TRACES: My Personal Work

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.

“An Underwater Dream,” 12×12 inches, acrylic with cold wax, by Dayna Collins.

“A Still Pond on a Humid Day,” 12×12 inches, acrylic with cold wax, by Dayna Collins.

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.

“When Possibilities Seem Endless,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“This Big Life,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“Secret Confessions,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“Robust Vulnerability,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“Nervous Curiosity,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“Luminous Vulnerability,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“In the Presence of Mystery,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“Dance of Distraction,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“Blurred Boundaries,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“A Lending Library of Wonders,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“A Deeper Sense of Belonging,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

“A Chorus of Memory,” 12×12 inches, acrylic and collage on flat birch board, mounted on a block, by Dayna Collins.

Traces opens tonight . . . . next up, my blog about the show.

A New Gallery For Me!

I’m delighted to share the news that my art is in a new gallery (and in a new state). I was invited by the owner of Fogue Gallery, Kerry Gates, to display my art at this lovely Georgetown gallery, located about four miles south of downtown Seattle. Georgetown is a lively and funky neighborhood, with several art galleries, numerous restaurants, eclectic shops, and the Georgetown Trailer Mall.

Last month, Howard and I made the drive north to the gallery to hang my art on a beautiful, freshly painted white wall, where we hung five of my oil and cold wax paintings.

The second Saturday of every month is Georgetown’s Art Attack, so we got a room at the Georgetown Inn and attended our first art walk. What a blast!

I got to see my friend Kathleen, who has been a longtime artist at the gallery, and she was gracious enough to introduce me to several of the other artists showing their work in the gallery.

Our oldest daughter lives in Tacoma and she drove up to show her support and cheer me on.

What an evening.

A tiny peek at Georgetown in case you’ve never been . . .

And my biggest thanks goes to my husband, Howard, who does ALL of the behind the scenes work like wiring, inventory, cataloging, schlepping, hanging, adjusting lights, and color coordinating his clothes to match my art.

The next Georgetown Art Attack is Saturday, March 12. I’ll be there, so stop by and say hello.

New Year, New Journal

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:

Day 35

Day 224

Day 294

Day 239

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.

On My Journey Home

“On My Journey Home,” 30×40 inches, mixed media (acrylic, collage, oil, and cold wax).

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.

All sanded and ready for oil and cold wax to be applied.

Sanding in process. Gulp.

Collage, acrylic paint, and words sanded back to reveal earlier layers.

Collage, acrylic paint, and writing, sanded back to reveal earlier layers.

Layers, layers, layers. Sanded back reveal some of those layers.

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.

“Trying So Hard to Listen,” after converting to oil and cold wax while at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.

Working on “Trying So Hard to Listen” while at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon Coast.

“Trying So Hard to Listen,” after converting to 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.

“Trying So Hard to Listen” in process after converting to oil and cold wax.

I completed the 24×36 inch piece on October 4, 2021, and titled it “Trying So Hard to Listen.”

“Trying So Hard to Listen,” 24×36 inches, mixed media (acrylic, collage, oil, and cold wax).

I had also started to add layers of oil and cold wax to the larger piece, “On My Journey Home.”

Early layers of oil and cold wax, “On My Journey Home.”

“On My Journey Home,” in progress.

Adding texture to “On My Journey Home.”

Work in progress.

Refining “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.”

“On My Journey Home,” 30×40 inches, mixed media (acrylic, collage, oil, and cold wax).

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.

“On My Journey Home,” in its place of honor above the fireplace.

“Trying So Hard to Listen,” in its bright, beautiful space.

A journey of discovering that I love people, I love myself, I love my secrets.

Painter’s Tape Abstract Art

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.

Removing tape from Arches Oil Paper.

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.

“Profound Harmony,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax on white painter’s tape, mounted to cradled wood panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Deep Knowledge,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax on blue painter’s tape, mounted on cradled wood panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Changing Emotions” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax on white painters tape, mounted on cradled wood panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Small Curiosities,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax on white painter’s tape, mounted on cradled wood panel, by Dayna Collins.

These four pieces have been added to my online shop and are $100 each (which includes shipping in the US).

 

Little Paintings

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.

“The Blur of Memories,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Smoldering Silence,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Reflecting Sunlight,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Out of the Silence,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Happy Silence of Mind,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“In the Silence of the Evening,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Fearless Love,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Coastal Riptides,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“A New State of Wonder,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Untethered in Space,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Along the Tideline,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Stirrings of Enchantment,” 6×6 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

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).

“Currents of Cool Wind,” 5×5 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“A Place of Peace,” 5×5 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“A Field of Peace,” 5×5 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“A Thin Fog of Moonlight,” 5×5 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins.

“Fistfuls of Sky,” 5×5 inches, oil and cold wax, on cradled panel, by Dayna Collins

 

NOTE: The beautiful graphic painting at the beginning of this post, was created by Salem artist, Sloy Nichols.

Brooklyn Travel Journal

 

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.

 

Colorful and Dynamic Abstracted Landscapes

 

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.

Ready for class to start on Monday morning.

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.

Howard helping clean up the studio.

The studio all set up and filled with so much promise.

Prepping for demos.

Waking up on Monday morning in my little cabin in the woods.

So good to be back.

A brand new gallon of Gamblin’s Cold Wax and a fresh pair of gloves. Yes, please.

Little scraps of paper as inspiration for colors, design, or just to jump start our imaginations.

Early morning in the studio!

The book of knowledge. haha

Tam brought me flowers to match my hair.

Warm up exercise on Arches Oil Paper.

First day demo.

Doing a demo using plaster (an added bonus).

Plaster demo was an added bonus, sharing how to seal the dried and sanded plaster.

Working, strolling, getting started for the day.

Karla creates beautiful palettes.

Working.

Loretta establishing her color palette for the day.

Loretta’s palette. I wonder why I love this so much.

It was a busy, active studio.

Margaret fell in love with this wonky old roller.

Karla at work.

Margaret’s beautiful workspace.

Heidi working fearlessly.

Tam and Louise working through ideas.

The evening glow at the end of a day of painting.

Heidi getting the hang of making beautiful marks.

A vibrant and inspiring palette!

Louise created two dynamic pieces.

Lynn sharing her work.

Tam is a “wicked” painter.

Work in progress by Loretta.

Work in progress by Karla.

Lunch table centerpiece.

Paintings drying outside in the fresh air.

So many works in progress and the beautiful hum of activity.

Early layers by Loretta. Yum.

One of Karla’s color studies.

Heidi playing with drips.

Working.

Work in progress by Lynn.

I love working in the studio after class . . . .

A working studio.

Work in progress by Louise.

Lynn experimenting with drips.

Lynn and Dayna!

Jenn working on Arches Oil Paper.

Tam playing with Transparent Orange glazes. Kapow.

Loretta spreading paint!

Louise scraping off sections of paint.

Getting ready for the day.

Doing a demo on mounting Arches Oil Paper to a cradled birch panel.

Group photo on a beautiful September afternoon.

Thank you to R&F Handmade Paints for donating pigment sticks and allowing everyone to go home with different colors.

Show and tell.

Karla discusses some of her work on our final afternoon.

Margaret discusses some of her completed work.

Lynn discusses her work on our final afternoon.

Nancy does whatever is necessary to get the good shot.

Heidi discusses her work.

Loretta discusses her work.

Tam discusses her work.

Show and tell walkabout.

Some of the work created during the week. . . . .

Art by Louise.

Work by Jenn.

Work by Heidi.

Works in progress by Louise.

Work by Karla.

Work by Margaret.

Section from larger work by Loretta.

Work by Tam.

Work by Lynn.

Work by Heidi.

Work by Louise.

Work by Margaret.

Work by Loretta.

Work by Heidi.

Work in progress by Lynn.

Work by Tam.

Work by Karla.

Work by Jenn.

Work by Lynn.

Work by Margaret.

Work by Tam.

Work by Loretta.

Work by Jenn.

Work by Karla.

Work by Louise.

Ahhhh . . . and they were delicious.

My heart is full and I am feeling grateful.

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Studio A

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.

 

Guest Article: Abstract Art and How I Got There

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.

Howard is an active participant in Dayna’s art practice, doing everything from administrative to schlepping.

“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.

Howard checking out Dayna’s January, 2021 show, “Emotional Alignments” at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria, Oregon.

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.

“Turns of the Kaleidoscope,” 30×40 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax. One of Howard’s favorite pieces.

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.

Howard spending time with six 12×12 pieces in Dayna’s “Turns of the Kaleidoscope” show at Salem on the Edge, May, 2021.

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.

One of Howard’s favorites: “It Smelled Like the End of Summer,” 30×40 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax, now hanging at The Independence Hotel.

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.”

Jim points out what he sees in three of Dayna’s abstract paintings, now hanging in the Board Room of the Dundee Hotel.

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.

One of Howard’s favorites: “Fleeting Amazement,” 24×36 inches, acrylic on canvas, hanging at The Dundee Hotel.

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.

Howard hugs “Singed by Fire and Light,” now hanging in The Dundee Hotel.

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

One of Dayna’s favorite artists: Helen Frankenthaler

Artists I admire:

Mark Rothko, Willem deKooning , Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Kandinski, Dayna Collins

Dayna and Howard at the opening of Dayna’s show at Salem on the Edge in May, 2021, “Turns of the Kaleidoscope.”

 

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