008aLike many artists, I fall into habits when I’m working. I’ll find myself grabbing the same colors of paint or paper, or the same rubber stamp, even though the selection laying around in my studio is pretty diverse. What’s a girl to do when she finds herself headed for a creative rut? One of my solutions is to do some throw-away collage.

Fellow artist and all around fun girl Jane Dickinson of Art By The Yard introduced me to this concept a while back, and it’s been great for forcing me to look at things with fresh eyes. There’s no big investment involved here: just a pile of junk mail, which is plentiful at my house, and a glue stick. Pens and paints are optional, and I tend to do most of my throw-aways without them.

The goal is to create a collage from the pile of trash in front of you. Don’t think too much, don’t plan—just dive in and start gluing. One of the tricks I’ve learned is to hold each piece of junk upside-down, to see its colors and shapes rather than its message. I also give myself additional challenges, such as having to use a stamp I haven’t tried yet, or a paper punch that’s been hanging around unused, which is how the stars in this collage were born.

I keep a small, portable throw-away collage journal, which travels with me anytime I go on a trip. Hotel rooms are a wonderful place to do throw-away collage. I’ve also done throw-away postcards, and sent them to other like-minded artists. No matter where I work, or in what size, I always come away from the collage with a fresh perspective, looking at my materials in a whole new way.

Go grab today’s mail and make some throw-aways of your own!