Thrifty Thursday: thrift store paintings and frames DIY

Perhaps it is because we are all busy, or perhaps we put less stock in arts and crafts than we used to, but somewhere along the way, the modern American fell into the trap of thinking that artistic pieces for the home must be obtained at Target. Generic, mass produced art available by the dozen, like stock images on the Web. The pieces mean nothing and are nothing and will eventually be thrown out when their “chic” factor wears off.

Yet a lot of us would say that art is unattainable and unaffordable, because at the other end of the spectrum are high art pieces. Those $150,000 pieces painted with gold and precious metals that scream I AM ART and which no one but the rich and artistic elite will get to appreciate and interact with. Even the art that hangs on the single origin coffee shop walls: $799? $1200? If you are the average person, you might be willing to buy one of those pieces… once or twice in your lifetime. But you would rather pay rent and health insurance and pay off student loans first.

All this to say, I am a huge believer in DIY projects, not simply for their value. Art you make yourself is art that you have a connection to, and I think it is healthy to be able to look around your home and see all the things that are the result of your sweat and tears and mistakes. If you are like most people, and don’t have the luxury of buying the art that others make, DIY art means you don’t have to settle for the generic. Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and just do it. Paint for yourself.

So, along those lines, I am always sad when people say they never like to visit thrift stores. Thrift stores are untapped sources of treasure for home decorating. You would be surprised how many nice frames and useable canvas you can find in the back corner of your local thrift store or Goodwill! There is no shame in finding beauty in someone else’s trash: it’s recycling and eco friendly at its best, plus it can be very easy on your budget, provided you have a few basic starting materials. With just a little work and some thoughtful artistic touch ups, you can be left with a sense of accomplishment, and a unique, custom-made piece of art to hang in the wall and show off to your friends.


Here are two simple ideas for thrift store paintings, and at the end of the post, some suggestions for basic starting materials.

My first idea looks like this:

This is literally a cork board. I saw similar ideas all over Pinterest, but the basic concept is to find a frame for your wine corks, and glue them in. The frame pictured was a five dollar thrift store find. We punched out the front, nailed on some composite wood backing, and are gluing in our corks as we drink them. Even a partially filled cork board looks amazing. This piece is hanging in our living room, and we get quite a few compliments on it. We collected corks for four years to get that number, but sometimes you can obtain free ones from friends, family, and even restaurants that serve wine.


My second idea is what I call “copy art”, and here are two examples.


These are acrylic paintings done by my sister and myself. They are copy art pieces, replicas of art work that we saw online, cannot afford to buy, and happen to like. They were painted the old fashioned way, with brushes, acrylic paint, and water. I textured the animal pieces with toilet paper.

Now, I will say that my sister and I have quite a bit of practice and experience in crafting and artistic endeavors, but that shouldn’t stop you! The take home message is that thrift stores are rich sources of very cheap canvas. And once you bring it home, you can paint anything you feel like on them! If you don’t like it, paint it over. Try different things. Use references from artwork you like online, and if you can’t copy the shapes, then try copying the color.

You can find traditional framed paintings, take off the glass, paint over the painting within in white primer wall paint, then use it as your new canvas and put whatever you want on it. That is how the robot painting (inspired by Robots and donuts painter, Eric Joyner) was born. It used to be a drab Thomas Kincaid style painting before it was revamped.

The three animal paintings were done on reclaimed canvas. I found three large pale pink canvas with faded nursery rhyme prints, painted over the front in white primer, and added my copy art on top (inspired by a lovely Set of artwork I found on Pinterest).

Don’t be afraid to just try new things. You’ll be surprised what you can do when you actually have a blank canvas sitting in front of you, just asking for color.


Suggested list of supplies to start:
– thrifted canvas or painting that you think has potential
– white primer paint
– painters tape
– brushes
– acrylic paint in pure primary shades (blue, red, yellow) plus white and black
– a little bit of creativity and a willingness to make mistakes


One thought on “Thrifty Thursday: thrift store paintings and frames DIY

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: The Artist’s Eye | MKG- Memories-Keepsakes-Gifts

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