Gracia Dayton, a Lexington, MA resident, received her B.S. in Art Education from Skidmore College, and has since received degrees from many schools, including the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco State University, Boston University, DeCordova Museum School, and Bennington College.
Dayton works in various media, from watercolor to collage to a mixed media, depicting landscapes and scenes incorporating elements of her life, journeys, and interests. Unlike many artists, Dayton’s watercolors begin without an underdrawing, which allows Dayton to fully explore freedom of movement. Referencing photographs for their patterns, Dayton then masks the white areas for the birch trunks, and applies her watercolors with virtuosic control. Vivian Raynor, of The New York Times, celebrates Dayton as “the chromatic champion with paintings and monotypes rich in saturated reds and blazing yellows as well as blues and greens. Each picture is a tour de force: patterned, stippled, laid on horizontal bands or applied to a wet ground in rhythmic strokes.” Her symphony of colors blend and bleed, contrasting the stark outlines of the birch. Her landscapes waver between abstract and recognizable, simultaneously soothing in their repetitiveness and stimulating in their vibrant, intense colors. Inspired by changes in weather, her paintings emit a radiance, a warmth, a heat. Using large, calligraphic brushstrokes, her watercolors are complete with a few strokes, even integrating the watercolor paper into the painting as patches of white. In addition to her watercolor landscapes, Dayton transcends this genre with her mixed media—bold images inspired by signs and symbols seen on her travels. In these smaller paintings on panel, the color dominates and gesture overrides precision. The image appears from large dabs of paint, sporadic and simplified yet delicately applied. Additionally, the image becomes three-dimensional and tactile with grooved layers of gel that rise from the panel, allowing the paint to undulate in the ridges. In a third style, Dayton’s collages merge texture, color, material, and pattern into a vibrant entity. The works are symbolic and personal, expressive and complex. In each of these three styles, Dayton imbues the self into the work of art, as a traveled, intelligent, confident artist.
"Each series of work I do invariably relates to a place I have recently visited. Landscapes, colors, shapes, and symbols are the sources I draw upon for inspiration from my travels. I usually start a series with direct landscapes in watercolor or acrylic, and then more to collages and mixed media. The challenge is always to create pieces that are less literal and exciting to me in color, composition and materials.”
Gracia's work has been shown extensively in both group and solo exhibitions throughout New England. She has also been commissioned for work by Coca-Cola, The Bostonian Hotel, and The Sheraton Hotel in Atlanta.