corner of our hotel room.
A week ago, I announced in my newsletter that I was giving up my studio at Studios at the Mill.
I wrote an extensive history about my studio space on my blog in August of 2020, and I’ve included a link in case you want to know more about my tenure at the studios. In a nutshell, I was one of the original members of the studios seven years ago. Interestingly, this was what I wrote in that 2020 post:
I love how sparse it is right now and full of possibilities. I have absolutely no idea how I will use my refurbished, refreshed, and quiet space. Maybe for reading art books that I never seem to have time for. Maybe for journaling. Maybe for writing about ideas. Maybe I’ll bring a specific project to work on. Or bring a limited number of materials and do a collage or journal page using only what is before me. Maybe, maybe, maybe . . . .
It turns out that I used the studio once a couple of months ago when I invited a friend to join me for an afternoon of art-making. We each brought a project to work on; we pulled our tables together and had the best afternoon. That was the first and last time I used my space since August of 2020, and even then, I hadn’t used my studio since March of 2020. All my art-making supplies had been brought home early last year. I have two nice studios at my home: a painting studio upstairs and a wonderful collage and assemblage studio in my basement.
Studio A has served me well, but it was never big enough for what I needed and I never made it there to just sit and read or write or draw, as I had dreamed of doing. I realized it just wasn’t going to happen, but it took a few months for me to come to this realization.
Shortly after I gave my notice, I started removing what remained in my studio, primarily furniture. After three full days of shuffling at home, I found a place for everything. In the process, my basement studio now has an expansive work space and is more functional. My upstairs studio wasn’t too impacted, and remains a great space to paint. I don’t have any regrets about my decision, but it was bittersweet when I closed the door for the final time.
So what happened to those 100+pieces of art I created from January 31 through mid May? The ones I blogged about on March 21st at the half way point and the ones I celebrated on May 12th when I completed the project?
I turned some of them into cards so I can write thank you notes to people who purchase paintings.
But I had the most fun matting 44 of the paintings and collages I created. If you aren’t familiar with the project, artists were challenged to create a piece of art or do something creative for 100 days (my entire process was documented on Instagram at DaynaLovesArt). We were encouraged to investigate a particular medium, theme, or idea. My chosen project was to create art on scraps of the lowly brown paper bag. So, I ripped apart lots of paper bags that I had stashed away, and for 100 days I painted using acrylics or oil and cold wax, or I collaged using scraps of paper, or I combined a bit of paint and collage. I ended up with over 100 pieces of abstract art. I chose 44 of them to seal with varnish, then glued those pieces to a backer board, adhered a 45-degree beveled edge mat to frame the art, wrote the day I created the piece, signed my name, and put each piece in a clear bag. Whew. I’m tired just writing the various steps.
Then the more behind the scenes work began. After the pieces were ready, I wrote a description of how I created each piece, took photos, and turned the photos and text over to my IT/business manager/website guruspecialistwilling partner for posting in my Shop: 100 DayProject. But here’s the thing/the small print/the catch. I have been trying to grow my email list so I am shamelessly soliciting sign ups by announcing when this special shop will open to subscribers ahead of when I announce it more publicly. My June newsletter is about ready to launch, so I thought I would make a final push and give my friends, art lovers, curious followers, and even my family, the opportunity to sign up for my newsletter. The newsletter will share two things in particular about this project: 1) when the shop will open for purchasing these pieces, and 2) why I am pricing these pieces at $49 (which includes shipping). You might be thinking, “Another newsletter?!?” Yawn. I promise that my newsletters aren’t too long, I include content that isn’t shared on other social medium platforms (or at least different photos), and I won’t bombard you with lots of emails. If I have your interest at all, just click on the link, which will take you to my website where you can sign up. NEWSLETTER LINK
About now you are probably thinking, or at least I would be, enough with the words, show us some art. Here are some of the pieces that will be available for sale for $49.
Each of these pieces is matted to fit an 8×10 (or larger) frame. In case you can’t envision what that would look like, I put different pieces in an 11×14 frame (with an 8×10 cutout), so you can see the power of a frame.
This was a frame I got very inexpensively at Michael’s, so you can either use a nice frame or an inexpensive one. If you want a smaller profile, these mats will also fit nicely in a simple 8×10 frame.
Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate each of you who support me and my art journey.
It is hard to believe that 100 days ago I embarked on a project where I committed to make a piece of art every day for 100 days. That’s a lot of days and a lot of art. I wrote about the project on Day 50, so if you want more info just click on the link.
In a nutshell, over the past 100 days I created art using scraps of brown paper bags. The mediums I used included oil and cold wax, acrylic paint, and collage. Some of the materials I used in the pieces: black and white photographs, Stabilo Woody Crayons, pencils, vintage ephemera, book scraps, paper frames, and charcoal. Techniques and designs included splatter painting, drawing, stripes, circles, stencils, scraping, tearing, gluing, squeegees, and mark-making.
What I learned during the past 100 days:
True art is in the doing and there is no shortcut for that.
I like to work fast to keep the inner critic quiet.
It was freeing to work on such an unimportant substrate as a brown paper bag.
I kept pushing myself to be bolder and to make more startling moves on my daily pieces.
It was amazing to create so many pieces, and although each piece was different, they created a unified body of work.
Some days it was this project that propelled me to go into my studio. Sometimes I stayed.
Several new ideas emerged from this project and I am letting them percolate for future projects.
A very exciting byproduct was how two of the paper pieces I created inspired bigger paintings!
Here is a random assortment of pieces from the second half of the project:
Right now I am celebrating the completion of the project . . . .
. . . . but I have some ideas brewing for moving forward with these pieces.
I have this wacky idea of offering some of these completed pieces for sale and giving first notice to those who are on my mailing list. Haven’t signed up yet? Want to? Here’s a LINK.