Let's be honest. Sometimes things don't go as planned. You start out with a great idea for a piece, and then...it bombs. Hard. Don't feel bad! We've all been there plenty of times. Here are a few ways to recycle, reuse, and remake those failed pieces!
1. Paint over it:
If you're working with acrylics or oils, you can simply white that sucker out and start over. Sometimes this will even add a cool texture to your next work of art. You can also leave parts of it showing and paint the negative spaces to create a peek-a-boo effect that I really love!
If you're working with watercolor, it's not so simple, unfortunately. *Tears*. You can, however, bust out some acrylics or some ink and try to cover the bits you don't like with something else.
2. Make cards:
If there's a good bit of the painting that I really like, I'll chop it up and turn it into a one-of-a-kind greeting card! These are really popular with my customers. They make great gifts and if they are 5x7, they're frameable! I leave the inside blank for their own creativity.
You can also turn your good parts into business cards. I often do this with the edges of my paintings or with work I don't love. As long as the color and pattern is not too busy, you can write your info over it, thereby creating a beautiful, tiny piece of art! My business cards are only about the size of a thumb drive, and people love to see that size. I don't know why, but folks love tiny things. It's weird.
3. Make bookmarks:
Another option is to cut a sliver off your painting and turn it into a custom bookmark. I love this idea. It works well with watercolor or acrylics on canva-paper.
4. Collage it:
Cut out the shapes of flowers, leaves, clouds, or anything else you can imagine, and rework those elements into a new collaged piece! You can do this with any work on paper, and can even incorporate them into acrylic pieces.
5. Art journal:
Use the interesting tidbits to create a gorgeous art journal. You can even write about what worked and what didn't work for future reference, if you like. This is tied into the collage idea.
6. Draw on top:
Similarly to painting over your piece, you could also take a paint pen, marker, or ink pen and create a pattern, picture, or design on top of the failed piece.
Maybe your junk work is the perfect canvas for someone else's ideas! I've created watercolor pieces that I'm not crazy about, and handed them off to a friend of mine who's an amazing letterer, and he turns them into something truly special. Or perhaps you have a friend who does multi-media work and would love to have a springboard for their own piece!
You could also give them to your kid (if you have one) and do a collaborative piece. This is such a fun idea!
8. Turn it over:
Use the back of the paper if you're able. If you're doing embroidery or stitching of any kind, sometimes the back can look even cooler than the front! Also consider turning your piece upside down or sideways to see if the composition looks better that way.
Those are a few ideas for you! I hope that some of them sparked some ideas for you and that you're able to take those failed pieces out of storage and give them new life! Let me know if you try any of them.
Here's a thing that I believe wholeheartedly: YOU are a creative. Wait, no...YOU are a CREATIVE. Like, the all-caps kind. Don't believe me? Read on, friend.
Are you scared of blank pieces of paper or white canvases? Do you land more on the cerebral side of personality tests? Do you cringe at hippy-dippy ethereal lingo? Me too. Let's be friends. The stereotype of a creative is a free-wheelin', loosy-goosy, always-late, never matching, rebellious type. And yes, some creatives deserve that stereotype. But not all of us. Many of us are creatives masquerading as intellectuals, list-makers, and type-A personalities. Whichever camp you fall into, I guarantee that you're creative in ways you've never considered!
Ok, you still don't believe me?
Listen, if you've ever made a meal when there was nothing in your cupboards, or organized a spreadsheet in a nearly poetic way, you are a creative. If you put together an outfit today, you are a creative. If you chose the colors to paint your home or decided where the throw pillows should go, you ARE A CREATIVE. Woo, ok, I'm getting excited. Sorry.
Creativity is much deeper and more nuanced than artistic talent. It requires problem-solving. It mashes ideas together in brand new ways. Heck, if you'e ever uttered something strange and thought, "Well, that's probably never been said before," THAT is creativity. Humans can't help but be creative.
So, let's say you believe me now, but you'd still like to flex those baby creativity muscles. Here's the good news: creativity can be learned and cultivated. Woo-hoo! You were born creative at birth, but somewhere along the line, some of that natural spirit got squashed out of you. If you want to get thos juices flowing, you don't need to dive right into creating a visual masterpiece! Try some of the following ideas to get inspired!
1. Stream of Consciousness: Get a pen, grab some paper, and sit your ass down. Clear your mind as best you can, set a timer for 30 seconds, and then just GO. Write whatever comes to mind, even if it's not in complete sentences and makes literally no sense whatsoever. This method helped me write countless stories and poems over the years. Try doing it every day. It's only 30 seconds!
2. Attend a Slam Poetry Event: You don't have to perform. Calm down. I'm just saying, go attend one and soak up the vibes. You'll hear people express huge ideas with words you never would have thought to put together. It's totally invigorating, trust me.
3. Collage: Grab a stack of old books or magazines, cut out everything that catches your eye, and then see how you can fit those things together. It doesn't have to be pretty, and it doesn't have to make sense. Plus, it feels really good to destroy stuff with scissors.
4. Altered Books: Some of you will HATE me for this, but I love this idea. Get an old book from the thrift store...any theme is fine. I like the old illustrated classics. Then, grab an assortment of markers, pens, and collage scraps. Go to town on those pages: do blackout poetry, pull out one phrase or word and create a picture to go with it, add on to existing pictures with your own touches. So fun!
5. Take a cooking class: (Alternately, buy a really good cook book). Learning the basics of how to cook will allow you to play in the kitchen with confidence. You'll know what flavors go well together, so that you will be able to put your own spin on things. Cooking and baking can both be incredible ways to stretch your creativity!
6. Record your dreams: Your dream state is like the Wild West of creativity. If you can capture any of your dreams, you'll have endless material. I find that at first, I don't remember much of anything, but if I write down even one little scrap of a dream, I'll often remember more of it. I did this religiously in high school. I started my journal with one fragment of a dream, but since I did it every single day, it wasn't uncommon for me to eventually remember 4-5 dreams per night! Welcome to the weird and wonderful side of your brain, folks.
7. Travel: Even if you can't afford a real vacation, take a trip to the countryside, the city, or a neighboring town. The new sights, smells, and feels can transport your brain to all new places!
Ok, this is getting long, so I'll stop there. You get the idea, right? Try some of these exercises out and watch your creativity explode!