The background paper for this collage came from a large, white sheet of craft paper I always use to cover my work surface. (And when I say large, I mean it... my roll is 36" wide and hangs on the wall from a dispenser I got at the art store. I usually cut off at least 36" - 48" of it and lay it flat over my entire space.) After I've worked on top of it for hours or days, turning it frequently to use up the whole thing, the paper gets pretty mucked up and when it finally falls apart, I recycle it and start with a fresh sheet. The scrap I used in the photo, however, became so lovely so quickly while I was painting this week, that I sliced it out of the sheet before it could get destroyed.
It harmonized perfectly with the other collage bits I was working with and I knew it had to be used for something, also.
So here's my artsy tip for the week: Never miss an opportunity to make art, even the accidental kind- like the background paper for this piece. Place plain white or solid-colored fabric or paper under your work surface and then forget about it. As you work on top of it, don't try to direct or control what happens to it, just let the paints, mediums, liquids, and even cleaning solutions you use during your regular painting sessions splash and flow over it. Check in with it every few hours of use and see if it looks like it's ready to come up and be saved for a college or background element later. Let layers of paint build freely on its surface- they'll create amazing resist effects as more paint is laid on top of it.
You may not always wind up with a winner- like I said, usually the paper just gets gross and torn, and eventually has to be thrown out- but chances are good you'll find at least some part of it usable in future work!
Happy weekend creating!