Turns of the Kaleidoscope

Yesterday I dropped off 17 new plaster, oil, and cold wax paintings at Salem on the Edge for my show Turns of the Kaleidoscope. The pieces range in size from 12×12 inches, up to 30×60 inches, all created to be hung on 48 feet of wall space! When I began working on this series, I had trouble imagining filling that long, blank wall. But I did it with one painting to spare. (If you happen to see the show during the month of May, ask Melanie to see the 36×48 inch piece, Life’s Distractions and Enticements.)

Rather than blather about creating the pieces, I’m going to share my process with a series of photos, after all, this is a post about an art show. Here we go . . . .

Sealing the board with fluorescent paint.

Bucket of mud!

Applying plaster.

I love this stage of applying plaster.

Plaster being sealed.

A brand new gallon of Gamblin’s Cold Wax.

Early layers.

Working on a 12×12 inch piece.

Active studio.

Rolling wall comes in so handy.

New trend in makeup?

Painting the edges.

Works in progress.

Paying the price.

Sweet spot.

Doing a demo on Instagram about final coat of wax. (My IG: DaynaLovesArt)

Feedback and critique from Howard.

Peeling off the tape.

Sanding the backs of the boards.

Drying in the warm, dry air.

Choosing titles.

Signing paintings.

Preparing to photograph.

Photographing paintings in the perfect outdoor light.

Arrival with paintings!

The namesake piece, “Turns of the Kaleidoscope.”

Howard carries in “Baffled Amazement,” one of three 36×48 inch pieces.

Melanie sizing things up.

The beginning of the curating process by Melanie.

Arranging and rearranging . . . .

“Where does this go?”

Happy that the pieces are at the gallery and ready to be hung.


How I Title My Paintings

I am often asked how I come up with the titles for my paintings, so I’m going to spill the beans. Whenever I’m reading a beautifully written novel, I keep a piece of paper and a pen handy to jot down portions of sentences or phrases that resonate with how the words are put together. I do the same when I am reading poetry, just taking a few of the words, or “word fragments,” and scribbling them on a scrap of paper. I keep all of my pieces of paper gathered together on a clipboard, which I then refer to when it is time to name a painting. And I get to use one of my vintage clipboards!

It is a bit of a wonky system, and takes some maneuvering, but it has worked for me for many years and I enjoy the process of looking through my scribbles and putting together new combinations of words from the word fragments on my scraps of paper.

I have painted hundreds of paintings over the years, but here is a sampling of my work and the titles I have chosen.

“A Narrow Illumination,” plaster, oil, and cold wax on cradled birch panel, by Dayna J. Collins

“According to Sylvia Plath, the tulips are subtle, they seem to float,” plaster, oil, and cold wax on cradled birch panel, by Dayna J. Collins

“A Protective Charm,” acrylic on 300 lb. watercolor paper, by Dayna J. Collins

“A Ghostly Process of Waves,” oil and cold wax on cradled birch panel, by Dayna J. Collins

“Small Bursts of Illumination,” acrylic on wood panel, mounted in floating frame, by Dayna J. Collins

“Fallen Sun,” oil and cold wax on cradled birch panel, by Dayna J. Collins


The Story of a Transformation


Sometime back in 2012 (maybe before), I received a gift from my good friend Sam Hart, one of the most creative people I know and the superstar behind (the now defunct) Lil’ Gypsy vintage shop. On occasion, Sam left me gifts at my doorstep (she still does!) and back in 2012, when I had my studio in a small house on an alley in NE Salem, Sam gifted me this mannequin. She had a few battle scars (the mannequin, not Sam), so I wrapped her in a boa and gave her a pep talk.

Circa 2012

When I later moved my studio home, she hung out with me for a while upstairs . . . .

. . . and then she got banished to the basement.

I often thought about how I wanted to give her a new life. For a brief moment I thought about adding collage to her entire self, but it never seemed quite right. Then one day a few months ago, I decided to repair some of  her more severe scarring. I put on my plastic surgery scrubs, and with a bit of duct tape and plaster, I repaired the worst of her owies.

After a light dermabrasion sanding, I gave her a clean slate: gesso, the great eraser.

She was hanging out in my studio as I was transferring acrylic paint into squeeze bottles, so as I was doing this, I started using leftover paint on her body (I really should name her).

Layer by layer, patch by patch, swath by swath, drip by drip, my lady was transformed.

She was taken to the basement and given a coat of semi-gloss varnish to protect and seal her, then I did some drip painting on the base. And today is her debut!


Now I just need to figure out where she will live.

#the100dayproject – Halfway Through

On January 31st, I jumped into the #100dayproject. This project is facilitated by Lindsay Jean Thompson and you can learn more about the project by simply clicking right HERE. If you don’t feel like clicking, here is what the project is about:

Pick something you want to do every day for the 100 days of the project. You’ll post each instance of 100 on your Instagram account with the hashtag #The100DayProject. What can you do? Anything at all! Paint, draw, dance, knit, doodle, sing, brush your teeth. Once you have an idea, here are some practical tips: Make sure you can do it in 5-10 minutes a day. More time is nice if you have it, but if it’s a really time-consuming project you probably won’t do it every day. What are you curious about? What do you love to do just because? What do you want to get better at? Brainstorm with a friend or make a list of ideas. What have other people done that you find interesting? Or maybe your project is 100 days of figuring out what to do. That’s cool! Another good place to start is by thinking about what you want to get out of doing the project.

I decided I wanted to explore working on a non precious substrate and what is more non precious than brown paper bags. I carry my own reusable bags with me, but somehow I always seem to accumulate brown paper bags that I don’t throw away (or even recycle). It might be from when I order take out, or when I purchase something that doesn’t fit into the portable cloth bag I carry in my purse. For whatever reason, I decided to tear up an abundant resource and experiment with different kinds of art on a scrap of brown craft paper.

My first post on Instagram (you can find me at DaynaLovesArt) at the beginning of the project:

I’m jumping in to #the100dayproject and the challenge I’ve set up for my 100 day project is to paint a quick abstract painting or make paint marks on a scrap of a brown paper bag every day for 100 days. I needed something quick and easy, portable for my sometimes portable life, and a way to try out new ideas: colors, composition, marks…… and to create collage fodder for my stash…….and imagine the cool jumbo collage I can make with all of the brown paper bag painted scraps. #the100dayswithdayna 1/100

Now here it is 50 days later, the halfway point. Over the past 50 days I have created in my painting studio, in my basement studio, along the Oregon Coast, in Northern California, in Gig Harbor, and in Astoria. I get around. I have also used a multitude of materials, including (disclaimer: but not limited to):  acrylic paint, Stabilo pencils, plaster, oil paint, cold wax, collage, black and white photos, book scraps, varnish, charcoal, Woody pencils, acrylic pens, and oil pastels.

I have already incorporated some of the pieces I have created in other projects, Salvage Collage on book boards, and in my 2021 journal.

In no particular order, here is a smattering of the pieces I have created on the lowly brown paper bag.

And only 50 more days to go!



Splatter Paint Extravaganza

Awhile back I purchased a large reddish metal star at a closeout sale with the intention of painting it and hanging it at our beach house in Astoria. I didn’t know what color I would paint it, but then inspiration struck. I would use ALL the colors. I had done splatter painting a year ago, when I embellished a concrete statue, and I liked how it turned out.

So I got out a tarp, all of my cheap craft paints, a water spray bottle, and put on my paint clothes. I put the star in the middle of the tarp . . . .

. . . and got started with flinging paint.

Somewhere early in the process, I remembered we had two chairs that we had spray painted last summer, but were in need of sprucing up, so I dragged out another tarp and got the two chairs out of storage. That’s when it really got fun (and very messy).

I spent the afternoon flinging paint, using up the little bottles of craft paint. Even our cat Sinatra was interested by the end of the afternoon.

Post Script: I had so much fun that afternoon, that I went upstairs and pulled out a partial painting of acrylic on a cradled wood panel and put it on the floor in my studio. Using my Nova paints in squirt bottles, and with more intention that my wild painting outside, I kind of carefully flung paint onto the painting.

When it was thoroughly dry, I took the painting to the basement and applied a layer of water-based varnish.

I must admit, I kind of love it a lot.

“A Sense of Pandemonium”
Dayna J. Collins


The Collaborative Body

I was invited to participate in The Collaborative Body in October of 2020, a really cool, socially distanced group project at the Salem Art Association Art Annex. Kathy Dinges, the Community Arts Education Director at Salem Art Association, describes the project:

The Collaborative Body is a dynamic group project in which 17 artists collaborated to transform the Salem Art Association’s Annex! The project is loosely based on various ideas in the surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, in which players would take turns drawing a portion of a body (head, torso, legs) on paper. The previous artist’s contribution was folded over and hidden until the end, when the paper was unfolded to reveal the “exquisite corpse” – the unusual, unplanned, and eclectic interpretation of the body. The ever-changing nature of this project is unlike the corpse­­– more like a series of interactions. It creates an interwoven, living piece of art, infused with the creative minds and practices of a variety of artists. Participating artists are Eilish Gormley, Rich McCloud, Corrine Loomis Dietz, Bonnie Hull, Erik Brambila, Grace Lundblade, Heidi Preuss Grew, Jessica Amos, Jo Hockenhull, Jim Hockenhull, Jodie Garrison, Katy Vigeland, Leo Cuanas, Cassandra Deatherage, Dayna Collins, Nicole Servin, and Tim Knight.

This project came together during covid19 in response to artists wanting to interact with other artists in a safe way, and encouraged playfulness, experimentation and collaboration.

Over the past six months, I made five appearances. I focused on doing photo transfers directly on the wall, which I embellished on subsequent visits (and other artists also added their own changes to the portraits). It was great fun and I recorded my experience through a series of photos.

On my first visit in early November, work on the walls had already started.

My plan for this first visit was to glue black and white portraits of Australian convicts onto the walls.

On my second visit in mid November, I went around to the portraits and using a wet sponge, began the process of removing the paper backing from the photocopies, leaving the inked image on the wall.

By the time I returned in early December, several of the portraits had been modified, embellished, and given new identities.

In January, I did some embellishing myself, adding bits of gold, crowns, and quotes.

I also pulled out paint and created some stripes of color on a blank portion of wall.

On my final visit the first of February, lots had happened.

And in no particular order, some photos from the many walls over the past few months.

What a great project, and it was a treat to be included.

Salvage Collage: Cut and Paste

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.

Vintage Scrapbook/Journal/Notebook by Dayna J. Collins

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.

2021 Journal

2021 Journal page

2021 Journal

2021 Journal

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.

“Bold Adventures,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Constant Equilibrium,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Silent Recognition,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Reciting Poetry by Heart,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Weighing Possibilities,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Mischief Makers,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Beverly,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“A Series of Concurrent Events,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“A Little Out of Place” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Full of Sweet Nostalgia,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“A Smoldering Promise,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“A Sense of Purpose,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Void of Silence,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Spirit of Cooperation,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Seeking Forgiveness,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“Interrupted Story,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

“The Echoes and Shouts of Memory,” Salvage Collage on book board by Dayna J. Collins

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.

Create Whimsy: Spotlight Artist

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 hello@createwhimsy.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

A Short Story + An Opportunity: ART2LIFE Free Workshop

Right before the pandemic gripped the world, I signed up for Nicholas Wilton’s free ART2LIFE workshop. I had heard about it for several years and had friends who had taken the free workshop and then gone on to take Nick’s 12-week intensive Creative Visionary Program (CVP). All of the stories I heard were inspiring and the changes in their art and their artistic confidence was noticeable. I decided to investigate what all of the hullabaloo was about. The free workshop was amazing in itself, with Nick diving into Design/Value/Color. Some was review or things I already knew, but there were pieces that were presented in an entirely new way. I decided to take the leap and sign up for the 12-week CVP course. It wasn’t cheap, but I felt like my art and my art practice needed an infusion of something I couldn’t even name.

Fast forward to February 2020 and the total lock down due to the pandemic. Was I ever glad I had signed up for the intensive course as I had the time to devote to the program. It is hard to describe the level of teaching, support, ideas, and information that was presented. It was a lifesaver during a tough time and my art began to be transformed, my confidence soared, and I began taking more chances. I learned art stuff, art principles, how our life and our art are intertwined, and I learned the business side of art. I became more willing to take risks in my art. But for now, I want to share about the opportunity to take a free workshop offered by Nick. It is worth every minute and introduces you to his way of teaching and conveying information.

If you are already interested, you can click on this link and be taken to the page to sign up for the free workshop (with absolutely no obligation, just a great series of videos). CLICK HERE

In  case you want more information about the free ART2LIFE Workshop. It is:

  • Totally free
  • Held online — so you can watch from anywhere in the world
  • Starting on February 15, 2021 (available on-demand to watch for an entire week)
  • Designed to help you make art that is much more like you (and more impactful, too)

Nick has been making and teaching art for over 25 years, and he is known for helping artists push their art to exciting new places.Specifically, he will be covering the first 3 (and most important) stages in the Art2Life Process, including:


  • Why so many people with lots of education, degrees and experience still struggle to make art they love
  • How to master composition in a way that will quickly elevate your art


  • How to strengthen your discernment — that internal compass — that tells you when to go further, pivot, or pull back with your art
  • How to create a beautiful kind of depth and balance in your art


  • How to add a vibrant new level of dimension AND subtleness to your work with a perspective on color you haven’t heard before!
  • How to feel more confident in your creative choices — so you can begin making art MORE like YOU.

Once I understood these concepts, making art I loved became so much easier … more fun… and it began happening more often. I took the principles I learned during the free workshop (and then the 12-week program) and my art took off in several new directions, including a solo show that is happening this month at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria. And I loved last year’s workshop so much, that I will be taking it again this year.

I’ll be honest, I receive a few perks if you use the link I have provided. I also would love to answer any questions you have about the program, or more specific information about all the areas that are covered. At the very least, I recommend signing up for the free workshop and giving it a try. Click this LINK to sign up for the free workshop – and I really hope to see you there.


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