Upcycle Old Paintings and Finally Figure Out What to do with Unwanted Art

6 methods to help upcycle old paintings stashed in your closet and make room for more art in your life, even if your painting is “undonate-able”.

Have you ever had so much canvas artwork that you’re running out of room to store them?

If you’re anything like me, you definitely have encountered one issue multiple times: storage

At this point, you probably have been painting more and growing your curated art collection….which is freaking awesome.

At first, you managed your space by hanging up all your artwork on the walls. Then, when you ran out of wall space, you stashed your artwork in the closet. Once that started piling up, you buy plastic storage bins. But after filling the 2nd bin and fighting to shut your closet door overflowing with old canvas, you know it’s time to say goodbye to your canvas (Andrea Bocelli style) and do some decluttering.

Of course, you probably feel a tiny attachment to your paintings – after all, they are your babies. So whether you are looking to completely get rid of your canvases or give them a complete facelift, here are 6 ways to put those paintings to better use rather than collecting dust in the corner….

ART TIP: Before you do any of these steps, if you are attached to your painting, take a picture of your artwork so you can have it both for posterity and for future reuse to make (or sell) as prints.

Disclaimer: some links used in this post are affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a small commission if you purchase using my links at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I think will be helpful to you and bring you one step closer to creating beautiful acrylic masterpieces!

1. Sell your paintings or artwork

If you’re thinking, Amanda, there is no possible way anybody would ever want my painting…think again.

Plenty of artists (and hobby artists) choose to sell their creations on sites like Ebay, Etsy, or even Craigslist to help clear their art space and use the sales earnings to buy better art supplies. Plus, the delicious high of selling your own work to someone who appreciates it is *fingertip kiss* beautiful.

Note: if you are looking to do more than just sell your paintings, like gain exposure for your other works, sites like Ebay are pretty good. However, once you have more confidence in your paintings and want to sell professionally, I would recommend doing this on other platforms like your own website, Shopify, or Etsy. #justsayin

But if you’re not about that selling life, you can always…..

2. Give your art away as a gift

Nothing says “hey man, I love yo face” more than hand-painted canvas art, and what makes it more special is how unique it is. If you have a holiday or special occasion coming up, like a housewarming or your best friend’s birthday, you can gift them with your unique, one-of-a-kind artwork; plus, you can even add a little more to the painting to make it customized just for them and earn the “BFF 4EVER” of the year award (but more on that later in step 5).

3. Donate your old art to a charity that means something to you

This was a huge surprise for me, but plenty of nonprofits, local communities, and charities look to artists to donate artwork as part of fund-raising efforts or to send to veterans, hospitals, nursing homes, just to name a few. Plus, depending on the value of your donation, you may also get a tax deduction to go along with it (do you research on this and chat with your CPA to get a better idea on this!)

There are also plenty of options to donate your work, depending on the organization. Some will even come to your home and pick up your donated artwork for you, which is pretty sweet and convenient if you can’t leave the house.

Some organizations that currently accept old artwork as donations include the following:

To find local charities to donate artwork, you can simply google “your town + art donations” and, you’ll probably find some art-related auctions or charity events happening near you.

If however, you just want to drop off your art and not go through the official donation process, you can simply donate them to thrift stores/non profit organizations like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers, just to name a few. But in either case, you can rest assured that your art will find a loving home and spread even more joy to its viewers (rather than collect dust in the closet).

3.1 Donate your art to local elementary schools

I wanted to add this as another option for art donations. If your art is age-appropriate, consider bringing it to a local elementary school and offer to have it displayed on their walls.

It’s a pretty cool thought to know that your work can be seen and maybe even inspire the future artists of the world. Plus, plenty of elementary school teachers look for ways to brighten their classroom walls, so if you got a special teacher in your life, consider bestowing your artwork to them.

4. Switch from canvas to mixed media paper

One of my favorite art hacks is actually ditching the canvas and instead using a support that is thinner and takes up less space overall.

I personally love using watercolor paper for my acrylic paintings, especially these ones from Arteza or canvas paper.

Both are 1/20th the thickness of stretched canvas and are built to handle lots brush slapping or any wet application with your medium of choice. This means you get more storage space at a fraction of the cost of canvas, which is amazing if you’re brand-spanking new to painting or want to practice without wasting good canvas.

…plus, pop it into a nice frame, and you got yourself pretty sweet art decor for your living room.

Related canvas-alternative posts:

5. Add a fresh spin to your old art

Ever have that painting you didn’t finish or cannot stand looking at? Or perhaps you have an old family painting that is far from sentimental and you just CANNOT get yourself to donate or throw it away.

Perhaps vamping it up and adding different colors, accents, characters, or movement can turn it from “blegh” to “wow”. I have done a similar method with old art I thrifted and took a boring landscape scene and turned it into a quirky scene with added color and characters.

old boring canvas art I thrifted
After: adding a fresh spin with colorful characters. What do you think is happening?

You would be amazed at how fun this process can be – and how fresh and “alive” your canvas painting looks.

Related: Recycled Canvas Posts

6. Re-use the canvas

Besides using mixed media paper, the best way to save space, money, and the environment is to actually re-use your painted canvas. I’ve seen lots of people think that once a canvas is used once, it can never be used again, and that is sooooooo incredibly false, Queen Bee.

I have reused canvas multiple times for art projects-and with the right tools, my paintings always looked fresh, clean and ready to receive more paint for my new project. You can read more about how to re-use any canvas you got lying around and save beaucoup dollars in my blog post.

BEFORE: my old painting
AFTER: Ready for painting

RelatedA Super Easy Way to Reuse your Canvas

Final thoughts on what to do about unwanted canvas paintings

Our canvas paintings are a source of joy for us, but when they start to pile up and become tripping hazards, it’s time to minimize. So consider any of the above methods as a way to declutter your space, make room for more creative projects, and know you did something good for yourself, for the environment and for others.

What other ways can you declutter your old or unwanted artwork?

What to do with your old or unwanted canvas paintings

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