I've got a lot of work laying around. Color studies, experiments, paper-tests... these all add up to stacks of work that aren't suitable for sale, but are too interesting to just throw away.
So I cut it up.
I begin by finding areas that call to me, that seem like there might be more to their story if they could stand alone and then cut them out. I don't really pay attention to size or orientation, just allowing that small moment to exist without the trappings of the rest of the painting. (I've cut some 18 x 24s down to 2 inches in my pursuit!)
Once I have my pieces, I like to examine each one - flipping them over and spinning them until that moment becomes a new composition. I'm looking for something I haven't done before, something that begs to be explored, something different. Occasionally I'll tape them up on the wall, here I can flip and manipulate with my mind on other work -- which usually allows the better compositions to percolate to the top of my consciousness.
Armed with a fistful of new compositions, I take these to my sketchbook to explore further. Some end up paintings, some end up taped into the folds to play with another day, but all of them teach me something about how and why I do the work I do.
What do you do with old/experimental work? Do you cut it up too or use it for other purposes?