Interesting materials you can use to create art

materials to create artmaterials to create artmaterials to create art
materials to create artmaterials to create artmaterials to create art

Interesting materials you can use to create art

Art is an expression of creativity, which means it can be expressed through a variety of ways. Hence performing arts, music, photography, fine art, sculpting, graphic design, fashion and dancing all being classifications of art.
But looking specifically at the creative arts of painting, sculpting and crafting, there are so many different mediums through which artists express their creativity and create pieces of art.


Recyclable materials

A popular practice amongst artists is to use recycled materials because it’s one way of getting rid of the excess trash and turning it into something beautiful – rather as part of a piece of art than littering the streets or ocean. An artist who is quite famous for his use of recycled and trash materials is Fabrice Monteiro and his Gods of Garbage series.

Some popular materials in this medium include:  

  • Plastic bottles: Plastic bottles can be arranged by colour, compressed, cut, used as a stamp. Or they can have their bottle caps collected to create mosaic, abstract and contemporary art pieces.
  • Plastic bags: Plastic bags are also used to create art. Sometimes they are used whole, other times they are cut into strips or cut into an image. Large-scale sculptures have also been made by combining plastic bags and other assorted materials.   
  • Tin cans: If you live in South Africa, you know all about how tin cans can be incorporated into art. Side-of-the-street vendors sell these popular, colourful, landscape paintings with pieces of soda cans and their tabs incorporated ontop to bring an authentic and rustic character to the artworks. Just another way to incorporate easily accessible and recyclable materials into art.


Fabric material

Okay, so you may be thinking, “obviously fabric material is used to create art” because of fashion, right? But, remember, we’re talking about paintings and sculptures here. You can use lace fabrics to create textures and patterns on paintings, for example. And there are artists out there making use of fabric materials in their art.

SiwaMgoboza is one of these artists who usesshweshwe material (specifically) to create an Africadia exhibition of cultural exchange and an expression of identity. It’s through these types of art movements where we can recognise and appreciate the change African art is undergoing through the use of traditional materials to create contemporary artworks with relevant messages.



Probably a more dangerous material to use to create art, but definitely one that’s proving popular amongst the online world, is gunpowder paintings. Placed on a wooden base, arranged into an image and then set alight to ingrain the design into the wood.

It’s mesmerising and satisfying to watch, which is no doubt how it has gained its popularity and, most certainly, creates a unique piece of art to add to any home or art collection.



In the caffeine-driven world we live in, it’s no surprise that coffee is both enjoyed as a drink and an art medium. Paintings made from coffee as the new paint is a current trend on the art scene that features a watercolour painting technique… but with coffee. There are also “coffee spill” artworks that take a purposefully accidental coffee spill and add to it to create something new and valuable.

There really are no limits to what you can use to create a piece of art. Or an art trend, for that matter.



Many companies have actually used the post-it art fad as a team building activity and as an art addition to the office. But the post-it is another interesting material that people can use to create artwork. And it takes skill to envision and calculate which shade goes where and how they need to overlay to achieve the desired effect.

It’s a simple material, challenging to design, fun to do, incredibly colourful and it’s creative. It’s everything you need art to be.


Nails and string

Another calculated and incredible art form is string art. All you need are nails, string and some serious patience. There’s a true art in knowing where to place and hammer the nails in and in which pattern you need to weave the string in order to complete the final picture and have the concentrated areas concentrated and the negative space areas remain negative space.

Almost anything can be created through this string art method. Hearts, world maps, music notes, wording, landscapes and animals are quite popular. There’s the freedom of using any colour for string against any colour of wood as a base, allowing for great contrasts to be created.

To be an artist, it doesn’t have to be your career or skill developed over years of studying and practice. Coming together as a family and using these types of resourceful materials around you (maybe not gunpowder painting around the kids), can lead to unique and sentimental works of art. Everyone can get involved, have fun and find a way to express themselves through art.

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