Dayna J Collins

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A Painting Intensive With Pat Wheeler

I was invited to join six seasoned artists at Stacey’s fantastic studio in North Portland painting alongside Pat Wheeler. I thought about it for about 30 seconds before replying with a big juicy YES. Pat is the artist I learned the plaster process from at Oregon College of Art and Craft in 2010; I continued to take her five-day workshop for the opportunity to be in her presence and soak up her process and positive energy. When I stopped taking her workshop, I still visited Pat whenever she was teaching in Oregon, either at OCAC or at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and I view this lovely woman as one of my mentors.

The invited artists had all taken Pat’s class several times and we were all experienced working with the materials. The goal of this painting intensive was not only to work alongside Pat, but to also share our own techniques and how we had morphed the process to make it our own.

We started off by painting our boards. I like to activate my boards initially with writing and marks as a way to begin and to fight the blank canvas.

 

 

The next step is applying plaster, aka joint compound, or the fancy terminology: limestone clay. It is applied with putty knives and allows all kinds of marks, patterns, and texture to be incorporated as it is being applied.

Once the plaster is dry, it is time to sand.

And then the fun begins, applying washes of color. More drying. More sanding. More paint. GO.

And always more writing and mark making.

This was the process throughout the week, repeated again and again, everyone going at their own pace.

Of course, there was lots of sharing of ideas and techniques.

Here is one of the boards that was deemed completed, so I sealed it with a layer of cold wax, buffed it, and called it finished: “Cracks in the Sidewalk,” 30×30 inches. The beautiful little bundle in the niche was created as gift from Pat.

 

Sitka Class: Abstracted Waterlines in Oil and Cold Wax

 

Happy are the painters,  for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end, or almost to the end, of the day.  Winston S. Churchill

 

A dream came true last week when I taught a four-day class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, located on the Oregon Coast at Cascade Head. I have taken many classes at Sitka over the years and many of those classes helped shape me as an abstract artist, so it felt satisfying and exhilarating to be standing on the other side of the table.

I arrived at the forested campus on Sunday evening and got settled into my private cabin, located just a few steps from Boyden Studio, where my class was to be held.

A couple of people offered to help me get the studio set up, but this was something I wanted to do by myself. I was feeling emotional and sentimental about teaching at Sitka, and I just wanted to fully experience it in solitude.

Monday morning I arrived early, ready for the day to begin and feeling just a tiny bit anxious.

Students began to arrive and get settled in. . . . . and then the next four days were a glorious blur of demos, activating boards, spreading paint, discussing how to let go, experimenting with new techniques, and making brave, bold marks.

Throughout the week, some artists arrived early in the morning, some stayed a little late into the evening, but there were three hearty souls who arrived early and stayed very late into the evening.

One night several of us went out to dinner in Pacific City and stopped to visit Lynne’s studio.

Boyden Studio was a blur of camaraderie and activity with artists working independently at times, other times soliciting feedback and ideas from each other.

The weather was good for three of the four days and we were able to take advantage of the outdoors to eat lunch, lay out our boards, and occasionally relax.

I had fun doing demos every day (even when they didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned!).

 

At times everyone worked hard, other times they kicked back.

I went into the studio early every morning to prepare for the day and enjoy the remnants of the previous day’s energy.

For the majority of time, everyone got into a zone, the flow state of letting go and laying down layers for the pure pleasure of experiencing the paint.

On Thursday afternoon we did a show ‘n tell and walkabout.

 

Here’s a sampling of what was created over the four days.

Pam’s work in progress.

 

Casey’s work in progress.

 

Kelly’s work in progress.

 

Louise’s work in progress.

 

BJ’s work in progress.

 

Louise’s work in progress.

 

Jan’s work in progress.

 

Cindy’s work in progress.

 

Phil’s work in progress.

 

Terri’s work in progress.

 

Lynne’s work in progress.

 

Pam’s work in progress.

 

Terri’s work in progress.

 

Cindy’s work in progress.

 

Terri’s work in progress.

 

BJ’s work in progress.

 

Phil’s work in progress.

 

Kelly’s work in progress.

 

It was an amazing experience and the perfect mix of students.

 

Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.    Neil Gaiman

 

 

The Book: “Cold Wax Medium-Techniques, Concepts & Conversations”

It’s finally in my hands: my copy of the newly published and released book Cold Wax Medium – Techniques, Concepts, and Conversations by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin. I was invited in mid 2015 to submit photos of my art for possible inclusion in Rebecca and Jerry’s book project. A contract was signed in July, 2015, and now the book has arrived. It contains 319 gorgeous pages – full color, dreamy heavy paper, and chock full of beautiful art, techniques, and ideas. (Preorders have ended, but general sales begin May 12 and you can place your order by going here.)

These are the two pieces of my art that appear in the book (pages 68 and 229):

“Insatiably Curious,” 16×16 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax, 2015, from my Ricochet series. SOLD.

 

“Things Still Remembered,” 24×24 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax, 2014. SOLD

The two images included in the book were both pieces that had incorporated niches into the substrate and subsequent composition. Here are the pages as they appear in Rebecca and Jerry’s book.

A bit of the text:

I can’t wait to sit down and begin reading through this compendium of everything oil and cold wax. And more.

Waterlines: The Opening Reception

Last night was the opening reception for my Waterlines show at Guardino Gallery. It was a magical evening with a steady flow of people stopping by to see my show in the Feature Gallery and Mar’s show in the Main Gallery. Words? Not so much. But photos? Yes, please.

Guardino Gallery is located at 2939 NE Alberta and the show runs through May 21.

Waterlines: Hanging the Show

My upcoming show, Waterlines, opens on Thursday, April 27th, with a reception from 6-9 pm. Yesterday was hanging day and it all went very smoothly thanks to Donna Guardino’s savvy eye and her assistant Gail’s infectious energy. My husband helped wherever needed, while I sort of stood around and watched everyone work. It’s exciting to watch a show come together after months of painting in solitude. From a blank gallery space  . . .

. . .  to watching Donna triage my art . . . .

. . . to auditioning different possibilities.

In no time at all, the hanging frenzy began.

Meanwhile, I schlepped painted driftwood from the car to the gallery for use in the front display window.

And within the span of two hours, the show was hung and the pieces numbered and ready for title cards to be hung. In the end, the show features 39 pieces of art, from 5×5 inches to 36×48 inches.

Here’s all the info on the show. Hope to see you tomorrow night.

Quarterly Open Studios

The artists at the Art Studios at Mission Mill decided at the end of last year that they wanted to host quarterly Open Studios rather than monthly events. I personally liked having them monthly, but they did seem to roll around rather quickly. Our quarterly event, under the umbrella of Art After Dark, will be held this Thursday, April 13, from 6-8 pm (a change from our old time of 5-7 pm). Studio A, where I hang out, has been converted to my Special Project Studio, where I am working on a big mixed media and collage project titled: What’s Your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories through Black and White PhotosI started this project last year, but it has been evolving and morphing into something bigger than I earlier anticipated. I still have my two walls of black and white photos, which have expanded and taken over more real estate. 

I recently had the opportunity to sort through a couple dozen boxes and three chests of family photos and ephemera and somehow I managed to find room in my compact corner space for piles and mounds of paper, 3-D bits, and photos.

 

I’ll be doing an Artist in Residence at the Salem Art Association Annex in the fall, so for now, my ideas are percolating as I spend time in this special studio. I’ll be sharing more about my fall project a bit later, but it includes a panel discussion, two weeks of working in a spacious light-filled studio, and will culminate in a one-day workshop I’ll be teaching. In the meantime, come see my newest acquisitions and hear more about my project on Thursday night.

 

ART AFTER DARK

The Art Studios at Mission Mill are located at the Willamette Heritage Center, across from Willamette University on 12th Street and across from the Amtrak Train Station on Mill Street. All of the second floor studios will be open, Carol Green will be demonstrating a Polaroid emulsion lift process (“The World Through Polaroid Imagining”), and Bonnie Hull is bringing her instant camera and will be taking curated photos ($1, please bring exact change). There will be new art on the communal walls and all of the artists will be serving refreshments. On the first floor, Max Marbles, the bookbinder, will be open, the Eco Hub is featuring student artwork honoring nature, and you can meet the newest tenants: award-winning photographer Frank Barnett and his wife, 3D artist and writer, Mart Soloman. It’s going to be a splendid night!

Waterlines Art Show: Making Headway

“Where the Blue is Deep and Soft and Silent,” 24×24 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax.

I am happy to share the news that I’m having a show at Guardino Gallery in NE Portland. My show is titled Waterlines and I’ve been painting and preparing for almost a year, although I’ve been experimenting and painting waterlines for the past three years. My fascination with waterlines began as a child. Growing up as the daughter of a river rat on the Columbia River, plus time spent at my grandparent’s beach cabin on the Oregon Coast, I learned to love waterlines at an early age. In the summer of 2014, as I was floating in the Columbia River, I noticed the waterline on a boat. I was captivated by the beautiful colors and imagined it as an abstract painting.

“The Wind Stilled Itself,” 10x10x2 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax.

I like to describe waterlines as: Where water meets an edge. A shoreline. The hull of a ship. The sand. Riverbanks. Sky. In exploring various forms of waterlines, I am especially interested in experimenting with the intersections, where water meets the land. I ask myself, “What’s happening at the horizon line? Turbulence or ripples. Calmness or agitation. What’s above, or, what’s below.

“The Turmoil of Raging Tides,” 12×12 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax.

Drawing upon the flexibility of working with oil paint mixed with cold wax medium and sometimes R and F Pigment Sticks, I am able to create layers of color using palette and putty knives to apply, push, pull, and scrape the layers of paint to reveal and explore the rick complexity of water, land, and sky.

“Sweet Blue Rhythm,” 8×8 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax.

The show opens Thursday, April 27 and runs through May 21st. The opening reception is Thursday, April 27th from 6-9 pm.

“Heat Waves Buckling the Air,” 11×14 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax.

 

Intro to Drawing

In all my years of painting and making art, I’ve never taken a good old fashioned drawing class. I’ve never been taught about using sighting sticks, measuring perspectives, figuring out a base unit of measure, drawing negative spaces, or learning about the six elements of light. I’ve never had a particularly strong desire to sketch, although I have always kept visual journals for recording ideas and inspiration. I’ve sketched out concepts, played with color combinations, and have always loved experimenting with compositions. So when my artist friend Heidi posted on Facebook last December that she had a couple of spaces open in her Introduction to Drawing class at our local community college, it caught my attention. And I decided to jump in and take a formal drawing class. . . . . and it kind of kicked my butt.

The class met twice a week from 6:00-9:00 pm. I went the first night and got the syllabus, learned everyone’s name (there were about 15 of us), and got excited about the list of supplies, because, well, I love art supplies. The next day I went to the art store and meticulously searched for the various numbered pencils (8B, 6B, 4B, 2B, HB, 2H), vine and compressed charcoal, a kneaded rubber eraser AND a Staedtler Mars plastic eraser, a blending stump (I’ve always wondered what those crazy things were used for), a large pad of newsprint as well as a pad of nice drawing paper, a journal for drawing exercises, other miscellaneous supplies, and a tote for carrying all of my supplies back and forth. On our first night we were assigned a flat file locker for storing our paper and supplies; I felt like a real student.

Besides being in class six hours a week, Heidi warned us that drawing assignments outside of class would take us six to seven hours a week, which meant that I would be devoting 12-13 hours a week drawing. Immersion seemed to be a good way to learn the basics and become familiar with learning how to draw. I already owned the text for the class, the drawing Bible by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Throughout the early chapters Betty kept saying how easy it is to learn to draw. I disagree.

Here’s how the class went. We were given our assignments on Wednesday. We would show up at class on Monday and everyone would put their journals on the table, displaying the homework we had done. Heidi would review each drawing, commenting on what had been done correctly (“I believe you, I believe you,” she would say as she carefully looked at our lines and measurements), and what needed more work. We then had the opportunity to go home and make corrections before bringing our journal back on Wednesday for final review and grading by Heidi, each student meeting privately for this portion of the review.

Class time was spent learning new concepts and then drawing. Heidi would set up a still life, adding crazy things to make it more challenging, then we would do our best to apply the concepts and draw what we saw from our perspective in the classroom. Students often worked in pairs doing peer reviews of each others work. It required setting aside ego and being brave. DIGRESSION: The “closet” where the still life objects were stored, well, that made me a bit weak in the knees. Here’s a look inside the closet just because I love this sort of thing:

One evening, there was a young man kind of hanging around in the classroom. He disappeared into a small side closet and when he emerged wearing a tank top and shorts, Heidi announced we would be doing gesture drawing and we had a LIVE MODEL. Okay, now we’re talking.

We did a series of one-minute gesture drawings, and for each one, our model changed position. What I drew wasn’t particularly great, but I sure had fun experimenting. And with only a minute (then two minutes) to draw, there was no time for being judgmental. I could do quick gesture drawings all night. And we did.

 

The six elements of light. Who knew. Highlight, light, shadow, core of shadow, reflected light, cast shadow. Did you know there are a LOT of You Tube videos on drawing the shadows of an egg?

 

I’m not going to share a lot of my drawings, but I’ll share a few pages from my journal. The following are still lifes we set up at home and illustrate using the skills of sighting, basic unit of measuring, the use of light and shadows, drawing negative shapes, varying values – just about everything we have been working on for the past six weeks.

What I learned in class besides the concepts? Learning to see, to quiet my brain and train my eye to draw what it sees, not what my brain thinks something should look like, which is basically drawing from the right side of my brain rather than the left side. It is a lot harder than it sounds, especially since my left brain is pretty strong willed and stubborn. I was grateful to have Heidi as my teacher and guide. She has been patient, creative, and inventive in how she taught all of these techniques, and she was funny, which goes a long ways when learning something challenging and tedious.

And now I’m ready to get back to something I know: painting.

Art Comes in Many Forms

I believe there are many ways to express creativity and make art besides painting, sculpting, and collaging: gardening, sewing, cooking, and decorating are just a few. We recently completed a four-month art renovation project in our basement, transforming it from a rather dark and dated space into a brighter, more contemporary one. Somewhere along the line, previous owners had added a small kitchen and rented the room out as an apartment. We hardly ever used the kitchen and had no plans to become basement landlords or hoteliers, so the kitchen was on the chopping block. But before that happened, Howard came home for lunch one day and started in on the knotty pine walls.

 

Next, we took down the yellowed and stained acoustic ceiling tiles.

I even got in on the action by helping remove hundreds of staples.

Next, Howard removed the old kitchen.

And took out a window that was no longer functional due to an outside deck covering it completely.

Next was new wiring and lighting, sheet rock, priming, and painting.

The old rug was pulled up and replaced with new.

Finally, we were ready to put the space back together. Here is what the sleeping area looked like: before and after.

We had ordered a new sectional in January, and it was delivered on Valentine’s Day. Best gift ever. And we immediately put the new room to use since Major Lefty was hanging out with us for a couple of days.

This project is now complete. Ummmm, I wonder what our next “art project” will be.

I Spy . . . . .

 

 

I spy . . . . a propeller, a watch, false teeth, and keys.

I spy . . . . handcuffs, a comb, boats, and a ladder.

I spy . . . . a brush, an eraser, numbers, and a whistle.

I spy . . . . wheels, a fish hook, curlers, and a doorbell.

I spy . . . . a luggage tag, pencils, a knife, and perfume.

I spy . . . . hands, a mouse trap, a harmonica, and rulers.

I spy . . . . a clothespin, mirrors, a diaper pin, and a ladder.

I spy . . . . flowers, a shovel, stars, an anchor, and a clown.

I spy . . . . dishes, a wing, bells, and a car.

I was invited to create a piece of art in response to the Salem Reads: One Book, One Community project. The book chosen for the project is Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream, by Joshua Davis.

Since the four teenagers built an underwater robot using spare and scavenged parts, I created my piece using my favorite found and scavenged objects. The title of my piece is Everything Accounted For, and here is my artist statement:

I’m a collector, energized by hunting for worn out and discarded objects. When I see a beat up vintage tin or discover a rusty piece of metal, I hyperventilate a bit. I’m excited about the opportunity to give new life to these cast off, expendable objects.  Everything Accounted For represents some of the best pieces from my collection, each one a sacred scrap. In creating this piece, I was inspired by the resourcefulness, vision, and creativity of Oscar, Cristian, Luis, and Lorenzo.

The exhibit will be at the Salem Public Library from January 31 – February 26, 2017. The opening reception is Tuesday, January 31st at 5:30 pm.

When my piece returns home, this is where it will hang:

 

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