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.
Finally, our long overdue and postponed group show, Traces, is now on view at the Salem Art Association Annex Gallery. During the two-year wait for things to reopen and get our show rescheduled, we changed our name from the Salem Art group to the Band of Artists Collective, but we’re the same group of talented artists. We’ve been plotting and planning for this show over the past few months, and got together in February to make final preparations (and take a very serious group photo).
The title of our show Traces, could be interpreted however we chose, but our group show statement explains it in more detail:
Like messages to the future and from the past, the traces of nine different paths converge here in the Annex Gallery this spring. As mark makers of varying sorts, these nine artists of the Band of Artists Collective use the indications of their existence as persons in their art work. An interest in superimposing experience, idea, image, and color onto canvas, paper, wood, and fabric is the shared language of any group of artists, this group included.
Artists understand the term palimpsest as way of reusing materials and ideas, of scraping an older work away while leaving a trace behind, a shadow, a nuance of an earlier idea. As women, as artists, as gardeners…as daughters and mothers and friends, we find the trace of others stamped on our minds just as we leave a shadow behind.
Although there is always a narrative somewhere buried in an artwork, it is less necessary to know each individual story than to sense the traces that appear in the work. Bring your own eyes to the work displayed here, perhaps finding a trace of communication.
Earlier this week, art work was dropped off. The day I dropped off my work, Kay was dropping off her pieces and Robin was busily hanging Katy’s work, while Kathy was trying to keep track of all of the final details.
Fast forward to Thursday. I was out for my weekly walk with Joni, and we decided to swing by the Art Annex to see the show. It was so nice to walk into the space and have it to ourselves. It’s a stunning show.
The work for each of the nine artists:
Salem Art Association prepared a beautiful color brochure, which includes a photo of everyone’s work along with individual artist statements.
Here is what I wrote for my Artist Statement – even before I had created my body of work.
Mixed media is often a wild goose chase down a twisted rabbit hole. It involves a series of what if questions and actions. What if I glued this down, drew a line over the top, added some paint, glued something else down, and then took a sander to it to reveal the first layer of collage, added more paint, then glued something else down, wrote with a wax crayon, then started over?
It is all a grand experimental mystery, which somehow all comes together one way or another. This project fits perfectly with my 2022 word of the year: RISK. I am taking a risk working in a new way, one I have been intrigued with for several years but somehow fear held me back: How can I cover a beautiful collage with paint? And yet covering it, excavating, concealing, and revealing is what I love doing and something I do in paint all the time.
Creating my mixed media pieces is a messy affair, a wild cacophony of cutting, tearing, drawing, gluing, painting, writing, scraping, sanding, layering, revealing, and varnishing. My pieces reflect my curiosity, playfulness, irreverence, and my love of texture, history, and a touch of surprise.
The opening reception was held tonight, it was a marvelous gathering of artists, art lovers, friends, family, and supporters.
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 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.
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?
I was the featured artist at our recent quarterly Open Studios at the Mill, held on February 13. My show focused on a series of revamped and new Salvage Collages as well as some acrylic paintings done on book board covers, utilizing my materials in a new way. I worked on pieces feverishly right up until it was time to get the show hung.
Artist Statement about my Salvage Collages:
Dayna Collins has always loved old books. She hyperventilates at the sight of books which are stained, defaced, torn or marked up. She rips battered books apart, reclaiming their faded fragments, and creates collages using only materials she has excavated. Dayna’s mixed media pieces reflect the passage of time, repurposing the scraps that are worn and weathered, transforming the aged and tattered pieces into something unexpected and beautiful, celebrating their fragile decay.
My husband hung my show in two stages, and it turns out he has quite a knack for curating and hanging.
The end result was quite nice.
Some of the pieces in the show:
And some of the paintings on book boards:
Many thanks to those who stopped in to say hello, and to Luis Noriega for attending our Open Studios and interviewing some of our artists for his podcast: Down the Rabbit Hole DTRH Podcast
Head’s Up: Next opportunity to see my Salvage Collages will be at a Pop – Up in July in Astoria, Oregon!
I’m pleased to share that I currently have an exhibition of my Salvage Collages at Willamette University’s Hatfield Library. My show, Salvage Collage: A Sort of Magic, is on view through January 20, 2020. It is always a thrill to show at the library, where I used to work 20 years ago.
Leading up to my exhibition, I was feverishly creating new work and revamping some old pieces to give them new life.
On the day of hanging, I used book carts to get my boxes and suitcases to the second floor of the Hatfield Library.
Then I spread everything out and began the process of stacking books in the cases and auditioning where to put the assorted Salvage Collages.
After a couple of hours, my work was complete.
The public is welcome to visit the library (and my exhibit) during library hours.The best place to park is on State Street, where there is metered parking (Willamette is located right across the street from the State Capitol). While you are at the library, check out the Pacific Northwest Artists Archives, which is right next to the two cases where my exhibition is. There is also some great art on the first and second floors by regional artists.