Experimental Art - Recycled Art

Woodland Spirits

When you are willing to try new creative techniques, new products or to use materials in a different way, a great sense of adventure and expectation takes over. 

Often, you're rewarded with pleasant surprises and stunning results.  But, sometimes the results are disappointing or even a total flop.

I firmly believe though, that whatever the results are, taking time to experiment with new techniques and materials will take you on a creative journey that will unleash your creativity and develop your unique creative spirit.

To some, getting past the disappointing results is difficult.  Sometimes, the desire to quit isn't an emotional reaction, but more of a practical reaction - to continue would be a waste of materials.

So, what I would like to talk about today, is seeing the beauty in "flops" and recycled art.  I save all of my "experiments" not matter how bad I perceive  them to be.

I would suggest that every piece that doesn't meet your expectations should be looked at for its potential.
  • Is there a part of it that you do like?
  • Could it be used in another project or remade into something else altogether?
  • Or could you keep it and just see it as a memento of the creative journey?
One of my favorite art recycling projects is to trim off the parts of paintings or drawings that I like and use the remainder of the piece for paper mosaics, collage or paper weaving.  Sometimes, their second life as recycled art is more beautiful and what they were really intended to be. 

Just knowing that my new art experiment I'm about to plunge into will not be wasteful and will become something beautiful no matter what way it turns out, gives me the confidence to jump in without hesitation.

In the example above, I was trying out a new product that I thought would be fun to experiment with - Liquitex Pouring Medium.  This product, used with Liquitex soft body acrylic paint, creates these awesome, swirling, glossy pools of color that spread across the paper.  All you need to do is tilt and move the paper in different directions and watch as the paining develops itself.

It is that process of being totally immersed in directing the flow and movement of the paint while letting go of control of the end result that is both exciting and calming to me at the same time.

I like to do monoprints, where I use random shots of paint and mediums (which I will explain in another post).  So, I thought I would use the pouring medium in the same way.  I didn't have any spare bottles to mix each color with the pouring medium, so I just squirted the medium over green, blue, yellow and black paint that was drizzled over bristol vellum paper.

Because I didn't premix the colors, it didn't come out quite as I hoped.  However, there were these great areas of very organic-looking "mini paintings" that were perfect for cropping.  So, rather than discard it, I now have many pieces to work into other projects or to display alone - like the one above.  This piece is only 1" by 2.5" - a lot of detail is packed into such a tiny piece.

Tiny works of art can be used in framing.  Mounted on colored card stock or a painted background with a wide border and matt, they look more substantial.  They can be used alone or in multiples from the same painting or with others.

Photographing the work opens up even more possibilities of new art.  You can crop and enlarge an image, alter the color, contrast and look.  I'm new to photography and the thought of all this new potential for recycling my old works has set me off on new adventures in my creative journey.

  • Purchase a good quality, larger paper cutter.
  • If you are a OK with recycling a piece, cut it into a variety of strips for weaving or bookmarks and squares for mosaics, framed display or other projects.
  • Use clear, storage containers with plenty of compartments to store your paper pieces by color.
  • Depending on your taste, there are many suitable papers, but I prefer to use a smooth bristol vellum.
Recommended Reading:
  • I recently came across a wonderful little book called, Inchies - Create Miniature Works of Art Using Textiles and Mixed Media Techniques by Peggy Donda Kobert.  While fabric is the focus for the projects in this book, you can easily use painted paper instead.  Definitely take a look at this book.  The styles vary from cute to sophisticated and will inspire you with new projects for your recycled art.
  • Another inspiring book is Collage with Color - Create Unique Expressive Collages in Vibrant Color by Jane Davies.  Just sitting and slowly paging through this colorful book, gets me daydreaming about endless possibilities.  It is bursting with gorgeous colors and patterns that, to me, are truly mesmerizing.  There are projects galore that are perfectly suited for recycled art.  I highly recommend this book.

Love all that you create - good and bad; after all, it is a part of you.
You are its creator!

Happy Doodling!