Quick Inspo: Make Some Art on the Cheap!


So the reality is that frames can get up there in price, which makes sense since they take artwork to another display level and we like that. If we're being totally honest with ourselves, we must admit that even a meh-diocre piece of art can look SO legit in a swanky frame, and not just because "The Swanky Frames" sounds like an awesome indie band name. I'm going to share with you a super top-secret, confidential method to get some amazingly displayed art in your house for cheap, as long as you're willing to do some DIY painting if needed (and you'll need it. It's fun. Trust me). Are you ready?? "YES, LYNN," you enthusiastically reply.

Step 1: patiently visit thrift shops five hundred times a month until you find the perfectly framed piece of art. I needed a long, framed something-or-other to hang on our wall by the front door. The key is to look past the original artwork. Some things to consider:

  • Is the canvas/paper/whatever material the art is printed or painted on in good condition? Does it have a weird varnish over it that may not take paint or other art media? Is it easily accessible through the back of the frame (some frames are dumb and practically require a jackhammer to get into from the back and you basically destroy it and yourself in the process)?
  • Is the overall thing sturdy? Will it break once you try to get into it?
  • Is the frame - or however it's displayed - to your liking? Squint at it and pretend your favorite painting is in it. Is it working for you? It's so easy to see a decent frame and decide it'll do. No. Get excited. LOVE the frame. BE the frame.
  • Are you going to be morally okay with painting over original artwork if the perfect frame is super custom and would be difficult to dismantle? This post is about that exact scenario.

Step 2: Enter: the perfect frame.

"OMG something new I'm gonna step on it OMG OMG."

This magnificent specimen was only 10 buckaroos and it's PERFECT. I'm using that word so much right now. It has "Hecho en Mexico" stamped on the back and it's perfect. Isn't that design on the wood so good?? It has so much character and home-madeness.

Now, let's discuss the art.

This is one of those stretched velvet paintings that are commonly sold by vendors to tourists. I actually really did like the scene because it's just so innocuous that pretty much anyone would like it (mass appeal: a concept I'm still trying to understand as it applies to me, which is ironic? Maybe? I don't know). It wasn't signed, and probably took the artist very little time to do since these kind of things are produced quickly and frequently, so I had very few reservations about painting over it.

With Parks and Rec playing in the background for the entire evening (Netflix is convinced I literally do nothing all day long), I settled on the living room floor, taped off the frame, and just went to town. Side note: velvet is weird to paint on with acrylics, as it turns out. I'm assuming fabric paint is more appropriate, but the painting that was there served as a decent primer.

After hanging it, I seriously couldn't get over it. I sat on the couch for at least ten minutes looking at it. That frame completes the painting so perfectly and it fits in with our house so beautifully. Ughhhhhh I'm so happy with it. AND IT WAS TEN DOLLARS, PEOPLE.

This frame is obviously very Latin-American flavored, so I looked up Latin American art and used that as a basis for this painting; I strive to stay true to the character of a piece that I'm modifying, whether it be furniture or art, because it otherwise just looks awkward and forced. It's kinda like reasonably tweezing your eyebrows versus shaving them off completely and drawing them back on in a totally different shape that doesn't fit your face.

With that horrifying simile in mind, go forth and get thrifting!!!

Shameless plug: this painting is available as art prints (sans the awesome frame. Sorry), throw blankets, shower curtains, and a bunch of other cool stuff!