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.
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.
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.
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.
In December, I was invited by my friend Chardel to be the Spotlight Artist in Create Whimsy, an online journal/photo album. The publication is filled with photos and articles, but defies a typical format so I asked Chardel, the editor at Create Whimsy, to describe their format and mission.
At Create Whimsy, we’re artists, builders, makers, crafters and creators – just like you. We share the stories of makers and what they make, inspiring creativity in our everyday lives. But we’re more than a photo album. We not only want to see what you create, we want to know what inspired you, how you did it, the insights you learned in the process. That’s what we are passionate about, and it’s the kind of website we wanted to create. Finding inspiration is important, and so is finding help from a community. That’s what we strive for. The journeys of other artists inspire us in our own work, so that’s what we hope to achieve for our readers – validation for what you are doing or the catalyst to try a new direction. And eye candy. We delight in eye candy! We hope that Create Whimsy gives you the confidence to make some art and show it off! We are happy to answer questions at email@example.com
December got busy and turned into January, my show at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria was delivered and hung, the opening reception took place, and then my attention turned to a long list of interview questions provided by Chardel. Early one morning I sat down at my desk and began the arduous task of writing responses. A first draft was generated, reviewed, revised, and then given to my personal editor (aka Howard), who worked his magic, crossing some sentences out, offering suggestions in different areas, then back to my computer to clean up the marked up, illegible notes.
I was asked to provide photos, which led me down the rabbit hole of trying to decide which images to send. I work in several mediums, so I did lots of digging into my online photo albums, looking for photos that convey what I do. I sent too many photos to Chardel and to Lynn, the journal’s CEO and founder, for them to choose which photos to use and to get my photos formatted for their publication.
And as if by magic, Lynn and Chardel sent me a link to my Spotlight Feature. I was kind of verklempt as I read through the article where I was given such generous space, all of my words along with a series of photos were there. It is with great pleasure and delight that I share the article with you. Here is the link: Spotlight: Dayna Collins, Mixed Media Artist
If you would like to see more of Create Whimsy, they can be found here on Instagram and on Facebook
Many months ago I was invited by Becky, one of the owners of Vintage Hardware in Astoria (on the Oregon Coast), if I would consider having a show in their Pop Up Gallery. I enthusiastically replied with a great big YES. Here are some photos of why I love this store and why I said yes.
The show was scheduled for July . . . and in July, we were all in the middle of the pandemic and things were closed down and people were hunkered inside, so we crossed our fingers and rescheduled for September. By the time September rolled around, things were starting to open (with limited hours, but open nevertheless). It was time to hang the show.
We hung the show on a Friday and on Saturday was the monthly Astoria Art Walk. It was never very busy, but friends came, family came, and shoppers and art lovers stopped in. I even sold several of my book board Salvage Collages during the afternoon.
The show is up through October 4. Check in with Vintage Hardware before visiting as their hours are limited right now.
On March 23, I created a handmade journal, which I titled The Great Pause, referring, of course, to the Corona virus pandemic. Since that time, I have continued to work on the pages, gluing in more fodder, pieces of old books, and lots of scraps from my collage bins. Besides continual alterations and additions, I have been writing on the pages, in no particular order, just finding the best space to write down thoughts, quotes, poems, rants, and even daily activities during such a strange period in my life. I decided it was time to share some of the pages, calling this post Part 2. I could offer a caution that some will be offended, but it’s my journal and my feelings, so I’ll not write about why I included what I included, but just share photos of some of my pages as they continue to morph and emerge.
My latest obsession has been exploring using little bits of book linen tabs, collected from when I rip books apart. I have quite a stockpile of these colorful little remnants.
I’ve been fascinated with the small size, the jewel-toned colors, and the raggedy edges since I began ripping books apart. In 2019 when I had my Salvage Collage show at Guardino Gallery, I first experimented with using the colorful little bits:
This was one of my favorite pieces from the show and when it sold, the design idea flew out the door along with the art. Until recently, when those little linen tabs started to make themselves known to me once again. Over the past week I’ve been playing and experimenting with them every time I walked into my studio; I started thinking of the little linen remnants as stitches used to hold pieces of paper together.
In mid March, all hell started to break loose as the Corona Virus began to consume our lives in one way or another. On Monday, March 23, Governor Brown mandated a statewide stay at home order. March 23 was the day I decided to create a journal where I could record not only what was taking place around the world and in Oregon, but also for me tucked safely inside my home. What was my new life going to look like in the upcoming weeks, or perhaps months.
The first thing I did was to make a journal using an old book and then gathering lots of paper fodder. I used book pages, music, scraps from torn apart books, and pieces of random papers, post cards, and handbills from my collage stash.
Once my papers were gathered, I bound the book using waxed linen thread and began embellishing the pages with scraps and raggedy book bits. Every day I would go through my journal and add interesting pieces to several pages, put wax paper between the pages, weigh it down overnight, and then come back the next day and do it all over again to different pages. I did this process of turning the pages and adding more day after day for three weeks.
Finally, on Monday, April 13, I declared that my journal was ready, the pages prepared.
At the same time, throughout the past three weeks, I have been writing notes to myself and making lists about the pandemic: sleeping in, routines, gift of time, rhythm of the day, tooth pain, sporty sneakers, oral surgery, helpless, daily walks, fake news, megalomaniac, self care, roller coaster . . . . .
I have printed things I have read: a poignant poem, a particularly good article on adjusting to how to live during this strange time, the timeline of how our president has fumbled and mismanaged the entire pandemic since the beginning. All things I feel inspired to record, share on my pages, or use as jumping off points for processing the range of emotions I have been feeling.
For now, I’m sharing a sampling of my pages before I make any entries, do any writing, make any lists, record poems and timelines, letting the beauty of the collages and materials speak for themselves.
Did I mention when I made the first journal that I made two more at the same time!?! What was I thinking?