Murals. Printmaking. Graphic design. Illustration. Textiles. All are done extremely well, and by the careful hands of Grand Rapids artist, Dayna Walton (@solsticehandmade). Walton is truly an artist that makes the ordinary extraordinary. Her love and inspiration from nature shine through her designs, whether in murals, textiles, or her illustrations. Her creations often include insects, birds, and woodsy plants. By marrying her knowledge of art and science, Walton feels like she’s able to understand the natural world a little better, and hopes that through her art, others can feel a similar connection.
With such a broad skill set, Walton often finds herself balancing her ideas between the different mediums she uses, giving herself more flexibility in her creativity. Because she has her hands in so many different pools, she gets to work with a wide variety of clients, and will have work year-round as opposed to only during specific seasons.
As Walton talks about her ability to produce work year-round, she tells us this is a part of the meaning behind her shop name, SolsticeHandmade. “It has associations with the sun and seasonality, and I like how nature is built on top of systems and cycles, so it’s kind of a way I can express that process and not pigeonhole myself into one medium.”
Walton’s current interest lies in the textile industry, with a lot of her work available for sale on her website, SOLSTICEHANDMADE.
Many artists work on commission, but when can or should an artist refuse a commission? Walton talks at length about the value an artist should give themselves, and that it’s perfectly fine to say “no” to a commission request. The misconception that artists are always starving and in need of work is still prevalent, and something Walton actively seeks to disprove. She believes that if an artist is doing well, then they don’t need to accept every commission request thrown at them.
Walton knows better than anyone how to connect with clients and create a relationship beyond a transaction. Throughout her interview, she talked at length about her clients, and the reactions they have to her work. While her work does revolve around nature and insects, the work itself has the power to bring nostalgia to its viewers. Walton enjoys seeing the genuine looks of surprise and realization on people’s faces when they first see her illustrations of plants and woodland creatures. She says that “once you start looking, you'll notice how not everything is around all the time, and you start to notice how things come and go with their seasons. It helps you keep track of your experiences that way.”
This year is particularly special, with the cicadas dominating Michigan’s ecosystem. Walton created a print of cicadas in their growth cycle that is incredibly detailed and brings back memories for those that witnessed the cicada apocalypses, 17 years apart from one another.
Those who look upon it get to see each stage of the cicada’s life, drawn in an organic, refreshing style. Walton hopes that those who purchase her art or wear her clothing feel like they’re getting closer to understanding nature and its many complexities.
In addition to her prints and clothing, Walton has ventured into mural work, with some available for viewing right here in Grand Rapids. Her murals tend to include bright and intense colors on a dark background, which is particularly interesting for the style she paints in. Whether she paints neon blue trilobites to life or creates a fantasy-scape for sparkling yellow butterflies, each piece is uniquely breathtaking. All of her mural work can be found in @solsticepaints on Instagram.
Walton has come a long way since she started her art career. She credits her hard work and determination to get better connected with the community as pillars for her ongoing success. See more of Walton’s story and support her art on her Instagram, @solsticehandmade, or her website, SOLSTICEHANDMADE.
See more murals from Walton here: @solsticepaints
See more graphic design work from Walton here: @solstice_design