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An Introduction to Altered Art

What is altered art and what does it encompass? In its definition, Altered Art is an artistic style using everyday, old, mundane items and giving it new life through various artistic techniques and methods. It can turn an old chair into something new and creative, or a tattered old book can turn into a special memory book. Whether it be functional or creative, itís the process thatís important, the methods the artist utilizes and the emotions brought into being. Altered Art has a historical base that goes back to the middle ages where monks altered their old manuscripts, reusing precious parchment pieces for new material. Even da Vinci painted over and over wrote on his journals. It continued into the Victorian times when women put their scraps into albums thus creating the first original scrapbooks! These days, itís more than scrapbooks. Itís a way to express your creativity with no rules to govern the art.

There are many different types of altered art available today and can be intermixed with each other.

Recycled artóthe use of recycled products and materials.
Found artósimilar to recycled products but more of the everyday ordinary materials.
Mixed mediaóusing various different art techniques and methods.
Collageótaking bits and pieces of things from different genres and forming new art.
Decoupageóbits and pieces of ephemera glued together onto a surface to form a decorative piece with a painted look to the artwork.

What are some things that can be altered? Basically, anything that can be repurposed in a creative manner. Think outside of the box and rethink how an object might be reused or redesigned to make it your own. It can include these items:

Food jars
Food boxes
Chocolate boxes
Plastic containers
Metal lunchboxes
Picture frames
Canvas bags
Wooden cases

Basically, if you can transform it, itís altered.

What materials will I need? Anything crafty goes. Paints, pencils, glitter, ephemera, photos, pens, markers, old jewelry, CD disks, clay, silk flowers, string and more. Use up your crafting supply! Or, try something new and put it in your altered art! Itís whatever floats your boat in the realm of creativityÖno rules apply here.

It is in that there are no rules, that one may have trouble. One may actually have mindblocks at the many varied possibilities. There are methods and techniques for releasing the inhibitions so that the creativity comes out. One might use an altered art journal in working out his/her feelings/creativity. The journal is basically a decorated and embellished diary of whatever comes to mind. It can hold a record of your day, it can be a sample of some art you wanted to record, it can be your visual diary. This might be one way to work thru the inhibitions. Or it may be a way to test out your ideas. The journal itself becomes a piece of art!

Altered art can also be utilized in a Round Robin where a group of artists select a theme and work on one piece collectively. One would do a portion of the artwork and then pass it on to the next on the list, and so on and so on, thereby creating a collaborative piece of art.

Finally, altered art is one way for an artist to be environmentally thoughtful. As it is a way to reuse, repurpose, recycle, altered art can only be termed a green craft. So not only are you making your world a brighter, happier place, you're cleaning up that same world too!

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Content copyright © 2013 by Vivienne Oestergaard. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Vivienne Oestergaard. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Mia C. Goloy for details.

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