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.
I am off and running.
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.
In my last post, Little Paintings, I shared how I painted small oil and cold wax paintings on Arches Oil Paper by taping small squares of the paper to a large piece of newsprint or butcher paper. I briefly mentioned how I remove the tape . . . . this post is what I do with the tape that I removed.
Over the past couple of years, I have saved and collected all of the pieces of tape I have removed from the little taped down paintings. (Do you think I’m a bit compulsive? Or obsessive?)
I am always amazed by the beautiful little abstract paintings on the pieces of tape, sometimes even wishing I could paint a larger painting using the pieces of tape as inspiration. . . . and then inspiration struck. What if I used the strips of tape to create an abstract painting? I like stripes, I like color, I like abstract, and I like recycling and reuse. I started auditioning the strips of tape. Before too long, I had a pleasing arrangement and composition and I started gluing down the strips.
For my first piece, I mounted the tape pieces onto a 4×10 inch cradled panel.
And hung it in our brightly colored kitchen at the House of Color in Astoria.
By then I was smitten so I forged ahead and taped down strips of color onto four 6×6-inch cradled panels.
These four pieces have been added to my online shop and are $100 each (which includes shipping in the US).
It’s that time of year when galleries like to offer smaller pieces of art at a price point that people can purchase original art as gifts — I have always loved this idea, whether for gifts, or for personal collections. I am excited to be sending small pieces of art to my three galleries: Guardino Gallery (in Portland), Salem on the Edge (in Salem), and RiverSea Gallery (in Astoria). I thought that rather than just sharing photos of the art that I have created for these three galleries, I would first share a bit of the background in creating these pieces.
When I teach my Oil and Cold Wax Abstracted Landscapes class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, we do warm ups throughout the week using Arches Oil Paper, which we tape (using painter’s tape) onto large sheets of butcher paper or newsprint. I give verbal prompts for things to do on these small squares of oil paper and while giving these prompts, I also follow along and do the prompts on my own squares of paper. By the end of the class, we all have several completed paintings as well as several fun starts for finishing in the future. Here are some examples of the taped down pieces of paper at various stages.
This year, I took several of the sheets of taped down paper pieces, and started tackling the small squares one at a time, adding layers, marks, creating compositions, and resolving issues, working on them while they were still taped down with six paintings per sheet of paper.
Once I resolved the paintings, I removed the tape (WATCH FOR MY NEXT BLOG POST WHERE I SHARE WHAT I DID WITH THE PEELED UP TAPE!), trimmed the edges of the paper where the tape had been, and then glued the painting onto a cradled wood panel. I applied a final layer of cold wax and varnished the edges. By the time I had completed this process, I had 26 paintings, six were 5×5 inches, and the rest were 6×6 inches.
Fast forward to today. All of the pieces have been waxed, buffed, varnished, wired, titled, photographed, inventoried, and boxed. Deliveries will begin happening over the next couple of weeks. Whew. Here are some of the completed pieces heading to my three galleries.
In addition to the 21 pieces headed to the galleries, priced at $100 each, I have five of the 5×5 inch pieces available on my website. The 5×5 inch pieces are $70 (and include shipping).
NOTE: The beautiful graphic painting at the beginning of this post, was created by Salem artist, Sloy Nichols.
We spent the last two weeks of September in Brooklyn, New York, so of course I logged our trip with a Salvage Collage junk journal.
I didn’t make my own journal, but used one created by my friend Laurie at Black Dog Studio. It came with a nice variety of papers, including some heavy watercolor paper, so I was able to adhere all kinds of papers, post cards, street fliers, and whatever paper materials I could scrounge. It was a bit more challenging on this trip because during a pandemic, there isn’t as much print material as usual. But being the scrounger and junker that I am, I managed to cobble together a pretty interesting journal.
We rented a tiny Airbnb apartment in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. I set up my make do studio on a tiny desk in the corner of the tiny bedroom with a nice view of the fire escape and the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
I hunted and gathered each day, my piles of possible fodder growing and expanding, and I used the bed as a place to sort.
Every night after a day of exploring Brooklyn (or Manhattan), I returned to our apartment, where I cut and pasted the scraps I gathered during the day, into my journal. The journal began to take on a life of its own. I didn’t keep a chronological travelogue, or even write about our days. I just ripped, cut, and glued, creating a collaged journal with visual reminders of our first big trip in three years.
On our return trip, we turned a two hour layover in San Francisco into a three day layover (so I could see the Joan Mitchell exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). My travel journal just kept growing, setting up my studio on the desk in the corner of our hotel room.
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.
Some of the work created during the week. . . . .
My heart is full and I am feeling grateful.
A week ago, I announced in my newsletter that I was giving up my studio at Studios at the Mill.
I wrote an extensive history about my studio space on my blog in August of 2020, and I’ve included a link in case you want to know more about my tenure at the studios. In a nutshell, I was one of the original members of the studios seven years ago. Interestingly, this was what I wrote in that 2020 post:
I love how sparse it is right now and full of possibilities. I have absolutely no idea how I will use my refurbished, refreshed, and quiet space. Maybe for reading art books that I never seem to have time for. Maybe for journaling. Maybe for writing about ideas. Maybe I’ll bring a specific project to work on. Or bring a limited number of materials and do a collage or journal page using only what is before me. Maybe, maybe, maybe . . . .
It turns out that I used the studio once a couple of months ago when I invited a friend to join me for an afternoon of art-making. We each brought a project to work on; we pulled our tables together and had the best afternoon. That was the first and last time I used my space since August of 2020, and even then, I hadn’t used my studio since March of 2020. All my art-making supplies had been brought home early last year. I have two nice studios at my home: a painting studio upstairs and a wonderful collage and assemblage studio in my basement.
Studio A has served me well, but it was never big enough for what I needed and I never made it there to just sit and read or write or draw, as I had dreamed of doing. I realized it just wasn’t going to happen, but it took a few months for me to come to this realization.
Shortly after I gave my notice, I started removing what remained in my studio, primarily furniture. After three full days of shuffling at home, I found a place for everything. In the process, my basement studio now has an expansive work space and is more functional. My upstairs studio wasn’t too impacted, and remains a great space to paint. I don’t have any regrets about my decision, but it was bittersweet when I closed the door for the final time.
I am pleased to offer an article written by guest Howard Collins. Howard is my spouse of 49 years and for the past year, the business manager for my art practice. Howard is my number one fan and his taste in art has evolved through the years, which prompted him to write this article for my blog.
“Ugh.” “I don’t get it.” “That’s weird.” “What’s the point?”
These words have admittedly come from me about abstract art.
My gradual transformation into appreciating and loving abstract works has taken time. Unlike the acquired taste for kombucha, which took real effort and perseverance, coming to love abstract art was more evolutionary than effort.
My early years of art appreciation was not as a result of education. It was more akin to “Me like, pretty,” when I saw something that caught my eye. But art has always been important to me regardless of my ignorance. My eye was attracted to precision, to realism, to clarity, and realistic portraits. In walking through museums, I was attracted to and spent as much time as I could looking at the details by various master artists. I always gave a short glance at modern, contemporary, and abstract art, but never much time and clearly little thought.
However, I subtly found myself spending more time looking at impressionist art and less realistic works. Monet blew me away. Here was realism without precision and detail, but beautiful nonetheless. This was a style of art without precision, but collectively, the strokes created beautiful compositions. My eyes began to look at the art of other impressionists and marvel at their beauty. Without warning I began to spend even more time looking at non representational art. My world of art appreciation exploded.
Dayna’s taste in art has always differed from mine. I began to look closer at pieces and artists to whom she was attracted. It stretched me to look at works that I previously would only glance at and rarely see. Vertical and horizontal colorful lines, unusual compositions, and figures in ways that had usually left me cold, now drew me in.
Modern art, cubism, angles, distorted figures all called me to view them in a way I had not felt before. I found Pollock, Kandinski and de Kooning, and a renewed interest in Picasso.
And therein lies the difference for me. I felt the art. An emotional response rather than mere appreciation of the art. Feeling what the piece was sharing with me, allowing the piece to talk to me. This was a moving experience and was totally unlike viewing realistic works. As strange as it sounds, listening as a piece talks to you is quite normal. Explaining how this works for me is difficult, but it is real. For me works of art talk to me through their composition, arrangement, color and form, which cause an emotional response in me.
My eye views abstract art and its perceived disorganization in different ways. At times I seek to make sense of the abstract lines, shadows and colors by seeing what I can see. At times I take in the whole of the abstract and free myself from my realism tendency; and then at other times, I pick a small portion to see what I can see and hear from the art. If I bring an attitude of openness, it allows the painting to express itself and for my eyes, brain, and emotions to react.
I have to interject a side story here. We recently talked to the maintenance engineer at The Dundee Hotel. I told him Dayna was the artist of many of the works hanging there and his eyes lit up. “Did you do the pieces in the conference room?” he asked Dayna. “Yes,” was her reply and he said: “I have questions for you. I’ve studied them.” We walked to the three painting and he wanted to know if the images he saw in them were intentional. He saw birds, a cow, and other animals throughout her works. Dayna laughed and said “Don’t show me, I’ll never be able to not see them.”
He was astounded to hear that Dayna had not intentionally included farm animals in her abstracts. He was trying to make sense of the abstract work though his interpretation of what he saw. By the way, he loved the works and his appreciation came from their composition and his interpretation, and not by the intention of the artist.
In my wasted youth, I thought Picasso was odd, irrelevant, and not really worth looking at. Even today not all of his pieces move me, but many do in a way I would never have thought possible. His humor is outstanding. I stood before a Picasso series created during the last months of WWII and I was laughing. They were optimistic, playful, joyful and irreverent. Yes, I was the only one laughing, but that’s me. They were simply magnificent.
Then there is the power of abstract. There is power in the stroke, texture, form, composition, and message. With or without a representational image, abstract work speaks and conveys a message. In part, the power comes from eliminating a common scene or picture for our minds to see. We are engaged to interact with the artists’ work. Just as letting our children play in a dusty pile of dirt, they create games, form roads, and valleys in their minds, which they translate into the dirt pile; just as we get to create from abstract art.
Amazingly, the power of abstract art endures beyond a single viewing but continues over time and changes as we see different elements as we change. A piece of Dayna’s work, Singed by Fire and Light, hung in my office for three years until I moved my office home. Every day this piece spoke to me, every day it gave me something. Sometimes it spoke to me as a whole, drawing me deep inside; sometimes from a small section, sometimes from hints of color revealed from the sunlight pouring in the window. I miss this piece terribly. It now hangs beautifully at The Dundee Hotel, where I am writing this piece and I’ve literally hugged it.
I still appreciate and enjoy realism and impressionism. But abstract art, with a big thank you to my wife, attracts me, speaks to me and fills me.
Artists Dayna admires:
Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Elaine deKooning, Cy Twombly, Robert Motherwell, Robert Diebenkorn
Artists I admire:
Mark Rothko, Willem deKooning , Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Kandinski, Dayna Collins
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:
one of the bravest things
you can do
is boldly embrace the unknown,
accept your fear,
and continue to move forward
a clear mission
does not always have a clear path
I love painting and I love sharing my process and I got to do both yesterday at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria, Oregon (on the northern Oregon coast). I set up my big table, unloaded way too many supplies (is it possible to have too many supplies? we know the answer is no), and by 3:00 a small group of people had gathered to watch me mix up my concoctions and begin sharing techniques on how to apply (and remove) paint.
It was a messy paint fest (messy for me, not for the watchers). I answered questions, added swaths of paint, showed techniques, and got a lot of paint spread in the span of two hours. And I got to paint next to my good friend Stephanie Brockway’s fantastic art watching over me.
I posted four videos on my Instagram feed (DaynaLovesArt) and several people asked questions about what materials I was using. So (tada) I have put together a list of some of the things I used in my demo with some links to where you can find them. It was great how interested and engaged everyone was, both those who attended my demo and my friends on Instagram.
Materials I used for my July 16 demo at RiverSea Gallery. Please note that I am sharing what I used, and there are other brands available. I am also sharing links to these products on Dick Blick, again, lots of art stores carry these products (and I buy most of my materials from our local art store, Art Department, in Salem, Oregon), but for ease of getting information, I am primarily using Dick Blick’s online store.
Cold Wax Medium BOOK (also available on Amazon)
Putty and palette knives. Putty knives from the hardware store are great, palette knives from art stores. But I will say, hardware stores are the best art stores!!
For texture making tools, I scrounge through my kitchen drawers and the garage, and also walk down the aisles of hardware stores for tools and materials that make great texture.
Oil paints. I use a variety of brands. I am partial to Gamblin because they make quality paints (are they are a local Portland company). In general, I look for colors I like, and for paint that is on sale. Some of the brands I use besides Gamblin are: M. Graham, Richeson, and Holbein.
Here are some of the starts from my demos:
And while I have your attention . . . .
If you want the full oil and cold wax experience, I will be teaching September 6-9, 2021, at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology (on the Oregon Coast). I just checked and there are still a few spots available. We will spend four days together in a beautiful studio nestled in the woods of Cascade Head spreading paint, learning techniques, laughing, talking about art, and creating colorful abstracted landscapes.