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.
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.
A rare glimpse of me in my basement lair*, where I store all of my scavenged paper, vintage scrapbooks, ephemera, photographs, book scraps, old books, and book boards, and where I work on my Salvage Collages.
Lately, I have been on a Salvage Collage toot, and I work on collages in three ways:
♦ In a vintage scrapbook/journal/notebook devoted to experimenting with collage ideas.
♦ In my 2021 journal, which is a combination of collage, paint, photos, etc. Anything goes.
♦ On discarded book boards to create official Salvage Collages, which are for sale.
So join me for a whirlwind tour of the lady in the basement.
Here are a few photos of my scrapbook journal where I experiment with ideas for collages and create just for me. The journal itself was used as a scrapbook/workbook for someone in the Department of Marine Engineering and Naval Construction (1905) and the pages are filled with notes, drawings, assignments (with corrections and grading), and mimeographed training papers. I pulled out most of the glued in papers, but bits of residue are still present.
Next up is my 2021 journal. It is usually a paint journal, but this year I decided to create a junk journal, a journal I made using found papers to create three signatures, which I then sewed into a book where I had pulled out all of the book pages. This is a work in progress and I just started adding collage and paint at the beginning of the new year.
Finally, my ongoing Salvage Collages, always in some level of process, always spread out on the table; my washer and dryer are across from my work tables, making it convenient to throw in a load of laundry, then spin around and start puttering and auditioning scraps of papers, book pieces, or black and white photographs. During these work sessions, I usually find myself working on all three: Salvage Collages on book boards, my 2021 Journal, and my experimental vintage scrapbook/journal.
I am always trying to move my Salvage Collages in different directions, pushing what I have already done, finding new ways to use my materials. Recently, four friends gifted me lots of wonderful papers, ephemera, and photographs, and these new materials have been informing my latest work. (A special thank you to Sam, Bonnie, Jami, and Mavis for your generosity and interesting papers and photos.) Here is a selection from my most recent Salvage Collages.
Several of these new pieces are available at Salem on the Edge and others are available directly through me.
*It is also where I store all of my metal, wood, found objects, crazy collections, and miscellaneous stuff that defies classification. But today’s focus is on collage materials.
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
I have two pieces in the current Day of the Dead show at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria (on the Oregon Coast) and I want to share a bit about how the pieces were created. But first, the show. Tabor Porter is the curator and he invited his friends to participate. It is a small and intimate show in the Alcove of the gallery. Here is how Tabor describes the show:
The Day of the Dead reminds us to live our lives to the fullest; because death is always an integral, ever-present part of life. The present day Pandemic poignantly reminds us of that. So as we commemorate the death of our loved ones in celebration, we remind ourselves and others how important their lives were. In doing so we remind ourselves how important ours can be. This group of artists that I consider my friends endeavor to show us their relationship with this day of mourning and celebration.
The two pieces I created for the show are 4 inches wide and 48 inches tall, making them difficult to photograph. But here goes:
If you are interested in seeing the Day of the Dead show at RiverSea Gallery, the show will be up through November 10, 2020.
Now for the back story. I’ve been collecting random papers and ephemera for years and in more recent years, I have become an urban scavenger, pulling posters and fliers from telephone phones and buildings. As I was thinking ahead to Day of the Dead, I knew I wanted to incorporate some graffiti posters into my pieces, so as the pandemic put the state in lock down, Howard and I masked up and ventured to Portland in search of old, weathered, beat up, out-of-date fliers. The streets were empty and we were able to scavenge lots of fodder.
Let me tell you this about being an urban scavenger: you need gloves, tools to pull the bunched up posters from the telephone pole, and even if there isn’t a pandemic, you might want to wear a mask. The material is sometimes wet (don’t pull the posters from the bottom of the pole because sometimes it is a bit yellow, if you know what I mean), stinky with creosote, and buggy. So when we got all of the papers home, I aired them out in the garage and outside for several weeks.
Then once the paper was dryish and aired out, I had to handle every single piece to pull out all of the staples and nails. Again, gloves are a must.
Once the processing was complete, I sorted and loosely organized the materials into bins and boxes.
I used the pieces and scraps to create my two pieces for the DOTD show at RiverSea Gallery.
I have also used the scavenged posters and fliers in other ways; both for under layers in mixed media pieces as well as on book boards for my Salvage Collages.
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.