Restorative Painting: The Architecture of Memory

I met Pat Wheeler at the Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) in 2009. I had signed up for her The Architecture of Memory: Paintings and Constructions class, using plaster, acrylics, and cold wax. I was hooked. I proceeded to take Pat’s class for several years to hone my skills, but also to be in Pat’s presence and experience her energy, passion, and welcoming spirit. Pat and I became friends and I view Pat as an important mentor in my art journey.


A week ago, I received an email from Pat, asking if I could step in for her and teach both of her Pacific Northwest classes: one at OCAC and the other at Sitka. I was humbled, honored, and a bit overwhelmed. Plans were set in motion. Pat wrote a letter to her enrolled students and class descriptions were revised. Pat and I were in steady contact, collaborating on how I could best represent her in the classes, while bringing my own interpretation and teaching style to the classes.

I was out of town during all of this, taking a class on Whidbey Island. Throughout the week, I was furiously writing myself lists, making notes, reading Pat’s messages and her sources of inspiration. My version of the class began to take shape, starting with Pat’s process, folding in the way I have used Pat’s original process, yet made it my own. I’ve taught my own version of the plaster class myself, but somehow, stepping in for Pat, has a certain reverence to it.

If you aren’t familiar with the process, it is a wonderful experience. Here’s a snippet from the class description:

Dayna works in layers, revealing color, texture, and what came before. Using paint, plaster, charcoal, graphite, scraping, sanding, staining, writing, concealing, and revealing, Dayna will take everyone on a journey of discovery, building up a surface, then tearing a portion away, never fully revealing what came before. Look closely and you’ll see word fragments and decomposing texture. Dayna intentionally utilizes the concept of pentimento, where traces and shadows of earlier layers of paintings are revealed.

A few shots from various stages of the process.


Registration is now open at both OCAC (class runs May 30-June 3) and Sitka (class runs from June 5-June 8). If you have any questions about the classes or the process, please email me:

I will miss seeing Pat this year, but I’m looking forward to her return to the Pacific Northwest next year.


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