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Recycle watercolour paintings – Top 10 ways

Don’t throw your ‘failed’ watercolour paintings in the bin — recycle them!

Jan T’s top 10 ways to recycle watercolour paintings

There are many ways to recycle a painting that you are dissatisfied with, including:

  1. Tear it into pieces for collage.
  2. Alternatively, find an area you do like and crop it into a smaller painting.
  3. Glue painted rice paper to mask the poorly executed areas.
    Note the ragged edged pieces of tan, and lilac rice paper in the background on this recycled watercolour painting.

    Recycle watercolour paintings Doodlescape Mountains detail
    Doodlescape Mountains detail
  4. Paint over some parts with gouache. Although John Lovett does not paint gouache on his paintings for this reason, I was inspired to fix one of mine this way with white opaque watercolour paint, and then it sold.
  5. Paint over some/all of it with opaque paints.
  6. Draw/write with watercolour pens on top of the painting. This painting was also successfully recycled this way.
    Recycle watercolour paintings - Octopus garden detail
    Octopus garden detail
  7. Cut into smaller ‘paintings’ to glue to greeting card blanks.
  8.  Another technique to try is to journal on top with markers and use the piece in your art journal.
  9. Use the back to start over.
  10. Stencil over the parts you dislike with very diluted acrylic paint.

New art from discarded paintings

As a result of rescuing your binned artwork, you will be surprised how much you like the recycled watercolour paintings, and your friends will love receiving art on the cards you send.

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Watercolour Painting Techniques Require Frequent Practice

doodlescape in mixed media

When studying watercolour painting techniques, I kept hearing "Practise, practise, practise!"

Any discipline, be it physical or mental, involves practising. A marathon runner needs daily practice, so do artists. In order to get better at art, you can start your day in the studio with warm-up exercises, such as colour mixes or trying different brushes to discover their potential strokes.

I have been exploring palettes, water, pigments, paper, brushes, and reading many digital books on the subject. As well, I have watched several videos, and completed many online video courses on watercolour painting techniques.

Review and revise 

On the opposite side of my studio from where I paint,  I place practice pieces, beside works in progress. The distance helps me see 'errors' and decide which painting technique will fix these.

Which technique?

Techniques for painting with watercolour are numerous and, depending on the instructor's ideas, can be different from one book or video to the next.

Playing with watercolour is both exciting and frustrating!

Cabinet in studio

Some of my pieces
Octopus Garden
Wet in wet layer, wet on dry layer, doodles with watercolour pens
Look Beneath
Glazing, layers A5
Negative painting, drips, A5
Close Focus Rose
Layers, glazing 8in x 8in
Pink Roses
Blending, wet on dry, wet on wet, spattering
Doodlescape wet-in-wet watercolour technique, A4
water colour balls
Wet-in-wet watercolour technique, A5
Daffodils in loose watercolour technique, A5
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Roses are red, or apricot


I painted a watercolour close focus picture of a beautiful rose from my friend’s garden, and presented it to her for Christmas.

Loved doing all the glazing in this one. 8in x 8in Fabiano cold pressed paper and Art Spectrum paints.