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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.


What’s Your Story: Open Studios Mini Workshop

Once a quarter, The Art Studios at Mission Mill, host Art After Dark/Open Studios. Our most recent event was January 11th. I was the featured artist in the studio gallery/classroom and I decided in addition to hanging some of my recent work, I would offer a mini workshop on creating a modified What’s Your Story mixed media collage. I set up some of the walls in the gallery as teaching walls. One wall told the history of the project, another showed samples of possible backgrounds, and then one wall showed the progression from blank 140 lb. watercolor paper to finished mixed media collages. (The other two walls were my most recent work using old, defaced books, but I’ll share those pieces in a separate post.)

I created three small sample collages, done using original letters, envelopes, and an assortment of ephemera, along with photocopies of black and white photographs.

With my guidance, guests were invited to create a little mixed media collage.

All ages participated, and Alex sat and read old letters to us during the evening.

Of course, sometimes the adults found it difficult to resist reading the letters.

Some of the collages created during the evening event.

All of this was a great set up and preparation for last weekend, when I taught the first of my two-day full length What’s Your Story, Real of Imagined workshop. I’ll be doing a post about my workshops in the coming days.




2017 Was a Wild Ride!

The past year has been the most exciting and exhilarating of my art career. It all stared in the fall of 2016 when I told people, I have nothing major on my calendar for the upcoming year. I plan to just play and explore. And then everything changed . . . .

I’ve blogged about most of these events, but here is an abbreviated summary of my 2017 art life.

Spare Parts Show at the Salem Public Library


Art Featured in New Book: Cold Wax Medium

Solo Show at Guardino Gallery: Waterlines

Salem Art Association Mentorship Program

Taught an Oil and Cold Wax Class at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology

Private Master Class with Pat Wheeler

Two Person Show at Borland Gallery

11th Annual Day of the Dead Show at Guardino Gallery

Artist in Residence at the Salem Art Association Art Annex

Salem Art Association Panel Discussion

What’s Your Story Workshop

Symbols Show at the Art Annex

Guest on KMUZ Talking About Art

Sitka Art Invitational

17th Annual Guardino Gallery Little Things Show

BEST IN SHOW Something Red Art Walk

It was a great year. And I’m not making any proclamations about 2018. Mum’s the word.

Best in Show!

The 15th annual Something Red Show and Art Walk, sponsored by our local art group, Artists in Action, kicked off on Wednesday night. Artists were invited to submit two pieces of art featuring the color red, which were then juried and placed in locations around downtown Salem. Maps were provided so people were able to take a self-guided art walk to see the 100 entries. The jurors for this year’s show were: David Wilson (Gallery Director at the Bush Barn Art Center, Salem Art Association), Mary Lou Zeek (Gallery Owner and Art Consultant), and Thomas Rudd (Professional Artist/Sculptor and Gallery Curator). One of my pieces was chosen by the owner of Wild Pear Restaurant and the other piece was placed at Elsinore Framing and Fine Art Gallery.

Wednesday night was chilly, but clear and dry, so we bundled up and did the art walk. We found Filaments of Memory in the window of Wild Pear Restaurant, and slipped inside for a photo.

We continued on the walk, ending up at the Elsinore Gallery and Frame Shop, where my other piece, A Seasonal Echo, was hanging with other entries in the special exhibits gallery.

The awards ceremony took place at 7:30 and the room was packed with members and guests. Awards were given for several Bests: Use of Red, Digital, Photography, 3D, 2D, Youth, as well as two Honorable Mentions and two Juror’s Choice. I didn’t know how many awards were to be given out, or what the categories were, so as the awards ceremony was coming to an end, it was announced they would  give out the final award, Best in Show. When my name was called, I was so shocked, I didn’t comprehend that I had won. In additional to a big, beautiful ribbon, I received an award of $100! I had no idea there was money involved.

When Howard I left for the evening, we walked back over to Wild Pear Restaurant, so I could stand in front of the window with my Best in Show ribbon.

“Filaments of Memory,” 24×24, plaster, oil, and cold wax, from my Evoke Series, by Dayna J. Collins.

What’s Your Story: Artist in Residence Concludes

My month long Artist in Residence  (AIR) at the Salem Art Association’s Art Annex, ended on November 22. I moved into my temporary studio on October 24th (and blogged about it on October 25th and again on October 31st). It was a busy and exciting month of creating a series of mixed media collages on watercolor paper, as well as pushing myself into some new territory.

Where I hung out for a month, located in the middle of Bush’s Pasture Park.


Welcome to my studio . . . .



During my Artist in Residence, I had open studio hours and loved having visitors.

A page from my guest book.


Stephanie and Tory stopped for a visit; Jim and Jo Hockenhull were frequent visitors and brought their nephew.


Visitors to the Annex stopped to check out my project.


Cynthia worked on collages she started in my earlier workshop. Howard stopped by to wire some of my art.


Irene enjoyed looking at my old photos.


Nic (Dave) and Sloy (Sandra) stopped for a visit.

I completed an expansive body of work. Here are ten of my completed mixed media collages, all created using black and white photos of strangers.


For those curious about what the day-to-day experience of my AIR was like, I’m sharing some of my journal entries and corresponding photographs.

Wednesday, October 25: First official day of AIR. Fine tuning my set up. Brought in another table, also a comfortable roller chair. I will finalize my class packets today, hang sample collages, and hopefully get started on sample technique cards: paint, plaster, transfer, inks . . . .


Wednesday, November 1: Ready to settle in to do my own work, but first I need to finish putting things away from Saturday’s workshop and put away my bounty from Sunday’s antique EXPO. Of course, all my stuff makes me reevaluate how I have things organized, but I get joy from organizing it and I am continually inspired and come up with new ideas.

Wednesday, November 3: My brain is full and bursting with ideas. I try and jot notes as ideas form and then transfer the ideas into my journal. TAKE AWAY: Dedicated daily studio time is essential for spinning off new ideas and to create a body of work. Yesterday I worked with transfers and backgrounds. I will continue with that thread. Also, wood. I am moving away from paper and toward wood.

Wednesday, November 8: A full day ahead, as many hours as I want or need. Continuing to work on wood pieces, especially the crate pieces. I must tackle the center of the wood pieces; stymied by the transfer image I put in the middle. I need to build a surface. Color? Plaster? Original style: collage on complex background? Or grid using papers, and then unified by collage (simple or complex). Yikes. I’m stuck.

Thursday, November 9: Yesterday was extremely productive and I landed on an idea for the three wood pieces, which gave me focus. Today I will hopefully create three book cover collages (or five . . . .). I will also finish 3-5 collages for my wall in the style of the original pieces. Fun to continue expanding that vision. Not bored with it after all.

Wednesday, November 15: Rainy and I wanted to stay home, tucked inside, but I’m honoring my commitment and I showed up. Puttering with paper collages and getting ready to sand and stain my plastered boards. I’ll begin to lay out book covers, matching a photo with a library check out card – I’ve got some good ones. Counting today, only four more days of my AIR . . . . unless I work this weekend. It’s possible.

Three completed pieces showcasing defaced book covers.


“The Accuracy of Memory,” by Dayna J. Collins.


“Years Bleach Away the Sense of Things,” by Dayna J. Collins.


“The Familiarity of Something,” by Dayna J. Collins.

Tuesday, November 20: Final day of working in the studio. Feeling sad to be leaving. I’ve treated my time here as a job, showing up regularly and moving my projects along, gaining new ideas and insights along the way. Today is a bit about photography – capturing images, more than enough. My friend Stephanie said I was part archivist, part storyteller, part mad scientist. Another quote to post.

My big, beautiful, and expansive inspiration wall.


Wednesday, November 21: Packing up and moving out.

Taking down the last of my inspiration wall.


Packed up and moved out.


I’ve spent the past few days getting settled into Studio A, my space for the past three years at The Art Studios at Mission Mill, located on the second floor of the Wool Warehouse at the Willamette Heritage Center. It feels good to be back and I’ve already been working on my What’s Your Story project.

I’ll end by sharing a quote from my friend, Stephanie Brockway:

I love your alternative history exploration. This speaks to me so loudly, not everyone was important. Some lived quiet lives, with no heirs, lives boxed up, taken to the curbside and scattered to the wind. Taking the broken fragments, detritus, and ephemera is such an act of love and respect… conserving with a twist, the odd elements of the human condition never cease to amaze me, too. I’m hyperventilating about our next archaeological dig and what might be found and discovered.

Sitka Art Invitational

This premier event is taking place this weekend and I am one of the lucky participating artists. I submitted three pieces of art, all loosely related to ecology and nature.

“Magnetic Attraction,” 18 x 18 inches, plaster, oil and cold wax, by Dayna J. Collins.


“The Smell of Salt Lingered in the Air,” 20 x 20 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax, by Dayna J. Collins.


“A Seasonal Echo,” 12 x 42 inches, plaster, oil, and cold wax, by Dayna J. Collins.


Friday night was the opening reception, Party With the Artists. Every inch of the exhibition hall was packed with artists, art lovers, and collectors. There were delicious appetizers, drinks, and live music, and of course, lots of art filling the space.

I don’t know if any of my pieces have sold, I’ll find out later today, but fingers crossed that I won’t be bringing all three pieces back home.


What’s Your Story: Filming, Panel Discussion, and Workshop


Last week my Artist in Residence studio was abuzz with activity. On Thursday, our local television studio interviewed Kathy and Sandra about the one year anniversary of the Art Annex and then interviewed me as the current Artist in Residence.

On Friday night, the Salem Art Association hosted a panel discussion titled, Caring For Personal Objects Through Archiving and Art. The panel consisted of archivists, historians, curators — and then me, who unabashedly uses photos and ephemera in mixed media art pieces. It was a lively and informative discussion. My friend Stephanie wrote me a beautiful note as I prepared for the discussion:

I love your alternative history exploration. This speaks to me so loudly. Not everyone was important, some lived quiet lives, with no heirs, lives boxed up, taken to the curbside and scattered to the wind. Taking the broken fragments, detritus, and ephemera is such an act of love and respect ….conserving with a twist, the odd elements of the human condition never ceases to amaze me.

On Saturday, I arrived at the Art Annex early to set up for my one day workshop. I spent the day with ten artists, sharing my process for creating mixed media photo collages. Some women brought their own family photos, others used my stash of strangers. The day was fast-paced and filled to the brim with laughter, painted fingers, and debris strewn about.


Some amazing art was created and everyone created multiple mixed media pieces; I’m sharing one piece from each of the ten artists who participated in the class.


What’s your story? Real or imagined?




What’s Your Story: Artist in Residence Begins

Back in August of 2016, I was offered an Artist in Residence position at the Salem Art Association’s new Art Annex. Today I moved into my studio space, which I will call home for the next month.Here’s a description of what I’ll be doing:

Artist in Residence/Dayna Collins

October 25-November 24

Dayna Collins is a collector, energized by hunting for worn out and discarded objects, especially the bits and pieces that aren’t perfect. She hyperventilates when she discovers a box of ephemera or an old photo album that someone is throwing away. During her residency, Dayna will bring her vast collection of old letters, photographs, ticket stubs, bits of vintage lace, envelopes, stamps, string, travel brochures, maps, recipes, report cards, random notes – the detritus of a person’s life – and create vignettes that tell a story. Using paper, paint, cardboard, book covers, and plaster, she will give new life to these cast off, expendable objects, exploring storytelling in unexpected ways, beginning with a black and white photograph of a stranger.

Moved into my temporary studio space today at Salem Art Association’s Art Annex.

Dropped my stuff, then figured out where everything should go.


I brought so much stuff!


Utilizing every space, nook, and cranny.


Stacks, piles, and rows.

NOTE: I’ll be in the studio most weekdays and the public is invited to stop by and see what I’m working on. I will be posting on my personal Facebook page the days and times I will be in the Art Annex Studio. I’ll have these posts set to public, so if you’re thinking about visiting, please take a look to see if I’ll be there: Dayna Davidson Collins


In addition to the residency, there are several upcoming events.

Exhibit Reception

Saturday, November 18/4-6 pm/FREE

Symbols are personal. Oftentimes they’re stories that incorporate one’s religious, cultural and familial imagery. These things often prod memories and ideas, bringing to the surface the roots of our ancestry, and other events, times, or places in our lives. This exhibition focuses on artistic interpretations of symbols that are pertinent to family history, holidays or spiritual rituals, heritage and culture.

Participating artists are Dayna Collins, Toni Gilbert, Sarah Dillon Gilmartin, Ann Kresge, Eric Loftin, Susan Napack, Nichole Rose, Jennifer Salzman and Vicky DeKrey Vasey.


Panel Discussion

Friday, October 27/5-7 pm

Please join Ross Sutherland (Bush House Museum), Toni Gilbert (author), Dayna Collins (artist), Kylie Pine (Willamette Heritage Center) and Amber D’Ambrosio (University Archive, Willamette University)  in a conversation about our personal objects, ranging from how to properly care for them using professional methods, examples of how larger organizations approach personal objects,  how we can use some of these methods for our own personal objects and family histories, and how we can utilize our personal and family imagery through art.



Workshop (class is full)

What’s Your Story, Real or Imagined: Telling Stories Through Old Photos

Saturday, October 28/9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Ancestors. We all have them, but do we know their stories. In this class, we’ll build a story based on a black and white photo — real relatives or “adopted” ones. We will create aged backgrounds using paint and stains, then build a collaged vignette using old letters, ephemera, envelopes, lace, tape, trim, string, and a variety of lightweight found objects. Working in a grid, everyone will create a patchwork quilt of stories, which we’ll put together in honor of those who came before us.


In addition to all of this excitement, I’ll be interviewed on Thursday for a local television station and then on Friday, November 10th, I’ll be on Joel Zak’s KMUZ radio show, Talking About Art, sharing about my project and Artist in Residence. More about all of this later.

The view out my window: Bush’s Pasture Park.

Beach Retreat

Twice a year my Salem Art Group goes on an art retreat, one in the mountains along the Metolius River and the other at the Oregon Coast. For October, we were off to Cutler City to stay at a friend’s beach house, which is perched on a small hill with a view of the Siletz Bay. I rode with Tory, and if you’ve followed by blog for any length of time, the photo of my stuff lined up on my patio is familiar.

Six of our eight art group members were able to make our beach retreat.

Starting at the left and around the horn: Katy, Tory, Bonnie, Dayna, Susan, Nancy

In a nutshell, we spent three full days making art. Of course, there were walks, lattes, chatting, a movie on the life of Eva Hesse, reading, laughing, and a bit of sleeping.


New oil and cold wax work by Dayna J. Collins

New oil and cold wax work by Dayna J. Collins

New oil and cold wax work by Dayna J. Collins

In our spare time, we all made a little journal.

Visual Journal by Dayna J. Collins. Created using posters torn off of European walls and layered with family photos.

And then it was time to load up and head home.


Day of the Dead: A Favorite Show

“Everything Accounted For,” by Dayna J. Collins, created December, 2016.

Guardino Gallery is presenting the 11th Annual Day of the Dead Show September 28-October 22nd. I have participated in this invitational group show for more years than I remember and it is one of my favorites. I always create found object art and this year I’m excited to share three special pieces. The inspiration is the assemblage piece I created last December for an invitational show at the Salem Public Library. Everything Accounted For  was created as a response to the book titled Spare Parts, about four Hispanic high school students who entered an underwater robot competition and created their robot using spare parts. After reading the book and thinking about all of my spare parts, I created my piece; it is now hanging in our living room.

For the 2017 Dead of the Dead show I decided to replicate my bigger piece and I created three smaller pieces modeled after my 2016 show piece.

“The Accumulation of Years,” by Dayna J. Collins.


“A Life’s History,” by Dayna J. Collins.


“A Maze of Memories,” by Dayna J. Collins.


When I created my DOTD pieces, I packed them full with a wild assortment of my favorite small bits.

I also created two other assemblage pieces for the Guardino Gallery show.

“The Emptiness of the House,” assemblage piece by Dayna J. Collins.


“Little Need of Conversation,” assemblage piece by Dayna J. Collins.


The opening reception for the show is Thursday, September 28th, 6-9 pm. And it ALWAYS a good party.




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