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.
My January newsletter went out this week and in it I shared about my participation in the 2023 Salem Readsprogram. This community-wide reading event has been sponsored by the Salem Public Library Foundation since 2017. I was one of the original artists, and although I have been invited to participate each year since, I didn’t jump on the opportunity. . . .until this year. The chosen book is Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.
Invited artists were instructed to read the book and then create a piece of art in response. I listened to the book on Audible, which was read by Trevor; I loved hearing Trevor’s accent and his inflections, making for an enjoyable and humorous experience. The book was presented as a series of short stories, focusing on different eras of his life as a child and young man. The book was heartwarming, funny, tragic, tender, and ultimately a story of redemption as Trevor rose above his tough circumstances.
I was aware of apartheid and knew a little about it, but Trevor’s stories brought it alive through his eyes of a child growing up during the extreme segregation of whites and blacks.
In my artist statement, I was able to share what led me to create what I did for this exhibit.
As I read ‘Born a Crime,’ so many images swirled in my mind. Trevor was born to a black mother and a white father during the extreme racial segregation of South African apartheid. Despite their circumstances, Trevor’s mother demonstrated feistiness, determination, and perseverance. As Trevor matured, he exhibited many of the characteristics of his mother, carving out a life filled with humor, music, inventiveness, and friendship. Before I began my painting in response to ‘Born a Crime,’ I wrote out the text from the Immorality Act of 1927 across the surface of my board, reminding me of the laws in place when Trevor was conceived and born. I painted this piece with the idea of a young man rising out of the darkness of apartheid, which I translated into colors. I filled the niche with objects representing Trevor’s creativity, spirit, and abundance despite his circumstances.
The piece I created is 16×16 inches square and three inches deep, with a 5×5 inch niche filled with charms and small trinkets. I attached these small items using string, which I tacked to the top of the niche using vintage, colorful thumb tacks.
The 2023 show runs from February 1-25, and will be held in the Art Hall at the Salem Public Library. At the end of February, the show will be packed up and transported to a series of regional libraries; my piece will return to Salem in June.
If you’re interested in learning more about the pieces of art created for the show, several of the participating artists (myself included), appeared on Joel Zak’s KMUZ radio show, Talking About Art, last Friday. A recording of the show can be found on the KMUZ website by going HERE. During my segment, I talked about my motivation behind the piece of art I created for the show.
Interested in signing up for my newsletter? I send it out once a month and I share what I am doing, something about my art practice, special projects, a book review and recommendation, and an art quote. Follow this link to sign up.
Somewhere during the past couple of months, I decided to revisit painting abstracted flowers. I was prompted to do this series when I was looking at paintings that weren’t working for me. That isn’t unusual, I often cover over paintings and create new compositions. But the idea of painting flowers sprang up when I decided to cover the old paintings primarily with black paint, leaving a hint of the underpainting, and creating a wonky vase of long-stemmed flowers.
I have painted flowers in a variety of iterations, and I always enjoyed what I created. These are some of the older paintings that have long since sold.
Fast forward to my current series. Many of these new paintings are 6×6 inches and were created for the Small Works show at Salem on the Edge. They proved to be popular, and most of the flower pieces sold within the first few days of the show. It was such a heartwarming affirmation of doing this new body of work. Here is a peek behind the scenes of my process:
And then photos of some of my new work:
There are a few abstracted flower paintings on my website, which you can find by clicking this LINK.
Because I loved these flowers so much, I had notecards printed so I can write thank you notes to those who purchase my paintings.
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.
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 the privilege of teaching two classes at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. The first, June 30-July 3, was in the smaller of the two studios at Sitka, Smith, and with ten students, it was the perfect space.
Because I was teaching two classes and they were back-to-back (I had the 4th of July off between the two classes), I got to stay at Morley House, which was a first for me. I loved this space!
Now to the good stuff. The class. I could babble on about it, but instead I’m going to share photos – a fraction of the photos I took, but it gives a good look into our four days of art making. The group was talented, energetic, spirited, and hard workers — and they wanted to know if they could sign up for my 2023 class on the final day!
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.
Last fall, I received the email that always thrills and humbles me: I had been selected by Donna Guardino to have a show in the Main Gallery at Guardino Gallery in June of 2022. I didn’t celebrate too long, but instead studied the schematics of the gallery, the wall spaces to be filled, pulled together a batch of boards, and got to work.
The getting to work initially meant prepping the boards for painting. I knew early on that I wanted to pair art quotes with vivid colors, so right from the beginning these elements were prominent.
After all the boards were prepped (with massive help from my studio assistant), they were ready for paint to be applied.
This part of the process required many layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. The dominant theme was layers of paint with the writing of quotes in between the layers.
After several months of work, the pieces began to take shape. Some boards got scraped, some were finished, but then I decided they weren’t finished so more layers were applied. Writing was always present, but it was in the last six weeks of working that I began applying the words more boldly on the surface of the painted surfaces, and these turned out to be my favorite pieces.
And before I knew it, it was time to stop painting. The oil and cold wax needed time to dry, cure, and set before applying a final coat of cold wax. For the month of May, the paintings were in my studio, in the hallway, and in our bathroom just resting.
Today as I put together this post, all the paintings have been moved to the main floor of our house. They are being prepared to be wrapped and loaded into a van we had to rent to transport the 44 paintings (yes, 44!) to the gallery in the morning.
The show hangs on Wednesday, May 25, and opens on Thursday, May 26, with the opening reception from 6-9 pm; the show will be up through June 26. An added bonus is you can see (and shop) all the pieces by going to Guardino Gallery’s website.
About ten years ago I discovered this 25×49 inch framed painting on canvas at a local Goodwill; I think I might have paid $25. I didn’t buy it for the painting, but as an inexpensive canvas to repurpose for my own art. The canvas got tucked away in our shed, and I forgot about it. Last year I rediscovered it and took a closer look. It was signed on the back by M. Runyan and it had been painted in 1985. I asked my artist friend Bonnie Hull, who is familiar with many artists in Salem over the years, if she knew of the artist, but the name didn’t ring a bell. So I decided I would give the painting a makeover. And as it turns out, another makeover, and then another until I was finally satisfied. For now, anyway.
I opened a big bucket of gesso and began covering erasing the six starred bottles (I kind of cringed and then cried a bit).
And then I began applying paint.
Life got busy and once again I abandoned this canvas. The bottles were gone, gesso applied, and some bands of color slapped on. Not sure where I stored the canvas, probably in the upstairs hallway, but it got tucked away until last July when I pulled it out again. This time I started adding swaths of black, green, pink, and burgundy.
It was at a stopping point and I hid it away again for many months. Until two weeks ago when we packed it into our car and drove to Astoria. I thought maybe it would look nice in our House of Color since we were in need of a piece of art above our couch.
Nope. It didn’t look good at all and I didn’t even like the painting anymore, so instead of dragging it home, I took it upstairs to my studio and painted some swaths of wild color.
It was fine, kind of fun, definitely colorful, but it lacked any kind of KAPOW, so back upstairs it went. I pulled out more paint, began spreading, scraping, and marking.
It was finally what I had wanted all along (but didn’t know what that was until it appeared). Here is the final painting and some close ups of different areas.
But guess what? I needed a big painting for Fogue Gallery in Seattle, so this finally finished pop of color piece of art will be heading north on Thursday and be on display and for sale just in time for the Georgetown Art Attack on Saturday, April 7.
And the wall above our couch is once again empty and in need of art.
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.