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.