EDITOR’S NOTE: As I was walking through the galleries, I was inspired by Leo Sewell’s Man, a life-size figure made from found objects. I knew I wanted to feature an independent artist using a similar creative process who deserves more recognition. Enter Hayley Dixon.
Written by Tori Smith, Public Relations and Social Media Intern
Hayley Dixon spends her free time stroking her paintbrushes on paint-by-number pieces, although they aren’t the ones you would normally find in a store.
Dixon studied mathematics in her first year at the University of Oregon, but decided it wasn’t suited for her after her freshman year was complete. She started taking more theater and design classes, and that ended up being her niche during her collegiate career. She was a theater major with a focus in set design and set painting.
Now, Dixon has her own art shop, called Upcycled Thrifter. Dixon finds paintings at thrift stores and upcycles them to include eccentric updates or additions related to pop culture.
Dixon enjoys adding to thrift-store paintings rather than starting from a blank canvas, she said. She is basically creating a painting by numbers and trying to “math it up” utilizing her mathematics knowledge to strategically place her own characters or nuances into the pre-existing painting.
She uses techniques that she learned in the theater department at the University of Oregon.
Dixon also uses those skills in her full-time job as a high school special education teacher. She teaches math to students, but still takes a creative approach to the mathematical process, like having the students create a board game for their budget.
Dixon has an Etsy shop that has reached over 2,400 sales. Dixon also uses events to find the people who might be interested in her work. She recently set up shop at the Portland Gaming Expo.
She started her artistic career as a natural crafter, dabbling in crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching. She stumbled upon upcycled thrift pieces with a friend.
“I saw stuff online of people modifying thrift art,” she said. “My friend suggested we go get some Goodwill stuff and mess it up.”
That started a six-year journey of modifying thrift store art. Dixon hasn’t added to a piece with a fandom that she doesn’t resonate with. The shortest piece took her 2 hours, while the longest took her 12.
“I’m usually looking for something that’s well-taken care of,” she said. “I don’t want something that’s too crowded. It’s harder to deal with photographs because it’s so difficult to get detailed.”
Dixon’s motivation comes from the excitement of other people. She loves attending events where she can connect with the people interested in her art.
Dixon has also dabbled in mural-making. Because she’s a high school teacher, she can only focus herself on large-scale pieces in the summer. Murals usually take at a minimum of three weeks, but the longest took about nine months.
“I just don’t connect with regular art,” she said. “I like what I do. I like that it’s funny and the people who enjoy it are like me.”
Hayley Dixon is a painter. She stumbled upon upcycling online and loved the idea of improving discarded and unwanted art. Outside of painting, Hayley Dixon is an amateur cosplayer, a competent photographer, and a master foodie. She’s 36, an Aries, and doesn’t believe in astrology. She is lactose tolerant and computer illiterate. Hayley is able to sleep for 14 hours straight. In 2022 she was Voted Most Likely to Lie About Being Given an Award. Her hobbies include going to craft stores and buying craft supplies for projects she never completes. Buy her art; support her dreams of amassing more unfinished craft projects.
You can find her work at Upcycled Thrift.
As always, thank you for reading the DOMA insider and make sure to visit the museum soon! DOMA is free and open to the public; we are open Tuesday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Check out our website at bsu.edu/doma.