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Upcycle Your Magazines Into Fine Art

Updated on August 16, 2018
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40 years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Carrie

Source

Don't throw away those old magazines when you can create artwork with them.

I have been a dabbler for a long time. There is something very appealing about turning trash into treasure. Although I have been an artist for a long time, I never really tried collage before a couple years ago but now Im hooked.

I look for magazines with the shiny, glossy surface so that my finished piece has a shine even without varnishing it. I save key words that I think will add to the finished piece. These words will be the last to add to the picture so I set them to one side.

The photos and even text pages are torn or cut (or both) and laid out like a pallet. I like to layout my pallet like a rainbow. Starting with red, then orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and last the earth colors of tan, brown and black. I usually use a reference photo, preferably one I have taken myself so there are no copyright issues. I draw the subject onto a large heavy piece of paper, 80 pound cover weight, or sometimes the back side of a watercolor I didn't especially like. Watercolor paper is usually very heavy weight, 140 pound or better. The collage doesn't need to have paper this heavy but it is nice.

Lay out the paper scraps like a pallet rainbow.

Photo of my table.
Photo of my table. | Source

Fine Art Collage

Neighbor girl

Source

Anika

Lay-in of background and facial tones.
Lay-in of background and facial tones. | Source
More details on face and hand.
More details on face and hand. | Source
Dress details.
Dress details. | Source
Finished dress and butterfly.
Finished dress and butterfly. | Source

Draw the picture and start gluing pieces.

Rubber cement is my glue of choice because it doesn't warp the pieces or change the color. Most rubber cement will yellow with age but if you want to spend a little more, they do make an archival quality rubber cement that will not yellow the paper. Of course, magazines are NOT printed on archival quality paper and these portraits will yellow with age. It does seem a lot of work for something that won't last the test of time. However I have found that a lot of people don't care if a painting will last the next 100 years. They usually grow tired of a painting within 10 years and want to change up their décor anyway. Plus, in this digital age, the photo of the finished collage will probably stay nice long after the original has aged and yellowed. It is hard for die-hard artists to change their thinking on this point. We have been taught to honor quality and always work on paper and materials that will stand long after we are gone. These collages will not do that, unfortunately. That hasn't prevented me from getting awards for them and selling a few. I have enjoyed the process either way. And I find most average people don't care.

Just like my paintings in oil or watercolor, I like to start by filling in the background colors. Then I put in the shadows and build up to the highlights. The fun thing about collages is that people don't notice the little things if the color is right. That's how I manage to place peoples faces into the hair on my Carrie Collage, or the apple, red high heel shoe and orangutan in the Green Hat portrait. Those are fun and it's an "ah-ha" moment when people see them.

Photo Reference: My table with magazine pieces laid out and Curious Girl in process.

Recycle, repurpose, reuse?

Cowboy Hat

Source

Have you ever tried a collage?

See results

A little patience goes a long way.

It does take a little patience searching the magazines for just the right color to fit in a transition area, where you want the nose to have a smooth soft transition from light to dark, or little jewels in the Cowboy hatband. Sometimes I will put a collage away because I can't find just the right color I want and later stumble on it in some circular ad that came in the mail. As you see in the photo of the little girl I am working on, the glaring white of her hands and arm show that I am not finished with this piece, and I'm still looking to find just the colors for the fingers.

I have actually won awards for these collages, entering them in art shows in San Francisco and some local ones here in Fresno, California. I have received a Portrait Award, People's Choice Award, 1st and 2nd place ribbons and cash awards for several of the pictures shown below. That's a nice complement for recycled magazines, don't you think?

Photo Credit: My portrait of the Cowboy Hat Collage.

Just a few of my collages.

Portrait of my step-daughter, Kim Collage, won a first place ribbon.
Portrait of my step-daughter, Kim Collage, won a first place ribbon.
The Blue Tractor Collage
The Blue Tractor Collage
Home Grown Collage
Home Grown Collage
The Red Bush Collage.  The snow was fun to do.
The Red Bush Collage. The snow was fun to do.

Summer collaging.

During the summer I spent some time creating more collages. I started with the background and then added the facial tones. The dress and foreground fencepost were last. I designed this collage from a photo I took of my granddaughter at the zoo.

More Collages

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Source
Source
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Collage Comments welcome. - How do you like my upcycled art?

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      kiddiecreations,

      I'm so glad you got inspired by this and that my pallet method was helpful. I hope you have fun giving it a try. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • kiddiecreations profile image

      Nicole K 

      2 years ago

      Oh my goodness! Your collages are truly spectacular! This makes me want to create one. I did one in high school art class, but it's definitely been a while (I'm 30 now and a mom of a toddler). The way you laid out the clippings according to color makes perfect sense, but I had never thought to do it that way. Thanks for the idea!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      I'm so please you want to try it too. I find it fun and fascinating to find just the right colors and gradients.

    • seraphic profile image

      Seraph 

      3 years ago from Canada

      This is amazing! I am going to give it a try on a rainy day in the summer ! Beautiful creativity! Great Hub!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      I just won the Best of Show in a juried art show with one of these collages. I'm very excited about it.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @aaroncollegeman: Thank you for visiting my lens.

    • aaroncollegeman profile image

      aaroncollegeman 

      4 years ago

      What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @tfsherman lm: Thank you. I have fun with this technique over the years and it works great for kids too. Enjoy.

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 

      4 years ago

      So many children's illustrators throw in a little whimsical collage into their artwork, and it adds such a dimension of charm. Love this idea. I never thought of the palette idea -- could make it work for the little guys. Thanks!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Sylvestermouse: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      4 years ago from United States

      This really is fabulous and so very creative!!! I love it! I will have to thank Coletta again for sharing this lens on Review This! She certainly picked an awesome lens to review this week!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @KateHonebrink: Thank you so much. I'm so glad you liked my lens.

    • MarleMac profile image

      MarleMac 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Wow! these are stunning and what a great idea to repurpose magazines! I love collages! Great lens!

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 

      4 years ago

      Amazing results! I'm speechless at what you've created using magazines that would otherwise be thrown out. Kudos on an inspiring article!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @MarleMac: Me too! Thank you for liking my lens.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Pam Irie: Thank you so much.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Adventuretravels: I love that story. It seems the arts are the way to many handicaps. I love that you gave him a way forward. Great ideas. Maybe you should write a lens on that!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @GeorgeneMBramlage: You're welcome. I'm so glad you like my ideas.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 

      4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      I think that this is a wonderful lense that showcases a very creative idea! And you give not instructions but show off beautiful and intriguing photos of your work. I can hardly wait to finish cleaning up my piles of projects, take some of my photos and give your instructions a whirl! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna 

      4 years ago from UK

      Hello -I'm so happy to see this lens. Lovely work. I have just finished helping my son with his class project. He was given a huge blank book about 4 months ago and told to do a project. He's 13 and dyslexic. So we had to find a way forward. His strength music so he wrote 3 pieces of music about the environment. We then made a video using... collage!! We stuck all the pictures in the book and filmed him doing that - then we speeded up the film. He's good at editing and all that. So now we have the best project ever!! I love your rainbow start. I'm so inspired to keep making them now that I've seen your super work.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      4 years ago from Land of Aloha

      This is absolutely fabulous! Bravo!!!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Nancy Hardin: Thank you for all your encouragement. You are a special lady.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @SteveKaye: Thank you. I appreciate it.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I'm so impressed with this art and the fact that it re-uses and recycles magazines that usually either go in the trash or into the recycle bin for someone else to recycle. What a fantastic idea! You are so talented. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Brite-Ideas: That's my least favorite one. I didn't think I got the depth I wanted in it. Thanks for visiting again.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @MarathonRunning: That's great. I'm so glad you like it. Thanks for visiting.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @CherylsArt: Great. You need to try it. You may love it.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Lee Hansen: Thank you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @ecogranny: I'm so glad you like it. Thanks.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Gorgeous images, beautifully wrought. Thank you for sharing them with us, and for guiding us. I will share this with my artist friend who loves to do art projects with her grandchildren. I know they will have a blast, and who knows, she just might take up collage herself.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      4 years ago from Vermont

      Artistic inspiration!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      4 years ago from West Virginia

      Such a neat idea! I've done collages with paints before, but not with magazines.

    • MarathonRunning profile image

      Martina 

      4 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Love your art! All of the presented pieces are special, but I prefer "The Cowboy Hat".

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      the art you created is really different, love it - especially the river and snow picture

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      the art you created is really different, love it - especially the river and snow picture

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 

      4 years ago

      You're an amazing artist. Congratulations on your success with this. It's beautiful.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @sierradawn lm: You are welcome. My pleasure. I love sharing.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @susan369: Excellent. I think inspiration is half the battle. Thanks for visiting my lens.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @anonymous: Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      4 years ago

      Love your upcycled art! I'm not artistic with my hands, but I have an eye for good visual pieces and I'd frame your work in a heartbeat.

    • profile image

      susan369 

      4 years ago

      Amazing! I very much doubt I can do anything as good as these, but I'm so inspired to try!

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 

      4 years ago

      Your art is beautiful! Thank you for this excellent tutorial on how to do this!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Lynn Klobuchar: Thank you so much. I appreciate the kind words.

    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 

      4 years ago

      I really like these -- it is always amazing to me what actually makes up a collage when I get close to it! Interesting and clear instructions. A pleasure.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @John Dyhouse: Oh you should. I found them fun and fascinating. Thanks for visiting my lens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      4 years ago from UK

      Love these pieces. Great art. I really must have a go at something like this

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @jennabeezer: Thank you so much. I appreciate you liking my lens and my work.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Elsie Hagley: Thank you. I'm so glad you like them. So far the only extra money I have made with them is the awards I got entering them in art shows.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      You have done a great job with these old magazines. I love it. There are some very colorful magazines around these days and the price you pay for them it would certainly pay to do some of this type of art, maybe you cold make some extra money. Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea.

    • profile image

      jennabeezer 

      4 years ago

      True talent at work here! Thanks for posting your VERY impressive collages. I really enjoyed viewing them.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Diana Wenzel: Wow, so nice of you to say. I appreciate it. Thank you for visiting my lens.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      4 years ago from Colorado

      Beyond stunning! I never realized just how sophisticated a collage could be. These are exquisite. Love your art. Your gifts are finely honed.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Colin323: Awesome. You are very gracious. I appreciate all your Brit/Yorkshire work. Thanks for visiting.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @flycatcherrr: Thank you so much for the complement and for visiting.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @GrammieOlivia: Oh grammieo, you are too kind. Thanks. I have been working at it a while. Practice makes ... maybe not perfect... but surely excellent.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 

      4 years ago

      You are very talented indeed! Wow, if mine would turn out like this, I just might give it another shot!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 

      4 years ago

      Your collages are fascinating - my favourite has to be the Blue Tractor, but they're all pieces I could very happily live with and enjoy for many years. Thank you for sharing your work, as well as for the idea - I'm inspired to give this a try myself, though it may be a stretch to develop your eye for colour and level of patience!

    • profile image

      Colin323 

      4 years ago

      I like it very much. It is very creative and engaging. I particularly liked the Blue Tractor collage. Thanks for sharing this lens. It brightened my day seeing these vivid colours.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Mary Crowther: Oh, I hope you do. It is a lot of fun and a little patience. Thanks for visiting my lens.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @aesta1: Thank you so much.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @smine27: I'm gratified that you like my work.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @LizRavn: Thank you very much.

    • profile image

      LizRavn 

      4 years ago

      Nice works!

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 

      4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I'm amazed at these beautiful pieces of art.,

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very creative. These collages are works of art.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 

      4 years ago from Havre de Grace

      I love these and you have given me inspiration to try my own!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @MelRootsNWrites: Thank you. It is a little intricate but fun. Thanks for visiting my lens.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 

      4 years ago from California

      This is really neat! I don't think I could turn out anything like this. You've made some beautiful collages! So much more creative that the ones we used to do in school.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @getmoreinfo: Thanks so much. I appreciate you visiting my lens.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Heidi Vincent: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Gypzeerose: Oh, thank you. How kind. Thanks for visiting my lens.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      4 years ago

      I wish my collages looked like yours! Gorgeous.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      4 years ago from GRENADA

      It is superb, DeniseMcGill! One needs to have a really good eye for that sort of detail to hues etc.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 

      4 years ago

      wow these are so wonderful, you are very talented. I love your collages.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Corrinna-Johnson: Wow, thank you. I have been an artist against all odds. My dad was against it, my first husband was against it, my children made fun of it, but I still create. You just can't beat it out of me. Something compels me to create all the time. So I really appreciate it when others like my work. Thanks.

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 

      4 years ago from BC, Canada

      These are beautiful! You are very talented!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @SusanDeppner: Thank you. I've been having fun with it. An art group even asked me to come do a demonstration on how I do it. I'm so humbled that people like it so much.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Joanne Reid: Thanks so much!

    • Joanne Reid profile image

      Joanne Reid 

      4 years ago from Prince Edward Island/Arizona

      Love it.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Outstanding! Wow, absolutely beautiful work - and what a great upcycling idea!

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