Daily Painting Journal: How I Do It

Several people have asked me if I plan to offer a class on how I keep a daily painting journal. Whenever I’ve been asked, I’ve thought, I just paint something every day in a book. But there is more to it than that, so rather than a class, I thought I would share using my blog as the means to convey the details of what I do and the benefits of why I do it.

I’ll start with why I decided to keep a daily painting journal. The simple answer is I wanted to have a prompt or motivation to get me into my studio. I figured if I set an intention to do a small daily painting, I might just linger and do something else and build upon the time I spend in my studio. Many times that has happened, but other times, I do my painting and that is it for the day; but it is something.

Another reason I decided to start a practice of creating a small painting in a journal is that it allows me to experiment and play with ideas. By creating in a small journal, the painting isn’t precious, it isn’t for anyone but me, and it allows me a certain amount of freedom that painting on a large canvas or painting for a show doesn’t allow me.

What I learned along the way:


  • It’s fun. Sometimes I don’t want to stop and I allow myself to put leftover paint from my current page onto the next day’s page so I have something to respond to the next day.


  • It isn’t precious when it’s in a journal. It seems my inner critic is quieted by painting on the page of a journal. I approach it as just practice or at best playtime, so the censors are muted.


  • I was inspired along the way. I often use my daily journal pages as inspiration for bigger paintings, either in acrylic or in oil and cold wax. The pages allow me to play with colors and compositions so when it is time to show up in the studio and create bigger pieces with a deadline or for some other purpose, I have lots of ideas to choose from and use as a spring board, even if the finished piece looks nothing like my journal page.

My process:

  • It is important to have a dedicated space for doing my daily paintings. I have a table set up in my studio with acrylic paints, paintbrushes, palette knives, a brayer, water, paper towels, and mark-making implements such as pencils, acrylic paint pens, and oil pastels.

  • I use a 9×9 inch Super Deluxe Mixed Media journal by Bee Paper Aquabee (manufactured in Beaverton, Oregon). The journal has 60 sheets and the pages are 93 lb. weight; the journals retail for $21.25 (and at the time of this blog post, they are on sale at Dick Blick for $10.04).

  • I cover each journal with handmade paper, using sandpaper to rough up the cover’s surface, then adhering the paper with matte medium.

  • When I started this project at the beginning of the year, I painted an entry on each side of the page, but after a few days I wondered if I might want to do something with the individual paintings, i.e., pull them out and hang them for a show, or pull them out and mount them to a panel. If I had paintings on each side, I wouldn’t be able to do either of those things, so I quickly abandoned double-sided painting and now use one page for each daily painting. I go through journals more quickly, but I have options if I choose to do something with all or some of the paintings in the future.


  • I use acrylic paint on the pages. A few times I’ve incorporated collage, but so far the focus has primarily been on creating abstract paintings. For making marks, I use No. 2 and Stabilo pencils, Woody chunky crayons, acrylic pens, and oil pastels.


  • In my first four journals, my paintings are in the middle of the page, going out toward the edges, but not to the edges. When I started my fifth journal on August 11 (Day #223), I was ready to mix it up and started painting all the way to the edge on all four sides.

  • I let the paintings dry thoroughly, but for the first few days after I have painted a page, I insert a piece of wax paper to prevent the pages from sticking together.

  • I number and date each page, and then photograph each painting, which I store on my computer by the “day” number.


  • I regularly post photos of my daily paintings on Instagram and on my Facebook art page; I share selected photos on Pinterest, and on occasion, I do a blog post highlighting some of my favorite pages. Here are links to previous posts:

January 25, 2019

March 27, 2019

May 28, 2019

August 2, 2019

I recommend giving a daily painting journal a try, using my methods or coming up with something that works for you. The benefits are more than worth the effort and I love watching my journals stack up.

Daily Art Practice: Visual Painting Journal – Mid Summer Paintings

200th Painting!
July 19, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

Daily painting is still happening in my studio (and sometimes when I’m on the road and not at home). One time I forgot to take my painting journal with me, so I painted on little pieces of watercolor paper I had available and then taped the pieces into my journal, a couple of make do entries (you’ll see them below). Here are some selected pages since my last post on May 28.

May 30, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

June 5, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

June 7, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

June 12, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

June 13, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

June 14, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

June 22, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

June 23, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 8, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 13, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 15, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 20, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 21, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 23, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 26, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 27, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 28, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 29, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

July 31, 2019
Dayna J. Collins


Salvage Collage: A Sort of Magic – Opening Reception

The opening reception for my show (with ceramic artist Michelle Gallagher) at Guardino Gallery, was on Thursday, July 25. It was a warm evening and lots of people were out enjoying art and the festivities of Last Thursday on Alberta.

The official photos:

Michelle Gallagher, Donna Guardino, and me

The unofficial photos:


Alea and me

Howard chats with Stacey and Fred

Greg Carrigan catching up with friends

Howard and Donna watch the festivities of Last Thursday on Alberta

With my daughter Amy

Stan and Bobbie

Grandson Major ponders the art

Howard and Steph

Thank you to everyone who came out for the opening and for those who have been visiting since the show opened.

Salvage Collage: A Sort of Magic

My show is hung. After working on a variety of pieces over the past year and a half, I can take a deep breath and revel in the accomplishment of creating a body of work and getting to share it at Guardino Gallery. All of the pieces I have been working on for this show have been created out of old books. My Artist Statement pretty much says it all:

Dayna Collins has always loved old books. She hyperventilates at the sight of books which are stained, defaced, torn or marked up. She rips battered books apart, reclaiming their faded fragments, and creates collages using only materials she has excavated.  Dayna’s mixed media pieces reflect the passage of time, repurposing the scraps that are worn and weathered, transforming the aged and tattered pieces into something unexpected and beautiful, celebrating their fragile decay.

Here’s the tiniest glimpse of what has been going on over the past 18 months:

Then it became time to begin putting the pieces together into some sort of format for presentation. I ended up using six different formats.

Salvage Collages on vintage blocks.

Book boards floating in a custom black frame.

“A Lulling Possibility of Happiness,” salvage collage on book board.

“A Shattered Sense of Normality,” matted and framed in white.

“Secrets Spill Out,” salvage collage on vintage piece of wood.

“Hope Carson,” salvage collage on watercolor paper, mounted on cradled panel.

Then there was the Herculean task of titling, mounting, photographing, inventorying, and packing. There were a few hiccups with the floating and the mounting, but after a few tears, I nutted up and found a solution.

Prepping for the “floating” of the book board collages.

My photography studio.

It was fun to work in so many styles, using the same materials to create entirely different looks. Unfortunately, it was a challenge for Donna and Gail to hang such disparate styles of work. But they did a magnificent job and created combinations I never would have imagined.

One of my favorite things about having a show at Guardino (this is my fourth one!), is designing the window. As soon as I got notice that I would have a show in July, I started plotting and planning for the window.

It turned out just as I had hoped.

Photo courtesy of ceramic artist Michelle Gallagher.

The show opens on Thursday, July 25, from 6-9 pm. I’m sharing the Feature Gallery with my friend and fellow artist, Michelle Gallagher, who has created a delightful series of ceramic corvids. Their dark beauty compliment my pieces perfectly and we were excited to share this show. Michelle took some great photos, so here is a peek at our show. . . . hopefully this will entice you out tomorrow night for a summer evening of merriment and refreshments (and to experience Last Thursday on Alberta).

Photo courtesy of ceramic artist Michelle Gallagher.

Photo courtesy of ceramic artist Michelle Gallagher.

Photo courtesy of ceramic Michelle Gallagher.

PS Last weekend our local YMCA had their final book sale in their old building. Of course, I was there first thing on Friday morning, restocking my art supplies . . . .

Stash of raw materials.


Abstracted Play in Oil and Cold Wax: June 2019

I’m a tad tardy in sharing about my June class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, but it has been fun looking through all of the photos a month later. This class was special because Sitka had a last minute workshop cancellation and I was asked to teach an additional session of my Abstracted Play in Oil and Cold Wax (my August class filled quickly and had a long waiting list).

Sitka is located on the Oregon Coast at Cascade Head (between Lincoln City and Neskowin). I got to stay in Gray House, a cabin located just a short walk up from Boyden Studio, where my class was held.

Gray House

I love the process of preparing to teach – walking the grounds, the lesson planning, and getting the studio set up.

Boyden Studio

Once class got started, it was a whirlwind of activity. I started each morning with a warm up exercise, and then moved into teaching techniques. Students were given lots of time to practice and play – and they all jumped in with a fearless enthusiasm.


This routine was repeated for four days and it was a blur of heightened energy, creativity, and beautiful results.


On the fourth day, we worked in the morning, and then cleaned up in preparation for our sharing and wrap up.


During our class, I did warm ups along with students and also illustrated how working in a visual journal can be great inspiration for creating paintings.

I’m already excited for my next class, August 22-25.

Daily Art Practice: Visual Painting Journal – Newest Pages

I started doing a daily painting in my visual journal on January 1st and believe it or not, I’ve stuck with it. I got a little behind over the past couple of weeks, but I’ve been slowly doubling down on my daily paintings and I’m almost caught up. I did my first post about this project on January 25 and then an update on March 27. In both of my previous posts, I shared a selection of daily paintings from my journals (I’m on journal number 3). I figured it was time I did another update and share more paintings. Going through the pages of my journals, I am reminded why I’m incorporating this practice into my daily schedule: 1) It gets me into the studio, and 2) I’m experimenting with composition, colors, and ideas. All very good things.

March 25, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 1, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 3, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 4, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 7, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

100th Painting!
April 10, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 17, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 20, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 21, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 22, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 23, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 27, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

April 29, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 1, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 3, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 5, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 9, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 10, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 15, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 16, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 18, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 21, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

May 25, 2019
Dayna J. Collins

Nature’s Rhythm: Featuring Barbara Bassett & Dayna Collins

Last November, I was invited by Barbara Bassett to do a show with her at her gallery, Barbara Basset Art Gallery, located at Pudding River Wine Cellars. I’ve long admired Barbara’s work and love the setting of her gallery, so I said yes.


We got together several months ago to plan for our show and come up with a title; we both liked Nature’s Rhythm, as it gave us freedom to create in our own styles.

I wrote a quick blurb about my pieces:

Color is an overriding theme in Dayna’s work. Whether she is painting abstract landscapes or creating more nonrepresentational work, color always finds its way into her paintings, mimicking or exaggerating nature’s wild palette. 

We hung our show last week with the help of Sean, the owner and winemaker at Pudding River Wine Cellars.

Barbara worked big, I did a series of 12×12 inch pieces.

We got the show hung quickly, and then we did a timed selfie.

Some of the pieces I will have in the show:

“The Thread of a Path,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

“Spellbound By Thoughts,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

“Grateful For the Silence of the River,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

“A River of Gratitude,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

“A Silver Curtain of Rain,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

“The Hum of Mosquitoes,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

“A Pulsing Wave of Gratitude,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

“The Light Glimmers On,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 12×12 inches.

The opening reception is Wednesday, May 22, 4:00 – 6:00 pm. The Pudding River Wine Cellars and Barbara Bassett Art Gallery are just a ten-minute drive from from Silverton and 15-minutes from Salem, through the beautiful countryside. The show will be up for several months, so if you can’t make the opening, take a short drive and visit this beautiful winery and gallery.

Uncorked Live: The Story of How I Came to be the Featured Artist

A few months ago I was contacted by Mary Lou Zeek, an artist and art force in Oregon, asking if I would be interested in being the featured artist for the Family Building Blocks annual fundraiser, Uncorked Live. I was familiar with Family Building Blocks and I knew they did excellent work in our community; their motto is: Keeping Children Safe and Families Together. I did a little research on their annual auction and in pretty short order told Mary Lou I was definitely interested and to please put me in contact with the Uncorked organizer.

I had been working on three new large paintings (30×40 inches) and I thought any one of them might be a possibility. I was also working on a fourth painting (36×36 inches), that was coming along. A date was set of April 1st to decide on a painting. Because I have lots of work hanging in my house, it was decided that a committee would come to my house and select a painting.

The group walked through my house: upstairs, main floor, and downstairs, looking at their options. They settled on three possibilities, and my husband lugged each of them outside so they could be viewed in the best light. The three options included:

“Morning Clouds Giving Way to Sunshine,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 30×60 inches.


“It Smelled Like the End of Summer,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 30×40 inches


“Against a Cloud Lit Night,” plaster, oil, and cold wax, 36×36 inches.

The ladies whittled it down to two selections and asked me to choose as they wanted me to select the one that best represented me. I chose Against A Cloud Lit Night because it was my most recent painting, but also because I had painted it with the auction in mind.

The painting was delivered to the photographer the first week of April, photographed and then returned to me to finish drying until the auction in mid May. Last week the painting was delivered to Zenith Vineyard, where the auction was being held.

The perks of being the featured artist for this prestigious event was having my art featured on the cover of the auction catalog and for my art to be on the wine labels of the bottles of wine, which were given to everyone in attendance. What I didn’t know was that my art would be etched onto a jeroboam of wine (a jeroboam is equivalent to six standard 750 ml bottles – who knew there was such a thing!). The etched label was gorgeous and even had texture.

Patrice Altenhofen, Executive Director of Family Building Blocks, holding the jeroboam of wine.

Uncorked Live was held last Saturday night, May 18th. It was a surreal evening; seeing my art on display, then being handed an auction catalog with my art featured on the front. Everyone in attendance received a bottle of red wine or sparkling chardonnay, both with my art on the label.

Two people asked for my autograph, first on the cover of the  catalog, and then later to sign a bottle of wine.

What a thrill.

I was anxious leading up to the actual auction, fearful that no one would bid on my piece. My painting was the fifth on the line up . . . .


. . . and it sold for $3,500. I later learned that two jeroboams of wine had sold for $850 each and one of the bottles was purchased by the owner of a vineyard who wanted it on display at her vineyard for the art rather than for the wine.

I was happy to have helped raise over $5,000 for this wonderful organization keeping children safe and families together.

Salvage Collages: In a tiny handmade journal

At a recent art retreat with the Salem Art Group on the Oregon Coast, Bonnie brought everyone a small handmade blank journal to fill as we chose. I think this is the fourth (or fifth?) journal Bonnie has provided as we have retreated together over the years. I filled the pages of this little journal with scraps from deconstructed books. (I brought tons of material to work on collages mounted onto worn and well used book boards, so I had plenty of random and leftover fodder to create a tiny journal of Salvage Collages.)

Front cover of my tiny Salvage Collage journal.

A random selection of my pages.

Back cover of my Salvage Collage journal.

I plan to use these pages as inspiration for future Salvage Collages mounted on discarded book boards.


Salem Art Group: Spring Beach Retreat

The Salem Art Group now has ten members, the most we have ever had, but when just the right people appeared, we couldn’t say no. Twice a year our group retreats: in the spring we head to the Oregon coast, and in the summer, we head east to a cabin on the Metolius River. With ten members, we have to get a bit more creative with sleeping arrangements, but somehow we manage. A couple of weeks ago we found our way to Culver City, just south of Lincoln City, and on the Siletz Bay.

We all set up stations and worked on whatever we wanted.

Afternoon walks often occur, either in groups or on solo adventures.

We each bring our own breakfast and lunch, but every night we go out for a nice dinner. The first night we veered a little off of our formula and had dinner at a bowling alley, but it was a cool place with an unusually tasty menu. Of course, we reserved two lanes and bowled. No one had bowled for years, including myself, but somehow I managed to bowl an impressive 158!

During our days, I worked on a series of Salvage Collages on book boards, using pieces and parts of deconstructed vintage discarded books to create the collages.

We’re already counting down the days for our next retreat.





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