Upcycle: mass-produced canvas becomes original art | the ReFab Diaries
This post has been, literally, years in the making! When I got this IKEA canvas in 2014, I knew I'd paint over it one day. But it's taken a long time to make it happen and then write about it.

upcycled art




A project like this doesn't fall under general repurposing or upcycled craft. But I'm sharing it anyway because it does reflect my commitment to finding new uses for things I might otherwise want to get rid of. And I really didn't want this generic IKEA print around anymore! So here's to reusing old canvas.

And for those of you who are interested, it shows the process I went through in creating a large piece of art (35 x 46 inches - all acrylic).




So, where did I start? Well, not where I should have! I suddenly had an idea and just started. Below is the scribble that got me going.




I should have spent more time prepping the canvas. I should have laid down at least one layer of gesso to help cover the colors. Instead, I wiped it down and started plotting where I wanted some key shapes.




 The consequence: I had to lay down a LOT of paint to cover the colors beneath.




You can tell where this is going, right?




Yeah. I tried several different heavy body acrylics on that orange patch and it still took countless coats.




Finally got it there and then I decided to make the giant, graphic protea the center of the whole thing. Because I realized pretty quickly that this painting was going to be the centerpiece on a wall of art made (almost) entirely in southern Africa. 




At this point, it stopped being a project and started becoming "art". Which also means that this is the point at which I froze again. I'd never worked on anything so big and I had no plan for what next. And I'd created a lot of clean areas and lines that were somehow more intimidating than a white canvas. 



Then one Sunday, I was playing in a sketchbook and inspiration struck. So I took the beast onto the back deck and got going again. 


upcycled art

mixed media gallery wall



And here it is today. Inspired by guinea fowl, porcupine quills, moons and mountains, rivers and rain, precious metals, sari fabric, southern hemisphere skies and African contrasts and contradictions. 

I'm pleased to be able to say that in spite of very naive prep, both the canvas and the color is holding up well. My more recent work is a LOT smaller - see it all the store. :)










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  1. I LOVE that! Your painting is terrific - do more like that! And good use of an unwanted canvas. I've been reusing unwanted paintings too - first stretching denim over them, then making a denim artwork - inspired by Ian Berry. But now I want to paint on them too.

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    1. Thanks Anne. And apologies for the late response to your comments - blogger was updated recently and I'm only just now seeing 2019/2020 comments!

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