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 too many flippin’ journals all going at once, so what am I thinking starting another one. I am a sucker for journals. At the current time I am actively working in several. Follow me . . . .
Color Journal: A place to keep track of colors I like, the brands of colors because not all colors are the same, what happens when certain colors are mixed together, formulas of colors I like, and the Pantone color of the year (this year it is Very Peri).
A small painting journal where I have combined paintings with art quotes on the opposite page. This has been in process for the past couple of years.
A vintage book where I wipe off excess paint from my palette, clean off my brushes on the pages, glue in leftover tidbits, and experiment with quick ideas that pop into my head.
Visual Journal: This 9×12 inch journal is my hard-working jack of all trades journal. I take notes in it when I take a class, record ideas for a painting or a show, sketch out ideas, and take notes at art meetings. This is my official visual journal and has been a key part of my art practice for many years. The journals are lined up in my studio with little tags indicating the dates covered in each journal.
Collage Journal: An old composition book where a student kept notes and did engineering types of drawing, and also glued in tests and notes. I use this journal to create collage compositions right over the writing and drawings. The glued in papers I have torn out, but gluey residue peeks through on many of the pages.
Junk Journal: I created this big chunky book out of hundreds of pieces of old papers, collage materials, and ephemera, and created three signatures (or was it four? the journal is thick). The junk part was my use of junky papers, but then I have gone back in and embellished the pages, fleshing out more complete collage compositions. I have been working on this one for months!
Covid Journal: When Covid hit in full force in early 2020, I took one of the junk journals I had made and recorded milestones and statistics for the first full year of our lockdown. Every once in a while I will go back in make a note or update the statistics. Sadly, I am entering the third year of entries.
Travel Journal: Anytime we take a biggish trip, I maintain a travel journal. My most recent travel journal was done in September when we spent a couple of weeks in New York. I used a handmade artist journal and cut and glued paper and ephemera from our daily excursions.
Which brings me to January, 2022, and the decision to what I plan to do regarding a journal in the new year. In 2019 I committed to painting a painting a day in a 9×9 inch journal and somehow I pulled it off. Sometimes I was playing catch up, but for the most part keeping that painting journal got me into my studio. Every. Single.Day. (And it took seven journals to get through the year.)
A few of my favorite paintings from my 2019 journals:
In deciding what kind of journal would be most enjoyable, I flashed back to 2012 when I used “The Open Daybook,” a perpetual calendar book, edited by David P. Earle. I remember buying this big book of a journal at Monograph Bookwerks (fine art books, objects, + ephemera), located in NE Portland, and I was so excited to use it to record what I did every day for a year. Each page has original art by 365 artists (actually 371 as some worked in groups), so the imagery and graphics were always a treat.
A few of my pages from 2012. My entries were short and sweet, but really captured in detail how I spent my days.
That year of record keeping got me to thinking about what kind of journal I would keep now, ten years later. I keep a lot of visual journals (obviously, from the list above), and I have a calendar on my desk. But what if I kept my own sort of Daybook, a cross between what I did today, but coupled with a sprinkling of collage, dabs of paint, imagery, ideas, quotes, and what is on my mind (now there’s a scary thought). I liked the sound of this combination and I just happened to have the right journal for the job (cue the dramatic music), a chunky beast of a journal, built by Leather Village craftspeople.
I wrote a private preamble on New Year’s Eve, then jumped in on January 1st.
We laugh and we laugh and there is nothing else like it in the world.
A beautiful opportunity presented itself last June and after giving it some deep thought, I accepted a commission to create a painting in honor of a loved one who had passed. My collector (and friend) knew she wanted the piece to include collage and paint, but was open to how I would incorporate the two. We met at my house a couple of times to look through photos, passports, music, and ephemera, which all represented an interesting and rich life. I got a better idea of what she was thinking and proposed that I include words throughout the process, along with an initial layer of collage. It was agreed that the words and collage would imbue the piece with the spirit of this person, but the next layers would be an abstract landscape to reflect the color and vibrancy of a life lost too soon.
After I had a chance to go through the stacks of materials, we met again to make a few more decisions, giving me clarity of which original documents I would use to energize the painting. I decided I would create two paintings alongside each other so my collector would have a choice between which piece resonated with her the most. I chose to work on cradled panels: 24×36 inches and 30×40 inches.
Over several months, the two boards were painted, writing added, a second layer of paint, bigger and bolder words added, and then a complete layer of collage, with just snippets of the underlying words peeking through.
The process of alternating layers of acrylic paint with words continued, and eventually I began to focus on the composition, moving toward an abstracted landscape. I was pleased, but not satisfied, so in a fit of knowing I wasn’t finished, I took both boards to the back yard and using an electric sander, sanded the surface of both paintings, revealing the various layers as I sanded. Snippets of words, paint, and even some of the earlier layers of collage were revealed.
It was around this time I decided I would switch mediums and move to applying layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. The vibrancy of oil and cold wax and the rich luminosity of the materials seemed like the right choice. I took the smaller of the two boards with me to Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in early September, where I was teaching a four-day workshop in oil and cold wax. I taught during the day, and then when the students went home for the night, I went into the studio and worked on the 24×36 inch piece, building layers of oil and cold wax.
When I got home, I continued to work on “Trying So Hard to Listen,” with more layers of oil and cold wax.
I completed the 24×36 inch piece on October 4, 2021, and titled it “Trying So Hard to Listen.”
I had also started to add layers of oil and cold wax to the larger piece, “On My Journey Home.”
The larger piece, 30×40 inches, was completed on my birthday, October 14, and I titled it “On My Journey Home.”
My wonderful friend and collector decided she wanted both of the paintings and in mid December, the paintings were delivered and hung. It was such an honor to see them hanging, knowing that they each had multiple layers of images, words, and paint and reflected emotional energy, love, and memories of a life well lived.
A journey of discovering that I love people, I love myself, I love my secrets.
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
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.
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!