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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.





Show and Tell: Salem Art Group in Conversation – Part II

Salem Art Group: Bonnie, Susan, Katy, Kay, Nancy, Kathy, and Dayna (Tory not in photo).

On Wednesday, May 16, the Salem Art Group held an informal reception at the Art Annex, inviting guests to stop by for a visit from 10 am – 2 pm and join in a conversation. Here’s what the promotional materials said about our group and the goal of our show:

Each month a group of eight Salem artists meets to talk about their work and exchange ideas. Over the years the “personnel” has changed but the core purpose has remained the same: support of creative work in a changing world. The group supplies each other with honest critiques, new ideas, reading and visuals in support of ideas, information about media and techniques, and moral support. They attend each other’s openings, they collect each other’s work,  and they occasionally make work together. This exhibit will allow the artists to show the work they do, and for the public to see their serious work, as well as the fun that is part of Salem Art Group.  Incidentally all eight artists are women: Tory Brokenshire, Dayna Collins, Nancy Eng, Bonnie Hull, Susan Napack, Kathy Shen, Katy Vigeland, and Kay Worthington.

The Annex was a hub of activity for the entire four hours.

During the reception we saved a wall for an interactive, spontaneous project.

We each contributed five art prompts, which were put into a bowl. We took turns drawing a prompt, and doing what we were instructed to do. Prompts included: Draw a shadow; create a diagonal trail; hang it up; draw a shape within a shape, within a shape, within a shape; color an emotion, and home.


Show and Tell: Salem Art Group in Conversation runs through May 31 at the Salem Art Association Art Annex.


Show and Tell: Salem Art Group in Conversation – Part I


My friend Tory and I talked about forming an art group for quite awhile and pulled the trigger in March of 2011. We sent an invitation to six artists, asking if they would be interested in a monthly outing where everyone would meet at a prearranged destination to sketch, journal, paint, take photos, or just sit — hopefully a cup of coffee or tea would be involved. Our first outing was to Mt. Angel Abbey, where the day was spent exploring the campus and visiting the Rare Book Room.

We decided early on that we wanted to limit the size of the group to eight members, ten at the most, so we would remain small enough to take field trips and schedule weekend art retreats. At first, we tried being official and organized, keeping minutes from meetings, setting up attendance requirements, and even coming up with a mission statement (Tightly knit group committed to support, friendship, community and art). Most of those things fell by the wayside as no one wanted to be encumbered by unnecessary administrative tasks.

Though the membership has changed over the years, the current group of eight, whose work is shown here, remains engaged in their personal art practices and supportive of each other as group members…and they have a lot of fun.

Our group was invited to create an exhibit at the Salem Art Association Art Annex that showcased our individual talents, but also celebrated being a member of an art group, something that united us. The result:

At the entrance to the show, is a wall of studio photos, highlighting our personal spaces.

The exhibit space is divided into walls featuring our art.

Bonnie Hull.


Kathy Shen.


Kay Worthington house sculpture and wall quilt.


Susan Napack.


Katy Vigland.


Nancy and Kathy’s work on the wall, sculpture by Tory Brokenshire.


Kay Worthington.


Dayna J. Collins.

The piece I submitted, Singed by Fire and Light, was from my Evoke show at Guardino Gallery in 2015, and represented my recovery journey since 2000. It has been hanging at my husband’s office, so it was nice to have it back hanging in public view.

This show was perfectly timed to celebrate our current crew of eight women, as Kathy Shen, one of our original members, is moving this summer. During this time of transition, we have invited three new members. To save you from doing math, here it is: We have eight, one is leaving, three are joining = ten.

New SAG Members: Jessica Ramey, Elizabeth Bauman, and Lucy Hewitt.

Next up, a post about our reception, which was held on May 16th.



Salvage Collage: “Making Abstract Art From Discarded Books”

Day 5: Final critiques.


How do I put into words my experience earlier this month. Imagine spending five days with artists who all love ripping apart old books. Fold in an instructor with mad teaching skills. It didn’t hurt that the class was held in the center of Whidbey Island at the Pacific Northwest Art School. The class was titled Making Abstract Art from Discarded Books and the instructor was Sante Fe book artist, Melinda Tidwell.

In the spirit of using few words, I’ll share a series of photos with captions in my attempt to convey how I spent my week and some of the work I created.

Pile of scavenged book pieces.

Melinda organizing piles of book bits.

Book bits divided by color.

More bits divided by color.

Auditioning book bits.

Auditioning pieces for a possible composition.

Work table.

Working on a grid format.

Grid in progress.

“A Shattered Sense of Normality,” by Dayna J. Collins.

Morning session.

Strata in progress.

“Wild Revelry,” by Dayna J. Collins

Altering and painting book pages.

Painted book pages.

Painted book page.

Painted book page.

Auditioning and gluing pieces.

“The Dim Veil of Sleep,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Looking Backward in Time,” by Dayna J. Collins.

“Laughing with Genuine Pleasure,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Rebellious Tendencies 1 and 2,” by Dayna J. Collins

“Occasional Flashes of Kitsch,” by Dayna J. Collins.

“Deep Urgent Conversations,” by Dayna J. Collins.

“A Truth Profound and Simple,” by Dayna J. Collins.

“A series of Small Coincidences,” by Dayna J. Collins.

“The Possibility of Change,” by Dayna J. Collins.

“The Pale Thin Light,” by Dayna J. Collins.

This pieces I created in this class fit nicely with my What’s Your Story project as well as my Salvage Collage pieces. Now I’m ready to start doing a better job of ripping apart my vintage books.

Melinda and Dayna.

Fun House mirror.

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: dayna@alleyartstudio.com

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


April Open Studios

Once a quarter, on the second Thursday of the month, Studios at the Mill host Art After Dark where we fling open our doors, serve refreshments, and celebrate the arts in our neck of the woods.

We are located on the second floor of the Wool Warehouse at the Willamette Heritage Center, which is across the street from both the Amtrak station and Willamette University, in the heart of Salem. We have 10 artists and everyone opened their door on the evening of April 12th. My studio is located in the NW corner, overlooking the Mill Stream, which runs through the WHC campus. Here’s one of my windows looking up from the outside.

I use my studio at the Mill for special projects since my painting studio is at my home. I love having a space devoted to working with paper, ephemera, book covers, black and white photos, and scraps . . . . all of which I call Salvage Collage.

Of course, I spruced up my space for this quarterly event. It is ever evolving and I love moving things around, touching everything, hanging things, and getting side tracked auditioning various pieces for ongoing projects. Here are photos of my spiffed up studio:



It is always more fun when people are added to the mix.

Our next Art After Dark is Thursday, July 12, 6-8 pm. If you’d like to be added to our studio newsletter e-mailing list, please send me your e-mail address: dayna@alleyartstudio.com

The Gift of Art

My mom died suddenly on March 13 after a brief illness. She passed on her own terms, peacefully and after saying goodbye to family and friends. I felt lost and sad. I found myself in my studio a few days after her passing, mixing oil paint with cold wax, and beginning to find my way back to myself.

About a week ago, a friend contacted me and said she was unable to attend a workshop in Portland and wanted to gift me her place in the class as she felt it would be a healing place for me to be. I met Kathleen two years ago on a cruise to South America and we hit it off. We were both artists, so we had endless conversations about creativity and various mediums, and in one South American port (neither of us remember where we were), we spent the day walking, talking, and taking photographs. We stayed in contact and became even better friends.

At first I felt mixed about taking the three-day class, then I realized it was exactly what I needed. Kathleen knew.

The class was taught by Serena Barton, an artist I have known for several years and always loved her work. I told Kathleen I would be honored to take her place and I packed my bags for the three-day class in Portland. I’ve worked in oil and cold wax for several years and have taught it myself, but I put on my student hat and just showed up, ready to immerse myself into the process.

Serena is an excellent teacher, and her methods are wild and free. I love this photo of her demo space.

I started slowly, just laying down paint, with the idea of working looser and wilder than my usual careful self. I painted so many things, all of which got covered over and transformed by the third and final day. These are all starts, none of which remain.


I learned some new things, like applying India ink as the first layer, which I transformed so much, none of the India ink even shows, but I know that initial bold mark making is in there somewhere.

Studio views of the class.

Studio views of the space.


Here are the pieces I completed (or are in process).

Parting shot.

Thank you Serena, for three great days of art-making, and thank you, Kathleen, for your generosity and friendship.

If anyone had ever told me I would get to the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market . . . .

. . . . I would not have believed them. But it happened last Sunday.


We were on vacation in Los Angles last week to see an uncle, visit museums, art galleries, and just do some general tromping about. The sites we wanted to visit were divided by neighborhoods to minimize the time spent in the car. On a whim, right before we left for the airport, I googled “flea markets.” The Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market, of course, popped up. It is held one Sunday of the month. Guess which Sunday it was being held? (Insert gasping and hyperventilating.)

We arrived early (they have different entrance times and prices, we were there by 8:00 am), got our bearings, and set off for the Orange Area: Antiques and Collectibles. This was important because there are 2,500 booths, so we needed to narrow our focus.

My focus for the market was black and white photos, paper debris, and any sort of ephemera; I rounded up a smattering of everything.But the mother lode was a scrapbook I saw, walked away, then had to go back and purchase.

The scrapbook belonged to Virginia Anita Bugg, and chronicled her early 1930s high school experience on through getting engaged and married. The scrapbook was crammed and crumbly, so when I got home I carefully deconstructed each page into categories: letters, photos, gum wrappers, menus, ticket stubs, dance cards . . . . I even discovered a smashed celluloid doll toward the back. Take a look:

The deconstruction:

I’ve already integrated the pieces into my studio and I’m looking forward to creating new lives with the remnants of Virginia’s life.

Back to the Flea Market, some photos of roaming about.

And the rest of my bounty:


What’s Your Story: Back-to-Back Workshops

Last October, I taught a one-day workshop titled What’s Your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Black and White Photos. It was very successful and I had several artists tell me they wanted to take it if I offered again. I decided to turn the one-day workshop into two days and to hold it at The Art Studios at Mission Mill, where I have a studio.

I limited the class size to four participants so we would have plenty of room to move around in the smallish classroom. Both workshops filled quickly as I contacted everyone who had mentioned they were interested.

The two workshops were a blur of energy and activity. Rather than try and share the individual workshops, I’m just going to post a series of photos which represent the frenzy of creativity that took place the last two weekends of January.

On our first day, everyone created a series of backgrounds using acrylic paint, a variety of pencils, inks, plaster, and stains. On day two, mixed media collages were created using vintage letters, envelopes, and ephemera, and then a black and white photograph was added – either the photo of a stranger from my stash, or a photo of a relative, brought by the student.

Show and tell. Just a sampling of the collages created over the two weekends.


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