When you think about creating art what tools or mediums do you typically use? Now take those thoughts and throw them out the window and start thinking about everyday objects as tools and art mediums. Continue reading to learn about some creative ways people are straying from traditional tools. 

Join us on Thursday October 22nd at 2 p.m. for a fun filled session of Art Exploration, Teen Edition where we will learn even more about the use of Unconventional Tools in Art!

What does unconventional mean?
Unconventional is not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed.

The artist disregards the established standards or the usual/customary way of producing art works to achieve certain designs which sometimes could be seen as controversial in appearance.

A few non-traditional tools that can be used to create art.

History of Unconventional Tools
People have been creating art for thousands of years. The first artists did not start off using fancy brushes and paint. Many of the first recorded art forms were some form of finger painting or carvings.

Cueva De Las Manos,7000 BC,

 Watercolor made out of natural pigments of plants

Spray Paint
Spray paint is not a traditional paint medium but it has become a trend in the past few years to do street performances and paint elorabrate pictures using vinyl stencils and ordinary spray paint.

Spray paint painting by Karen B.

Recycled Materials
The use of recycled materials has become a widespread phenomenon with the large amount of trash that is turning up on our beaches and in our oceans.

Recycled art is creative work that’s made from discarded materials that once had another purpose. This includes anything from old plastic toys and vehicle tires to scraps of cloth and building supplies. Artists who make recycled art take those materials and make them into something new.   

These giant fish were created with thousands of recycled water bottles to make a powerful environmental statement as they emerge from the sands of Botafogo Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Jane Perkins works with everyday found objects. Her specialty is reproducing portraits and famous artwork using waste products.

This was created as part of the Fallas festival in Valencia by an artist known as Nituniyo. The sculptures are burned at the end of the festival. It was made from 6000 recycled cardboard tubes.

This is an example of street art that uses found objects such as tires, bicycles, and even household appliances.

Created from ocean waste by Rachel White. 


  • Hong Yi is a Malaysian born artist and architectural designer.
  • She focuses on the reimagining of everyday objects through the layering of lots of objects.
  • She calls herself “An artist who ‘paints without a paintbrush”. 
  • Inspired by China’s production power and abundance of materials found in wholesale markets, Red discovered her style of art by using materials in bulk to create portraits of well-known Chinese and world known personalities.

Artist Red Hong Yi

Portrait of singer Adele done using melted candles by Red Hong Li

Portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi created using over 200 white and red flowers.

Red Hong Li likes to create mini temporary works of art using food.

Red Hong Li food art.

Iris Scott

  • Iris Scott was born in 1984 and was raised on a small farm near Seattle, WA. Both her mother and father were self employed and worked at home. Mom taught piano lessons and tended the gardens, while Iris’ father supported the family by building custom cabinets in a shop attached to the house.
  •  At college, Iris learned fundamentals of charcoal, pastels, watercolors, oils, acrylics, and clay.
  • She discovered her signature way of painting one hot and humid day in Southern Taiwan in a moment of laziness. On Iris’ easel an oil painting of yellow flowers was just a few strokes away from finished, but all the brushes were dirty and needed cleaning before proceeding. Too eager to complete the painting in that moment, Iris simply took a few swipes at the canvas with oils squeezed right upon her fingertips. The thick paint went right on, texture was suddenly easier to control. Iris was thrilled to discover what she believed could be mastered, oil finger painting. The next day she hunted down surgical gloves. She paints using her fingers

Artist Iris Scott
Iris has been featured in Forbes, Barron’s, Business Insider, USA Today, NowThis, CBS New York, and American Art Collector Magazine. Several galleries carry Iris’s originals, her collectors have included Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Children’s Hospital, and Swedish Medical Centers.

Painting by Iris Scott done with her finger paint technique.

Painting by Iris Scott done with her finger paint technique.

 Painting by Iris Scott done with her finger paint technique.

Painting by Iris Scott done with her finger paint technique.

Painting by Iris Scott done with her finger paint technique.

Painting by Iris Scott done with her finger paint technique.

Art Time! 

Your task is to create 2 unique pieces using unconventional tools or materials.

We Want to See Your Art 

We would love it if you would share a picture of your artwork with us. It may appear on our website or social media platforms. Send all pictures with complete names and ages of artists to Laura,  l [at ] johnson [at] ccplonline [dot] org .

Art Project #1

It’s time to paint like Iris Scott and get messy and  finger paint. Using whatever material you have at home create a painting using your fingers as brushes. 

Art Project #2

Collect objects such as recyclables or objects found in nature and create something new. You can use the objects as tools to paint with or the actual art objects.


If you want to know more, explore these fun titles:

Nature’s Art Box by Laura C. Martin

An Artist’s America by Michael Albert

Rad Recycled Art by Emily Kington