It’s a worthy trend. Here’s the definition according to Wikipedia:
“Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value.”
What a brilliant idea! We don’t have to go out and buy something new all the time…we can UPCYCLE. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to what it means to be a consumer. Born into a consumer culture, I rarely stand back to see myself in action. Presently, I am looking at how I can return something for all that I get or receive. At least, I can review what I presently have and consider how I could upcycle.
A fellow artist had painted a beautiful painting of a meditating Buddha. It could not be improved upon in my mind. It showed mastery. When she told me that she was going to paint over it, I was stunned. Was it because she couldn’t afford to go out and buy another canvas? Because it didn’t meet her expectations? Was she that unattached to her creation?
These days, I have a lot of paintings at various degrees of completion. I find myself choosing an old painting and making it new. I preserve what I like of the original piece and what fits with what it wants to become. Sometimes, I gesso over the entire canvas and begin anew. I no longer find this sacrilegious.
I’ve done this with furniture for years…painting and decorating an old chair, for instance or an entire set of bedroom furniture. I have many very creative friends who upcycle clothing, stitching a ruffle on a skirt or mixing and matching the sleeves or adding a colorful placket on a sweater to create new apparel. Another friend gathers old wool sweaters, felts them and makes dog sweaters or cat toys.
This was an abstract painting of a river before I upcycled it to paint The River Goddess.