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:


Janet’s Old Cedar Chest

I walked right by the old chest dozens of times over the years. Most likely it had things stacked on top of it and I never realized what was holding up all the stacks of magazines and old boxes. About a year ago, my father-in-law had a stroke and while he was recuperating in a rehab facility, Howard and I went to the basement of Howard’s childhood home in NE Portland. We’d been downstairs many times over the past forty years, but usually just to drop some stuff off for storage. This time, the chest caught my eye, probably because there was nothing stacked on top of it. I lifted the lid and my breath caught; it was filled with things Howard’s mom had saved. Janet passed away 13 years ago, but even all the years she was alive, we never realized she had saved her treasures in this old trunk. I didn’t pull much out, other than a few things on the top, but quickly realized this was an excavation to be savored.

Several months ago when our adult kids were home, we visited Grandpa Tom. I pulled Howard aside and said, “I’d sure like to get that old chest loaded into the car while we have healthy backs to help carry it up the stairs.” Howard told his dad we were taking the chest and lickety split it was in the car. We got it home and put it in the garage. For some reason I didn’t immediately tear into it. I wanted to wait for the right time, when I could enjoy the process of peeling back the layers.

That day happened a couple months ago when my friend Tory had dropped me off after one of our outings. She knew I had the chest, she wasn’t in a hurry, and it felt like the right time. We slowly began to remove the pieces that were important to Janet. A wedding dress that belonged to Janet’s mother, bundles of letters, an old shower curtain(!), baby outfits, photographs, newspaper clippings . . . . the detritus of a life well-lived.

As we neared the bottom of the chest, I spied a pair of eyes peeking out of loosely bound tissue paper. Could it be? Janet’s childhood doll? I could barely contain myself. I was so excited, I just climbed right into the chest and unwrapped the doll. She was stuffed with straw and had no hair and marked the perfect ending to a chest full of clues of how Janet lived and loved.

Later, after leisurely going through the stacks of ephemera, Howard pulled out what he wanted to keep and I took what was left to my art studio at Mission Mill to use in my mixed media project, What’s Your Story: Real or Imagined.

Up, Down, and All Around

I am working on three different projects right now, in three different studios. Come on, I’ll take you on a quick tour.

This is a look at my second floor studio located at the Willamette Heritage Center and part of The Art Studios at Mission Mill. I have converted my studio from an all purpose space to an area devoted to working on my What’s Your Story mixed media/collage project.

Here’s a sample of my project.


At my central Salem home, I use the basement of my 1926 house as my assemblage studio. Currently, I’m putting the finishing touches on a piece for the Salem Reads: One Book, One Community Project. Salem is hosting their first ever community reads event and several artists were invited to create a piece of art in response to the book Spare Parts.

My piece, Everything Accounted For, will be hung in the Salem Library Spare Parts art exhibit at the end of this month. I’ll share my completed piece once I have put the finishing touches on it.

Finally, my painting studio is in a big airy space upstairs at my house. Right now, I’m immersed in oil and cold wax in preparation for two upcoming shows in 2017.

Here’s a piece I’ve been working on this week for my Waterlines show at Guardino Gallery in May.


I’ll be sharing more about all of these projects in the future.


Art After Dark Open Studios: January 12

Our December Art After Dark was cancelled last month due to snow and ice, so I’m happy to announce that it has been rescheduled for Thursday, January 12, 2017, 5-7 pm. The artists at the Art Studios at Mission Mill voted to go to quarterly Open Studios, so please join us as our next event won’t be for a few months. As you can see from the flier, we have a full line up of art and activities on the first and second floors.

In my studio (Studio A), I’ll be sharing the progress I’ve made with my newest mixed media project: What’s Your Story – Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Black and White Photos.

And as always, there will be appetizers and drinks being served in all of the open studios.

I’m excited to announce a new website!

It has been in the works since last summer and it is finally here: my new website. I am kind of over the moon excited for the clean, new look. I am grateful to Phil Webb of Dial A Tech who met with me frequently to discuss my ideas and then to figure out how to make it all work. The website went live about a week ago, but we’ve been working out little bugs since then. As of today, it has officially been launched. Phil was able to transfer all of my previous blog posts as well as my earlier archived posts beginning in 2009. This will be my ninth year of blogging.


My website is meant to be an introduction to who I am and the type of work I do and it will be periodically updated. However, this blog and my various social media sites are where I will be posting the most current content as far as my ever evolving art. If you’re interested in what I’m working on, where I’ll be teaching, and what shows I’m participating in, please subscribe to my blog, and follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.


Thank you for your continued support of the arts.


Big News: I’m teaching oil and cold wax at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology!

I began painting about 12 years ago, primarily in acrylic and occasionally in some form of mixed media. In 2012 I took a class that changed my painting life. The class was Abstract Oil Painting with Oil and Cold with Allen Cox and the class was held at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. It wasn’t my first class there, but it was when I learned to paint using cold wax medium, Galkyd, and oil paint, all mixed together into a glorious luminous concoction that was spread using palette and putty knives. It was also the first time I really figured out how to use oil paint sticks. I was hooked.


Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. It is a magical place located in the woods at Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast. This explains what Sitka is about:
Founded in 1970, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology fosters creativity, intellectual inquiry and education. By helping others discover more about their core creative selves and their connections to nature, the Sitka Center works to fulfill its mission of expanding the relationships between art, nature and humanity.

The Sitka Center offers workshops, residencies and community events, while maintaining a facility appropriate to its needs in harmony with its inspirational coastal environment near Cascade Head and the Salmon River estuary. Literally a center at the edge – where land meets sky, saltwater meets freshwater – the Sitka Center is a place where a diverse group of people and ideas converge, co-mingle and depart transformed.

Our Workshop Program (May through September) provides people of all levels the transformative and joyful experience of making art and exploring their connections to nature. We offer over 100 one- to five-day intensives on drawing, painting, music, nature, woodworking, encaustics, food, sculpture, fiber arts, kayaking, jewelry, metal work, photography, printmaking, and writing. Professional artists and ecology experts guide the instruction in one of the Center’s five studios or outdoors in the natural environment of Cascade Head and Salmon River estuary. The annual workshop catalog is available in print and online in February each year.


Which leads me to the heart of my news: I’m teaching an oil and cold wax class at Sitka next summer! Pinch me. It has been a dream for a long time. I’ve taken some amazing classes at Sitka, had fabulous teachers, hiked to the top of Cascade Head, roamed in the woods surrounding the Center, and made art that is hanging in several homes.

My class is called Abstracted Waterlines in Oil and Cold Wax. In determining the theme for my class, I wanted to incorporate the landscape as inspiration, so using the ocean, river, and estuary as a jumping off point, we will take where water meets land and abstract it into a series of compositions.

The class is scheduled for June 5-8 (four full days) and will be held in Boyden. Pinch me again. I’ve taken all of my classes in that large wood lined studio and to have the privilege to teach in that sacred place, well, I’m a bit verklempt. The cost for the four-day class is $400, with a materials fee of $20 (I bring and share a lot of supplies).

Registration doesn’t open until February, 2017, (February for members, but you can join for as little as $50 and have the opportunity to register in February), and registration for everyone opens in March (the Sitka website has all of the dates listed). The dates of my class (June 5-8, 2017) have now been confirmed.

In the class we’ll be working on several boards at the same time, along with working on Arches Oil Paper (or if you prefer, you can work exclusively on the miracle known as Arches Oil Paper). We will experiment with working in layers, building texture, scraping away, and then doing it all over again.

We will work intuitively and abstractly, exploring texture, layers, composition and design, and use of color through oil paint and pigment sticks. We’ll also work with various forms of mark-making, adding energy and interest through the use of lines and marks. The layers dry quickly and clean up is done with baby or mineral oil. You will complete several pieces during the four days and go home with several starts. The class is designed for all levels of expertise and no prior experience is needed.

I’m sharing all of this now so you have time to mark your calendars, maybe ask for the class as a holiday gift, or perhaps get a couple of friends rounded up to rent a house in Lincoln City, Pacific City, or one of the vacation homes right at Cascade Head.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the class, mediums, or the process. My e-mail is: dayna@alleyartstudio.com

What’s Your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Black & White Photos


I’m excited to share a project that I’ve been working on for many months. Someone recently asked me where the idea came from and I realized it has actually been in the works for years. I told them:  It has been inside me for a long time and most of my mixed media art has  been leading up to this special project, although I didn’t know it at the time.


It was 2007 when I created a class called Itty Bitty Pretties. It involved creating little tiny mini collages on 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 inch squares: a background, a cut out black and white photograph, a word,  and finally, an assemblage piece; each one represented a different family member.  Here is 64.


It has been inside me for a long time and most of my mixed media art has been leading up to this special project, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Jump ahead to 2012, when I started creating mixed media collages on playing and flash cards. During the summer of that year I lived on a boat at the Portland Waterfront for 29 days; I created a card for each day I was there.



In the fall of 2015, I made a travel journal in the style of my current project, creating about 60 pre painted pages, which I embellished throughout the 40 days I was gone.




At the beginning of this year, I started to lay the framework for an idea to take all of these past projects and incorporate them into a new one. It gets a bit blurry about the timing. I remember working on page backgrounds when we went to Arizona in February, where I slathered paint and created texture using plaster and gesso, always writing and embedding text into the wet paint and over the dry plaster.





what-is-your-story-6I remember returning to my studio and beginning the process of gathering textiles, ephemera, and little found objects to eventually incorporate into my collage pieces. I also began gathering dozens of black and white photographs, mostly of strangers.


april-2016-2In May of this year, I went on an art retreat with my Portland Art Collective, where I spent three days composing and auditioning layouts.






After returning from the retreat, I continued building my collages and gave them a name, What’s your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Black & White Photos. My collection of ephemera expanded, as did my obsession with black and white photographs.




I continued building my collages and gave them a name, What’s your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Black & White Photos. My collection of ephemera expanded, as did my obsession with black and white photographs.






november-7These are a sampling of my mixed media collages and all are a work in progress. When I’m at my studio, I am continually digging through my bits and auditioning that one more thing to add another layer of interest and mystery.

november-13My plan is to continue working on these pages and in the fall of 2017, I’ll be offering a workshop at Salem Art Association’s Art Annex in conjunction with a collaborative history project, which is in the works.








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