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 Word and Image show is one of my favorite projects and it took place last month at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita (on the Oregon coast). This event occurs biennially, and I was fortunate to have participated in 2020, so I was eager to apply for 2022. The process for the show goes like this:
Artists and writers are invited to submit samples of their work; artists submit three art images and writers submit three poems/short stories. The jury then chooses 12 artists and 12 writers. A pairing event is held where an artist’s name is pulled from a hat, then a writer’s name is pulled from a hat, and voila! those two are partners. The artist choses one of the three writing entries and creates a new piece of art in response to the words, likewise, the writer choses a piece of art from those submitted and writes a poem or short story in response. This new work is submitted electronically so beautiful broadsides can be printed and a book prepared and published.
MY PAINTING PROCESS
I chose to use an 18×28 inch cradled birch panel. I prepared it with acrylic paint, a layer of plaster, more acrylic paint to seal the plaster, and a couple layers of oil and cold wax. This was all the preparation to begin painting in response to the writer I was paired with, Simeon Dreyfuss. I chose Simeon’s poem, Walk Roots the Day as the piece I was using for my responsive painting. When the initial layers of my prepped board were completely dry, I wrote Simeon’s poem across the surface of my board.
I began adding layers of paint, looking for the poem to emerge.
After layers of paint, and scraping off a layer, I worked on this piece when I wasn’t teaching at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology– either early in the morning, or in the evening after my students had left for the day. It seemed appropriate to be painting this piece while I was at Cascade Head on the Oregon coast.
Art was delivered to the gallery, art and broadsides were hung, an online reception was held, and a beautiful book was published.
A HAPPY POSTSCRIPT
As I was working on this blog post, I took a break to welcome Paula Booth into my home. Paula is a professor of art at Western Oregon University and also curates the art at two northwest hotels, The Dundee and The Independence. I am fortunate to have art at both hotels and we had made arrangements for Paula to come to my house to view my available work to change out some of my pieces at The Independence. I had just picked up Storm Mounting from the Hoffman Center for the Arts, and so it was one of my available pieces. Paula was excited to include this painting in the group of paintings she selected.
I am frequently asked about how to work with oil paint mixed with cold wax medium, especially on Instagram (you can find my Instagram at DaynaLovesArt). When I post videos of my process, I get a lot of interest and questions. Since I recently taught two four-day workshops in oil and cold wax at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, I thought I would post a series of photos of the process. Thank you to several of my students for taking photos and generously sharing them with me.
A beautiful comment from Angela, who has taken my class several times:
It was amazing to see you obliterate a piece, reveal fabulous lower layers and ultimately create your incredible composition. Seeing you do this in class was huge? The lesson in itself was the best possible, teaching us more by showing, creating and telling us your thoughts throughout. Angela
*This demo piece went on to become this painting:
If you are interested in more information about what I’m doing, books I recommend, techniques, shows, workshops, etc., please subscribe to my monthly newsletter by clicking HERE. In my September newsletter I will be sharing about my recent Personal Art Retreat, all the work that goes into creating art behind the scenes and sharing about the book Creative Authenticity.
After my first oil and cold wax class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology concluded on July 3, the staff at Sitka lugged all of my stuff from Smith Studio up to the larger Boyden Studio. I spent the evening getting set up for my second class. I love preparing the studio for teaching.
I spent July 4th enjoying the quiet of the Sitka campus. The office was closed, and no one was around, so I wandered, rested, and puttered in the studio. On July 5th, I was ready for the artists to arrive.
Like my last post, Teaching at Sitka – Part I, I feel that photos tell the story better than any words that I cobble together. I’ve made comments on each of the photos, so it tells a bit more about the week than just sharing the photos. But I will say, this group was hardworking, productive, energetic, talented, and supportive of each other. All the ingredients for a fantastic workshop.
I have received such wonderful feedback from the artists in my class and I want to share two of the comments. Reading these inspiring and positive words make my heart swell and it is why I love teaching.
The first one from Carol:
I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a student in this class. It was amazing to meet Dayna in person, and to be present in her instruction. She provided a manual, many supplies, demos, readings, and many examples of her work in various stages. She was very engaged and provided such positive suggestions and constant energy. It was truly a great pleasure in an incredible setting. . . . I am still processing all that I learned and felt, and continue to feel so grateful. Thank you, Dayna. Terri
I had an idea for a painting I wanted in my show at Guardino Gallery. I envisioned a grid of smaller paintings hung together to create a large 40×40 inch piece of art. I decided the small paintings would be 8×8 inches. But the initial problem was how to hang 25 paintings in a manner that would allow me to work on all 25 at the same time, as if I was actually painting a 40×40-inch piece of art. My studio assistant came to the rescue. He devised a system using Velcro. He attached Velcro to the back of the 25 8×8-inch cradled panels, then matched up the other piece of Velcro to the wall, allowing all of the paintings to hang together, but could easily be removed for me to 1) paint the edges, and 2) work on each piece individually when it became time to resolve each piece as a single painting.
After I secured the 25 panels (thank you Art Department for ordering so many boards for me), they were primed with fluorescent pink and orange acrylic paint by my studio assistant. I decided to start the painting process using acrylic paint to get lots of layers of color and marks. It was such fun to paint across the surface with grand swaths of paint, and occasionally pull the panels off the wall to wrap paint around and onto the edges.
After a few layers of acrylic, I switched to oil paint mixed with cold wax, and began enhancing and adding more layers, words, and marks.
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.
It felt good to be back teaching at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Last year my workshop was cancelled due to the pandemic and I hadn’t signed up to teach this year because of the uncertainty with Covid. As cases began falling earlier this summer, Sitka’s Program Manager, Tamara, reached out to see if I would be interested in teaching a workshop in September. I jumped at the opportunity. As the workshop date approached, I watched as Covid cases once again surged. I was a little nervous about teaching, but Sitka had worked hard to provide a safe place with lots of protocols already in place. A couple weeks before my workshop, I asked Sitka to cap the class at eight students, to ensure that there would be plenty of space between tables in the studio.
I could write about the week of art-making, the learning, the techniques, the epiphanies, the experimentation, the fearlessness, the laughter, the great energy, the hard work . . . . but instead I’m going to do a photo essay, which I think captures the essence of preparation and our week together.
Last week I was finally back at Sitka in the beautiful Boyden studio, not teaching, but taking a class from Eugene artist Zoe Cohen. The class was titled Abstract Investigations: Color and Composition. What a great class in my one of my favorite locations — on the Oregon coast at Cascade Head.
Zoe’s description of the class:
This four-day workshop is designed specifically for abstract painters to help clarify visual language and bring intentionality to their painting practice. We will make a deep inquiry into what inspires our art through examining contemporary abstract art, informal writing exercises and instructor demos. We will traverse the full range of the spectrum from intuition to deliberate action, from right brain to left brain and from spontaneity to decision, and we will learn to travel back and forth between these polarities.
The class had all the elements that are important and that I love. The first day we focused on value and color mixing, always a good place to start.
The second day we focused on tools and techniques, and we were all off to the races after a couple of demos by Zoe. The day for me was dedicated to initial layers and playing around with leftover paint.
Day 3 was more layers and exploration of abstraction, intuitive versus deliberate actions. We began to look for the composition in our paintings and move our pieces forward. I worked on 10×10-inch pieces of Stonehenge printmaking paper, 12×12-inch wood panels, and 14×14-inch cradled birch panels. I liked jumping between these three substrates.
On the final day, we primarily focused on painting and completing a few pieces. It was a whirlwind of a day, especially since we had to stop a little early to pack up and have a show and tell before class concluded.
These are the pieces that I moved forward to various stages of completion; a few of them I have declared finished and the others, I’ve just stopped at interesting places.
Post script . . . . .
Each morning before heading to class, I read a section from jung pueblo’s Clarity and Connection.When I read something that resonated with me, I jotted the words down in my visual journal–the journal I took to class and where I took notes. On our final day, this was the passage I wrote in my journal:
Toward the end of March, my friend Lucy Hewitt texted me and asked if she could paint my portrait. She had been doing portraits of herself, and decided she wanted to branch out and start painting her art friends. I told her, “Of course, I’d be honored.” She wanted to schedule a time to come to my house and take some photos of me painting . . . with the caveat that she wanted me to be wearing my overalls and have curlers in my hair. Her strange request was prompted by a photo I had posted of me in my curlers on Instagram on March 16.
A date was set for photos, I washed my hair and put in my curlers. Lucy took photos of me getting ready to paint, then some action shots of me working.
Lucy had me stand in front of one of my big boards in progress – and then had me choose a pair of prop glasses she had brought along – I chose PINK!
In preparation for our photo shoot, Lucy had me write out words and phrases that describe me and my art. I was in the middle of #the100dayproject where I was creating art on scraps of brown paper bags, so I wrote my list on a scrap of bag.
Fast forward to a week ago when Lucy delivered the painting. My response was an emotional one as Lucy had captured me so wonderfully in paint. She titled the painting Color Can’t Wait. It was a gorgeous oil painting and Lucy captured every detail – from my earrings, to my bracelet, from the bright stripes of the background, to the sassiness in my stance.
On the back of the painting was a magical history of the painting, my words, and a poem that Lucy wrote (using my list of words and painted on the front of my overalls). She also shared how she likened my portrait to the Caryatids (a stone carving of a draped female figure, used as a pillar to support the entablature of a Greek or Greek-style building). And she had written the word contrapposto (an asymmetrical arrangement of the human figure in which the line of the arms and shoulders contrasts with, while balancing, those of the hips and legs).
After Lucy had explained her inspiration and process, we called Howard in to see the portrait. His reaction was priceless; he laughed, saluted, then bowed down. As it should be.
When we asked Lucy if we could purchase the painting, she graciously consented. Howard and I both love having Color Can’t Wait in our Art House and have hung it in a place of honor.