Remember: having unfinished art is a NATURAL, REGULAR, NORMAL part of creative process. After a while, though, that pile of work can start feeling like growing evidence of everything you haven’t done. When you start to feel this way it’s time to cull. It’s time to “mariekondo” that stuff. It’s time to face that pile of incomplete work. Enjoy 50 ways to use your unfinished art:
- Paint over it.
- Swap it with a friend and have them finish it.
- Photograph it: manipulate the photographs of it to get a new idea.
- Abandoned art project, anyone?
- Cut it up and use it for collage.
- Cut it up and use it for backgrounds.
- Choose an entirely new medium to incorporate into the artwork.
- Upcycle it and incorporate it into a refurbished piece of furniture.
- Epoxy the painting and make a food tray.
- Throw it out. (But only if it feels good. <3)
- Give yourself 2 weeks to a month away from your work. Look at all of the unfinished pieces. Only finish the ones calling to you. (Give yourself permission NOT to finish one!)
- Post a photo of the work in a community like ours and ask, “Help! How can I finish this?”
- Ask the artwork: what else do you want? Then make time to sit, observe, and listen.
- Practice techniques on it.
- Use the work as a warm up space.
- Embroider into it.
- Cut pieces out.
- Make a quilt from unfinished works.
- Collage over it.
- Create a relief by building on top of it.
- Flip it upside down and then finish it with the new orientation.
- Splatter paint on top a la Jackson Pollack and then reinterpret the work.
- Make coasters from your cut up pieces.
- Disassemble and use the pieces for other works.
- Feel attached but need to let go? Have a release/goodbye ceremony for the work.
- Journal about it: what story do you see in the work? Use that for inspiration.
- Collect leaves, or other pieces of nature. Decoupage.
- Use it for a base of an artwork inspired by recent travel (find those ticket stubs, photos, etc.)
- Create a vision board with it.
- Paint on it with your eyes closed.
- Finger paint.
- Draw/paint contour drawings on it for 30 days. Layer them.
- Find a quote that pairs with the work and use it to inspire your finishing decisions.
- Give it away.
- Donate the work to an art teacher for supplies.
- Blog about it: “A Diary of Unfinished Artworks.”
- Ignore it: listen to the excitement you feel about your other work and stick to it.
- Hide it.
- Share it with a local art group meetup and ask for feedback.
- Create five artworks inspired by the unfinished work.
- Write down a list of 5 things you learned from the work.
- List 5 skills you want to develop because of the work.
- Thank your unfinished art for it’s lessons and discovery.
- Meditate on the image.
- Trace pieces of the work and use it for a new work.
- Cut it up and piece it back together.
- Congratulate yourself for creating: it’s about doing the work, NOT the product.
- Monoprint on top.
- Invert your colors and paint it again.
Click to Tweet: “Discover 50 ways to use your unfinished art.”
Be Creatively Courageous: Let’s make this post a growing resource for creatives… what other ideas do you have? Share them in the comments below!
what a great mail, fun ideas, thank you!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it Ria! 🙂
Carrie, the “wtdw unfinished art” listing and your admission made me feel relieved and not alone! Of the 50 suggestions, I only took seriously three or four, as I felt those that I had started were worthwhile the challenge and stilI see my unfinished worthy of completing to feel the satisfaction that “I could”! Thank you for the comment!
I’m glad this could offer you that sense of comfort and help you realize you most definitely are not alone. In fact, I don’t know an artist who finishes all of their work. Making some work that remains incomplete seems to be part of the creative process. <3 <3
This was great! I have a number of pieces that need to be completed and I will use these ideas as a springboard for success!
Karyn Walker Art
So glad to hear it Karyn ?
How wonderful to feel ok about my unfinished works! Incorporated a “unstarted” baby quilt into a Frio River scene banner for Wanted Campference with fellow artists!
That sounds awesome Holly!
Fab ideas, thanks so! <3
I’m glad you think so Mixy ????
Wonderful ideas Carrie! Very helpful.How fun to make a tray.
Thanks Victoria! Happy creating 🙂
Thank you Carrie,
Useful ideas. Also helpful to hear that others – including you! have times when they struggle to get to actually painting and there is unfinished work around.
I believe it’s a misconception that there are some artists who finish all their art. I have yet to meet one!!! <3 🙂
Really helpful Carrie – helps to know that others struggle with the same thing and useful tips to try out.
Glad to know I’m not the only one with UFOs (UnFinished Objects). Thanks for the inspiration.
Haha love the term! Definitely not 🙂