Repurposing small pieces of old artworks

One fun way to create unique journal spreads is to find “mini masterpieces” in your old art. Even when I don’t care for a piece or a page, if I focus on small areas, there’s almost always some parts that are really beautiful. Try it! Just grab a hole punch or scissors and cut or punch out circles, squares or any other shape.

How to Use Mini Masterpieces

  • Minimalist Page: Arrange your cutouts on a blank journal spread
  • Collage Page: Incorporate cutouts onto a painted background
  • Illustrated Journal Page: Paste 1 or more cutouts on the page. Then journal around your shapes, letting the shapes dictate where the text appears on the page.
  • In and Out Page: Use the hole created by your cut out as a starting point for your page. This is a great way to use the theme of contrast as a starting point. I’ll show a sample and explain this step by step below.

In and Out Page

I think the most powerful way of journaling is allowing images and pages to unfold naturally. It adds a sense of adventure and wonder in a way that gives more meaning to my work.

I will walk you step by step through this process. If this feels helpful, I encourage you to try mimicking the page. If you are ready to cast off on your own, then go for it. You can learn a lot through imitating other artists. Just be sure not to post these pieces in a public forum (like Instagram) as your own.

Step 1: Using a 2-inch circular hole-punch, find several mini masterpieces in 1 or 2 pieces of your art.

Step 2: Set your mini masterpieces aside for other projects and pick one of the “holes” created by your punch and paste it somewhere on a fresh journal spread.

Step 3: Leave the center of the hole empty, and allow all the paint or color surrounding the hole to “float” out onto the page. (I used a gel pen for this.) From here, you might mimic mine and let it fall like rain, or you might allow your imagination to guide you in a new direction.

Step 4: Make a second art journal spread by repeating steps 1 – 3, giving your imagination more space to dictate what’s inside of and outside of the hole. Follow your instincts. Don’t be afraid to mess it up or do something stupid or weird. Those “weird” ideas are often where the magic lies.

Playing with the Metaphors

Holes and circles leave room for SO MUCH. I found it interesting to begin playing with the metaphor of what is missing from the hole.

Has something left?

How did it leave? – Gently? Violently? Happily?

What will happen to it?

In my piece, I feel like the blue that used to inhabit the hole floated away into the sky, and then cane down to the earth as rain, creating a life-giving river. It’s a metaphor for the circle of life and the contrasts that life holds.

Writing About Your Art

What does your piece say to you? A great practice is to take out a separate sheet of paper and write about your art. Start by describing what you see without judgment: a circle, blue dots, a blue line at the bottom, etc. Then as you get comfortable, allow associations to bubble up – I see a river flowing, fed by the rain, etc. You can journal this way when you are in the midst of a piece too. I find it’s a great way to get in touch with my imagination. Have fun! I can’t wait to see what you make!


Amy Maricle is an artist, art therapist, author, and blogger who wants everyone to experience the healing power of art. She works in Foxboro, Massachusetts and lives nearby with her family and two trouble-making, lovable pooches


  1. Katie Smith

    Love this, Amy!
    I also love that you suggest writing about your art, but words have never been my strong point. I speak in color/paint my feelings, because I’m no good with words, so then explaining my art/why I did something a certain way on it, is a real struggle for me.

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Katie:

      I can relate to struggling this way – words have always come easy to me, but numbers never have! It’s possible that the writing is not for you, it’s also possible that if you changed the “rules” in your mind about what the writing “should” be, that you might open up a new avenue for depending your experience with your art. For example, what about giving yourself permission to write in bullets, make grammatical mistakes, not spell correctly, etc?


  2. Riet

    I’ve been thinking about writing about my art, you words were the last encouragment that I needed! Thank you, Amy!

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Riet!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I’m thrilled to hear that you are going to write about your art based on some motivation from me. YAY. I love that we are mutually inspiring each other!


  3. Elizabeth D.

    I love this idea! How special to give an old page new life <3