Dayna J Collins

Tapestry of Resilience: A Visual Journal


We’re back from our six-week plus trip and my blank pages are now plump with found fodder, scrounged materials, a few photos, and lots of writing describing our adventures.

I posted on my personal (and public) Facebook page throughout our trip (Dayna Davidson Collins), so I’m not sharing about any of the trip. What I am sharing are some of the pages from my travel visual journal. In my last blog post, I shared that all of my pages (104 of them) had been pre-gessoed and painted, so all I took in the way of art supplies was a pair of scissors, a jar of matte gel medium, a paintbrush, a brayer, wax paper, and three gel pens – black, white, and red; all my supplies fit in a zip lock baggie.

The daily routine went something like this:

We set out for a day of exploring, hoping to easily find the Tourist Information office so I could gather brochures. Sometimes we weren’t near a TI, so the hunt was on for paper fodder. Art museums were good for brochures, and often their tickets were large and had beautiful art images on them, but there didn’t seem to be as much paper materials as there has been in the past. In a pinch, I bought a bookmark or a couple of post cards so I had images to incorporate onto my pages. Or I picked up bits and pieces of trash or pulled down chunks of posters.

At the end of the day and after dinner, I sat at my makeshift desk or on the bed and cut up images and words to use on my pages. I would make a list of everything we did and saw and began gluing things onto the pages; each day had a two-page spread. I glued, brayered, cleaned up the gluey edges, placed a piece of wax paper over the pages, and weighted them down with whatever was heavy and handy.

In the morning while sipping my cappuccino (which my sweet husband faithfully fetched), I removed the weights and wax paper, grabbed my gel pens, and referring to the list I made the previous day, wrote in and around the images I had glued, recounting what we had done and added details I thought were interesting.

Here are a few photos of me at various points of our trip, working on my pages.

Working at a table in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Working at my desk in Vienna, Austria.

Sneak attack as I worked at my desk in our Berlin, Germany apartment.

The Pages. As I mentioned, my travel journal has 104 pages, so I’ll share a sampling of my two-page spreads, in no particular order.

When we got home, I had a few blank pages remaining, so I printed off some photos, inserted those on the last pages, then added my completed travel journal to a stack of pages from previous trips.



Eastern Europe: Tapestry of Resilience


I created 104 journal pages.

We’re going to be gone for 48 days.

We will be staying in 14 cities.

We will be visiting 8 countries.

We leave on Friday.


104 journal pages

104 painted journal pages

South American trip, Southwestern USA trip, current trip (just waiting for an embellishment to grace the cover).

Creating a journal for this trip has been a highlight and a labor of love. I started working on it about four months ago, tearing watercolor paper into 9-1/2 x 11 inch pieces, gessoing the front and backs, and then painting the pages in a variety of colors. By doing this Herculean task in advance, all I need to take on the trip in the way of art supplies is a pair of scissors, a jar of gel medium, a paintbrush, and Uniball pens in red, white, and black. Presto – instant art studio. At the end of each day I will glue in the ephemera I collected, and write little notes and summaries about what we did.

The Trip

We try and take a big trip every two years. Last year would have been our year, but the stars didn’t align for us to be able to plan to get away in the fall. When January of this year rolled around, we started dreaming and scheming and settled on eastern (central) Europe. We worked with a travel agency to help with the planning, and that proved to be a great decision. They worked out all of the details to get us from one place to the next, and gave us limited choices of where we would stay. We’ll have an initiation city tour the first morning of every city where we stay, and then we’re on our own (We’re starting in Dubrovnik, Croatia and working our way north, east, west, and continually north, ending in Berlin). You know we’ve got some good stuff planned – on the beaten track, and definitely off the beaten path. Can you say Sniper Alley? Thank you Atlas Obscura.

The Packing

We’re trying to pack light and compact, each of us taking one medium suitcase and a carry on backpack/messenger bag. For those who know us, packing light isn’t our thing. But probably one of the most important decisions, is what books to take. These are the two main ones I chose (thanks to Joni, who recommended The Art of Fielding).

Getting Out of the House

Howard is busily working late into the night thanks to a one day trial that was supposed to be over last Thursday, but turned into a 4-1/2 day trial and concludes tomorrow. His three days to get work wrapped up and ready for him to leave, dwindled down to just tonight and half of tomorrow. But some of it will all get done.

Tomorrow is my hair day, a three-hour ordeal, plus several more errands . . . and maybe one final trip to our downtown bookstore. Today I met with my friend Jami, who will be house sitting for us and keeping company with our six-toed cat while we are away. So many details to attend to.

Friday morning we will be picked up by Sam and Stewart and escorted to Portland. We’ll treat them to lunch, and they will deposit us at the Portland Airport. And it begins.

Deluxe taxi service from Sam and Stewart in 2015.

Deluxe taxi service from Sam and Stewart in 2015.


NOTE: I won’t be blogging during our trip as I sometimes have in the past, it is just too time consuming. But I will be posting on my Facebook and Instagram pages, so if you’re interested, follow along.

Facebook: Dayna Davidson Collins

Instagram: DaynaLovesArt


Scrounged Beauty: The Opening


Stephanie Brockway and Dayna Collins

Here we are the day of our show opening, stopping by for a final sneak peek since we hadn’t yet seen our scrounged letters hanging above the word beauty. We loved it. We spent the day tromping all over Astoria, took a short rest, then returned at 5:00 to celebrate our opening for the rest of the evening.

Final formal photos of Stephanie and me.

Once the guests began to arrive, it was a riot of activity, laughter, fun, chatter, music, visiting, drinking, eating, and general merriment as people came and went, lingered, wandered, stopped back for another look and chat. Stephanie and I were blown away by how many of our friends drove from out of town: Seattle, Salem, Portland, and Albany.

After the last guest drifted away, a group of friends joined us for dinner across the street at Fulio’s and we lingered late into the evening, basking in the afterglow of a successful show and opening party.





Scrounged Beauty

Years of Collecting

After years of being junking partners, my friend Stephanie Brockway and I are doing a show together at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria. Both of us have shown our work at RiverSea for years, and Stephanie had a solo show there a couple of years ago. I show paintings, she shows a combination of paintings and outsider folk art. Scrounged Beauty is found object art, highlighting the best of our collections of found objects, and as some would say, junk.

Months of Auditioning

I spent months pulling things out of drawers, bins, bowls, and trays, choosing which pieces to try out on various pieces of reclaimed wood and prepared boards.

Weeks of Connecting, Titling, Signing, and Photographing

A Day of Hanging

Okay, Colin actually did the hanging, while Steph and I gallivanted around Astoria.

A Sampling of My Pieces (out of 42 I have in the show!)

“Delightful Daydreams,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Giddyup, Little One Trick Pony,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Obscured Thoughts,” by Dayna J. Collins

“A Whisper of Conspiracy,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Drawn Into Memory,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Daily Interactions,” by Dayna J. Collins

“The Tiniest Things Mean Something,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Most Expedient Route,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Painstaking Exactitude,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Traveling Side Show,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Seeing Through Shadows,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Little Time to Talk,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Untroubled By Disturbing Dreams,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Beckoning,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Staring Into the Distance,” by Dayna J. Collins


Art Retreating on the Metolius River

The Salem Art Group makes an annual pilgrimage to Camp Sherman every summer thanks to the hospitality and generosity of Katy, who invites us to stay at her family cabin, which is located right on the Metolius River on Forest Service land. It is quiet, remote, and there is no cell service or WIFI, making for the perfect art venue.

This year, seven of our 10 members were able to attend, and after sorting out who would sleep where, unpacking our coolers of food, and setting up our art-making spaces, we all settled in for the business and fun of making art, chatting, and eating. Art making happened during the day, late into the night, and early in the morning, necessitating moving around to chase light, avoid heat, or to stay warm. It was all part of the art dance.

The food. We ate really well thanks to creative cooks and eating the bounty of summer. One evening, Susan prepared a beautiful dinner for everyone, one morning Jessica made pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup. I brought along a little container of cold brew.

The art. We all worked on individual projects throughout the week. A couple of people stitched, a few painted, all but two of us sketched pretty much all of the time. I didn’t sketch, but I did get sketched!

My art project for this year was to work on four Salvage Collage pieces for an upcoming show at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria. I lugged bins of book scraps, a box of book covers, and dozens of covers from pulp fiction novels. I set my space up on the deck, under cover, with a view of the Metolius River.

Every year, Bonnie makes little blank journals for us and during the time we are together, we each work on our individual journals, usually in the evening and after we have moved inside. From a blank book to crammed pages!

Some of us used bits and pieces from a central collage pile to create books. For me, I used pieces of discarded books I was working with during my week. Here are my pages:

Several of us went for a hike every day, with Katy leading us in all different directions.

It was a great week and I returned rested and reinvigorated, and already looking forward to next summer.

Press Play Salem

Every once in a delightful while you come across an individual who is so apologetically bold and creatively daring in how they live and work and play that you cannot help but feel inspired by their vivacious presence and vibrant energy.    Jessica Murdoch


I was invited by Carlee Wright, publisher and editor, and Jessica Murdoch, co-editor and writer, to be featured in the second issue of Press Play Salem, an arts + entertainment + culture magazine focusing on the people, places, and things to do in Oregon’s beautiful capital city, Salem. How could I refuse, it was such an honor.

Carlee came to our July Art After Dark Open Studios at The Studios at Mission Mill, where I have my Special Projects Studio, and shot some photos of me for the article. Then Jessica sent me a series of questions to answer – a LOT of questions – and I wrote and wrote and wrote, wondering how she would ever decipher everything and boil it down into an article. But she did. Amazingly well, I might add.

I ran downtown on July 31 and picked up a stack of copies. I spread them out the next day and shot this photo. But I didn’t read the article. I really didn’t. I was too nervous. Two days later, I finally decided I would read what Jessica had written. I read it out loud to Howard, choking up a bit as I read. How could this article be about me? But there it was, a beautifully written expose of how I live my life and the art I make.

The next day, we met our son and two granddaughters for lunch at Taproot, where there was a huge stack of Press Play Salem. I grabbed a couple to show Scott, just as Avery grabbed crayons and colored over my face. Sounds about right.

Jessica’s final paragraph:

And that’s Dayna. The woman is — in a word–colorful. She is a kaleidoscope of personality and spontaneity. Her art and her method reflect the most intimate version of her spirited self, and she is fearless when it comes to sharing her artistic expression with the world, making no apology for the outcome: ‘Taking an idea and expanding upon it, with twists and turns along the way, and ending up with something entirely unexpected, is the thrill of the process.’


“I’ve Got the Color in Me”

I returned Sunday night from teaching my four-day Abstracted Landscapes in Oil and Cold Wax at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, on the Oregon Coast. It was a mountain top experience. I arrived on Wednesday afternoon to get settled into my cabin and to get the studio set up for class the following day.

Class started on Thursday morning and for four days we hardly came up for air. The days were a blur of demonstrations, techniques, inspirational readings, laying down paint, scraping it off, laying down more layers, breaking for lunch, more demos and more paint. There was a constant chatter in the room, students getting feedback from each other and from me.

On Friday afternoon, I presented my Art Talk.

On the third day, we talked about composition, color, and design elements, and everyone started to refine their pieces and move them toward resolution. Students were introduced to R and F Pigment Sticks, and enjoyed vying for their favorite colors.


Some glimpses of moments throughout the days:


Some of my demos during the week:

On Sunday afternoon, we did a casual Show and Tell Walkabout, where everyone talked about the process and shared a couple of their favorite pieces. Here are the Walkabout photos:

The following is a stream of photos illustrating some the beautiful work created by these energetic, fun, and talented artists. Feast your eyes on all this color:

We took a group photo on Sunday morning, no easy task, but we pulled it off after a few tries!


Art After Dark: July Open Studios


I’m fortunate to be a member of a group of 11 artists who share the second floor of the Wool Warehouse at the Willamette Heritage Center. We call our space: Studios at the Mill. We have been together in various forms (in various studios) for the past four years. My space is always evolving depending on my latest project. What remains the same for now is this is my Special Projects Studio, where I house all of my ephemera, vintage books, and oodles of photographs.

Initially, we hosted Open Studios on a monthly basis, but after a few years, that got to be too much, so for the past couple of years we host Art After Dark Open Studios quarterly. Last night was our July event. On the second Thursday of our chosen month, we all fling open the doors to our studio, serve wine, sparkling water, and lots of food – savory and sweet. Our studio member Jim Hockenhull often has his wife, Jo, join him in providing us with music and last night they played and people danced. We also asked Steve, who owns a new restaurant at the Willamette Heritage Center, Krewe du Soul, if he would serve samples of his Cajun fare. He agreed and for two hours offered samples of jambalaya and gumbo; there were lots of people walking the halls with smiles on their faces. To best share our event, here are photos I took of people throughout the evening.

For our next Art After Dark Open Studios, we’re mixing it up a bit and it will be held a month later on: Thursday, November 8, 2018.

Radius 25: Through My Eyes

The Salem Art Association invited established and emerging artists (who live or work within 25 miles of Salem) to submit artwork for Radius 25: Through My Eyes, a juried group exhibition at the Bush Barn Art Center in Salem.

There were 230 entries for this group exhibition, with 50 works of art selected by juror Jennifer H. Pepin, an artist and owner of J. Pepin Art Gallery in Portland, Oregon. My entry, In the Fading Light of Evening, is plaster, oil, and cold wax, 18x24x2 inches, and was one of the 50 pieces selected for the show.

“In the Fading Light of Evening,” by Dayna J. Collins.

The show runs through August 25 at the Salem Art Association’s Bush Art Barn.

Restorative Painting: Sitka Workshop

I wrote a blog post on May 8 about how I was asked by Pat Wheeler if I would take over teaching her Restorative Painting: The Architecture of Memory class at both the Oregon College of Art and Craft and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, as she was unable to make her annual trip to Oregon. The OCAC class wasn’t a go, but the Sitka class was and it took place last week. What a week.

I arrived late on Monday, and got settled into McKee House, my cabin in the woods.

I spent Monday evening preparing the classroom, one of my favorite things to do. After getting it ready, I turned off the overhead lights and turned on the party lights. A magical space.

Tuesday morning, my students arrived ready to work. I was loosely following Pat’s syllabus, including the addition of her idea for the class to create small works of art on heavy watercolor paper. These pieces could be used as a warm up, as inspiration for bigger pieces, or just for the pleasure of creating small pieces of art. I decided I would start off with a timed warm up, where I quickly told students what to do on three squares of paper spread out across their table: Draw a line, add a swath of paint, make a mark using a color, using a sharp object, draw into the wet paint, make a mark with your eyes closed, ending with the instruction to do whatever they wanted for five minutes. It was a great ice breaker and got everyone ready to jump in with their big boards.

Samples from Pat’s “Art Box,” which she sent to me in advance of our class.


Pat mentioned that she had a couple of boxes in storage at Sitka, which the Studio Tech had pulled out. It was pretty exciting to see what she had left in anticipation of this year’s class. If only Pat had jumped out and surprised us!

Getting down to business, the first step was painting our boards, which was a great way to get our bodies moving. I bought Pat’s signature paint: Benjamin Moore’s Tomato Red and Carbon Copy, along with a periwinkle blue of my choosing. After all of the boards were painted, outside they went to dry.

It was then time to break open our buckets of mud, technically known as joint compound, but the fancy term for using on show cards, limestone clay.

And then the boards went back outside to dry. Fortunately, the weather cooperated for three of our four days.

On Wednesday morning, we began doing one of the messier steps: sanding.

A signature of Pat’s process is incorporating photo transfers onto plastered and sanded boards. I’ve never been very proficient with this technique and although I practiced at my home studio prior to class, I was less than successful. Todd and Kell to the rescue. Both have worked with transfers with great success and I asked if they would be willing to demonstrate this technique.

After their successful transfer demos, everyone jumped in.

Wednesday afternoon, and it was time to begin sharing painting techniques. How to do washes and stains with paint, add and subtract, push and pull, a little of this, a lot of that, writing, stenciling, scritching and scratching . . . .

Sometimes more plaster was needed either as an eraser, or to add interest.


On Friday morning, my final demo was adding a layer of cold wax to seal the layers. Here’s Kira adding cold wax to her beautiful painting.

I worked on a demo piece during the week, and on Friday morning I sealed it with cold wax as well. Here are a few of my favorite areas:

During the week, the studio was a hive of activity. I opened the doors an hour early every day, and kept the studio open into the evening so anyone who wanted extra studio time, could take advantage (and almost everyone did).

On our final afternoon, we created time for show and tell, sharing what we enjoyed about the process, as well as what was challenging.

I drove home grateful for a class willing to accept a substitute teacher, who gave their all and worked hard, and left with a beautiful series of art. Because their work was so beautiful, here are photos of the pieces they chose to share with the class.





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