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Like most artist, I have a mound of "leftover" or unfinished artwork that I just don’t know what to do with—you know, the type of art that we artists tend to stick underneath our beds, then leave there to slowly accumulate layer after layer of pet hair and dust?

I keep thinking I’ll go back and finish some of them, but while the intention is there, a lot of times the follow through isn’t.

Well here’s a suggestion that works for me and gives new life to ALL those old pictures, drawings, photographs or paintings. Just grab your stack of unused art and cut out—yes, cut out —the parts you like for a collage!

I usually collage my pieces of leftover artwork onto a background surface like 140 lb. watercolor paper, but you can use a variety of background material such as, masonite, cardboard, canvas, etc. If you decide to use a non-archival background such as cardboard, you might want to cover it first with gesso or acrylic matte.

And don’t wait for artistic inspiration to strike—waiting is what MADE this mound of art in the first place. Just throw your collage pieces together willy-nilly, and then start playing around with them. Your artistic eye will see all kinds of new possibilities you may not have considered.

Of course, you can also paint on top of your collage using oils, crayons, ink, charcoal, paint, etc. You might find your collage is the starting point for an entirely new series.

I’d suggest always using pH balanced adhesive glue, or, if you use tape, that must be archival as well. I buy my tape from Aaron Brothers (it’s just called Artist Tape) and I get my glue from Jerry’s Artarama (look for pH adhesive archival glue by Lineco).

When I’m done with the collage my husband takes over and tapes the work onto a mat from Stu-art.com (remember I work on paper; this step isn’t necessary if you put everything on canvas). Next he uses Elmer’s Glue on the mat and backing board material and places the whole piece under heavy coffee table books for 12 hours.

After it’s dried, I like to frame my new artwork, but if you’re not framing your piece right away you might want to use plastic sleeves to protect your new artwork from dirt or dust and pet hair (especially if you’re just going to stick it back underneath the bed again!) You can buy plastic sleeves from Clearbags.com at very reasonable prices.

All in all, collaging is a fantastic way of revisiting old artwork and making it new and exciting again. I know, you may be a little nervous about cutting up your past paintings, but fear not my fellow artist—the results are well worth the effort!

To learn more about Nancy Hodge’s work, please visit her online art gallery .

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

I started cutting my own mats in the 1980s because I often drew in unusual sizes and it cost too much to have specialty mats cut at a store. My first investment in mat cutting was a Logan Compact mat cutter, but when Blick put the Logan Team System 2 on sale in 2004, I replaced my old cutter with something much simpler—and found that it's just as easy to use. . . . read more

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