Using Recycling Material to Create Abstract Art


Did you know that one of the most famous artists ever – Pablo Picasso – used found objects and other recycled materials to make art? That’s because using recycling material to create abstract art can be an effective way to convey feelings, thoughts or emotions in a way that simply may not be possible with just paint and canvas.

The good news is that, in just a few quick steps, you can begin making your own abstract art masterpiece.

The first step is to think about the type of texture that you want the artwork to have. There are many recycling materials to use for creating unique texture – anything from fabric scraps and ribbons to bottle caps and cardboard. One easily found material to create texture is the simple, everyday plastic that you find in plastic grocery bags, a roll of Handi-Wrap, or just about any package wrap. 

Next, after you’ve selected the plastic you want to use, apply a layer of one color paint, let dry, then apply a second layer of a different color, and press the plastic before the paint dries. You can use a lighter color as your background and a second dark layer to add contrast.

Acrylic dries quickly, so make sure you spray the canvas with water; then firmly press the plastic into paint before it dries. Once you are satisfied with the design and it’s almost dry, the plastic can be slowly and gently removed. 

The results can be something special, especially since plastic is great for blending colors. To see what you can achieve using this technique, check out “Untitled 2” from the abstract artist Floy Ealy Edjole. She created “Untitled 2” by blending blue and green acrylic paint with plastic wrap and then adding lines to create the feelings of tranquility, peace, patience and composure.  

It’s this emotional context that is so important when using recycling material to create abstract art. Each found object – especially if it’s an easily recognized household item - brings its own emotional connotations, and can be used in a variety of different ways in any mixed media collage.

To see what’s possible using colors, lines, shapes and textures, compare and contrast “Untitled 2” – a piece of abstract art created using recycling material - with another of Floy Ealy Edjole’s works – “Eye of the Storm,” in which each brushstroke in a kinetic circular motion suggests a sense of chaos and deep, intense energy. This is a standard paint and canvas work, but the energy is palpable.

It’s this emotional context that is so important when using recycling material to create abstract art -

How might you try to capture this emotion with recycling material instead? One approach might be to avoid any clear outlines or clearly delineated forms in the finished artwork. You would want to create a sense of chaos rather than order. For example, using plastic wrap, you would remove it quickly and violently, rather than slowly and gently.

By studying the abstract artwork of your favorite artists, then, you can gain a number of valuable ideas of what you can achieve with different materials and textures. So start on your masterpiece today and bring some color to your home!