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Updated: November 16, 2022 @ 9:05 am
Oregon artist Dayna Collins compiles two weeks of journal pages she made during a recent trip. A lover of found art and trash treasures, Collins often uses salvaged items headed for the dump in assemblage art.
Working in oil, cold wax and plaster, Dayna Collins scrapes off layers of a painting to reveal unexpected results. Collins paints intuitively, going into each work without a defined intention of how it will turn out.
Vibrant, abstract paintings are a main focus of work for artist Dayna Collins. She works in layers starting with plaster for texture, covered with bold colorful swaths of oil paint mixed with cold wax.

Oregon artist Dayna Collins compiles two weeks of journal pages she made during a recent trip. A lover of found art and trash treasures, Collins often uses salvaged items headed for the dump in assemblage art.
Working in oil, cold wax and plaster, Dayna Collins scrapes off layers of a painting to reveal unexpected results. Collins paints intuitively, going into each work without a defined intention of how it will turn out.
Vibrant, abstract paintings are a main focus of work for artist Dayna Collins. She works in layers starting with plaster for texture, covered with bold colorful swaths of oil paint mixed with cold wax.
Though she has always been a creative person, Dayna Collins didn’t find her art groove early in life. But her journey to becoming a highly sought-after artist and art instructor is proof that late bloomers often put on the best show.
Collins grew up in Oregon and spent her high school summers in Seal Rock. Just a year after high school, she married her high school sweetheart, Howard. The couple had three children and life was good, but something inside her wasn’t quite right. “I just woke up one day and I was done,” she said. “I went into treatment the next day.”
It was 22 years ago when Collins went into a recovery center for addiction. While in treatment, she did a lot of creative exploration and journaling and went on to become a drug and alcohol counselor herself. About five years into her recovery, she took a 12-week course on creative recovery taught by Julia Cameron, author of the popular self-help book, “The Artist’s Way.” It changed her life.
“It was wonderful because I went to Portland every week, doing assignments, writing pages, and the instructor assigned an art project every week,” said Collins. “I found my creative voice. It just resonated.”
Collins started taking every art class she could find and in 2006 discovered The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, located at Cascade Head. “Sitka is magical,” she said. “I was just giddy with excitement.”
She has always loved junking, going to flea markets and dumpster diving for old rusty metal or wood things, and old vintage books that are headed to the dump. So she started using those trash treasures in her art. “My first art was an assemblage collage on bowling pins. Then a whole new world opened for me and I knew I wanted to paint, explore texture, and experiment with putting bold, vibrant colors together.”
As she continued with art classes, her interest started to narrow. Collins now mostly works in plaster, oil and cold wax. Her vivid colored abstracts are rich, textured surfaces that are uplifting and joyful, much like the artist herself. Dayna’s fiery red hair sets the tone for how she makes her art and lives her life … with energy and intuitiveness.
“I definitely create intuitively,” she said. “I put notes all around my studio. Things like what to do if I get stuck and all kinds of ideas on how to disrupt it. It’s what causes me to have a gasp of delight and takes my breath away. I can’t plan for those things.”
When Collins starts a piece, she grabs colors and papers for collage. She starts covering a board then scrapes it down until she finds that sweet spot. “What I am looking for is something I didn’t expect to find. Some of my favorites were ones that I was pissed off about. I kept adding more paint and paint is expensive. I added spray solvents and scraped. There’s no planning for that. I have to be willing to get out of the way. I both love and hate that process.”
Art is always on her mind even when she isn’t in her studio. “My mind is always working artistically. My house is filled with art. Making art and being around art gives me joy. It’s a seamless integration. From the clothes I wear to coloring my head red, I feel so grateful and get to live this life.”
Collins will be married for 50 years this year to Howard, who is her biggest cheerleader. “He loves art and has taken on a bunch of the business side of work for me,” Collins said. “He wires all my art, keeps inventories, primes boards and makes contacts. It frees up a lot of time to be more creative.”
Sitka, the place that ignited and honed her artistic talents, is now where she teaches others to find their own creativity. For six years, Collins has taught a class in plaster and cold wax and hopes to be selected as an instructor again next summer. “They like to have new artists, but hopefully they’ll keep accepting me. My classes always fill up. The studio there is amazing.”
Collins is reflective about her life and the journey it took to become an artist. “The recovery piece was a huge turning point for me. “The Artist’s Way” was another turning point. They were both paths for me to discover art. I talk about recovery in my art talks. It opened doors for me and Sitka was a big part of that.”
Collins art has been in galleries all over the coast and has an opening reception at Center for the Arts in Manzanita on Oct. 1. Her art is available on her website at www.daynacollins.com and at the following galleries: Guardino Gallery, Portland; RiverSea Gallery, Astoria; Salem on the Edge, Salem; The Independence, a Trace Hotel, Independence; and The Dundee, a Trace Hotel, Dundee. Follow daynalovesart on Instagram for the latest updates.
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