We’ve all got them, paintings that have been in several exhibitions that have not sold,  removed from their frames and  then put with all the others in a cupboard or under the bed!!  They  may  have also been entered in unframed exhibitions, and still not sold, so what to do with them?  Sometimes they lie about for years doing nothing.


Whilst recently recovering from foot surgery and not being able to get out, I took the bull by the horns and got out all my old unframed pictures  and gave them the once-over. I really likd some of them and, like you perhaps, wondered why they hadn’t sold.

We all know what the economic climate is like at the moment and buying paintings is quite low on most people’s agenda, so here we are with another unsold one to join all the rest!!



I decided that I would sift through them and throw away some that probably wouldn’t sell, and cut the rest up to make some greetings cards and tags.

I must say that I really enjoyed doing this, it was fun,  and I was quite pleased with some of the results.  I reserved the paintings  that were on good paper to later paint on the reverse side, no point in throwing good paper away.


Mostly I paint floral subjects and these make excellent subjects for cards, and also some of the bird paintings I thought I could use, the landscapes however, proved a bit more difficult to find a home for, but you will have your own ideas.



All you need for this exercise is a pot of glue, some smallish scissors, and a little imagination, and as painters, I’m sure you all have this in abundance.  I also used self -adhesive ribbon and adhesive crystals, and there are some extremely pretty papers available from your local hobby shops.

In some cases  I  decorated the envelopes too, and  glued offcuts  inside some of the cards, this makes a nice surprise on opening the card. I also used some watercolours and coloured pencils to touch up the designs where necessary and white gouache for highlights.


First of all you need to study your painting to see how to use it to the best advantage, and  how to make the most of what you have..

Sometimes it may just be a simple case of cutting out the image and gluing it straight onto a card, this usually works for the landscape subjects quite well as they will not really need too much in the way of embellishments, and will be more suitable for male friends and family members.


With a little judicious trimming , and depending on size, you will be able to get several cards from one painting, and maybe some matching tags from the small pieces leftover.

You will find yourself looking for odd bits and pieces, foil, tissue, glitter sprinkles, textured papers etc.


Illustrated are just a few  of the cards I have made but you will have lots more ideas and inspiration of your own, you’ll be  amazed  how addictive it is and I was really quite sorry when I’d finished them all.............  Now let me see.................. perhaps I will remove a few more from their frames and make  some more!!!!

matching gift tag


  • Your discarded paintings
  • Pot of glue (I used Elmers)
  • Small scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Cards cut to size
  • Envelopes
  • Sheets of fancy paper
  • Coloured Foil
  • Opaque White gouache
  • Black Fineliner pen
  • White biro
  • Coloured pencils
  • Stick on embellishments  such as ribbon, crystals, sequins, butterflies  etc.


  • If the design needs more definition, use coloured pencils or more watercolour paint to accentuate it
  • When cutting around flowers, cut slightly inside the painted edge
  • Don’t use too much glue
  • Use tweezers to remove lettering from backing paper
  • If your cut out design overlaps the edge of card, you will need a larger envelope
  • Use a fairly robust card, a thin card will not accept the glued on designs as well as thicker card
  • Gold and silver pens can flood and ruin the card,   coloured pencils are better
  • ALWAYS replace tops to pens immediately as they dry up quite quickly if left open, especially the white biro

pansies on background painted blue wiht white gouache splatters

Sheila Southwell holds monthly Watercolour Workshops with a different subject each month in Hassocks, West Sussex,  and conducts Club Workshops.

Her teaching DVD’s are available from the SAA Home Shop

Contact: [email protected]

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