Thrift Store/Garage Sale Art

thrift_shop_romanticMarch 9, 2007

Hey there, folks-

I know many of you are artists in your own right, the way you transform "junk" into great new things. It got me to wondering whether any of you collect art from thrift stores, garage sales... road sides!... etc. I've found some paintings I really love, that have a lot of character, pleasant color, and charm, and maybe not perfect execution. It's the imperfections I think that make the paintings fun.

I wondered if there were any other people on the board who picked up rogue paintings or other art by unknowns. I just wanted to open the discussion. :-)

I'll post a link to my collection of found paintings, if anyone wants to see sort of what I've been talking about. (And no, there are no clowns or velvet Elvises (Elvii?) here. :-) )


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Hi Jenn,

I love looking at paintings at thrift shops and garage sales! I got lucky recently and bought three oil paintings in old wood frames for $5 a piece. I am struggling with cleaning the mat, though. Any suggestions?

I would love to see pics of your finds!


    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:31PM
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Hi there, Wobur!

Wow, did you get a great deal on your oil paintings! Do you choose anything in particular to purchase, or just what strikes your fancy? (I always love hearing what intrigues people about the stuff they choose.) If you get a chance to post pictures of them, I'd love to see. As for cleaning them, I haven't had to do that yet myself, I've been really luck with condition. But I bet an art store or even someone in a craft store like Michaels might be able to suggest something.

My link to the paintings in my collection is as follows (the darned URL is too long for the Optional Link Area):

Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 4:13PM
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I have a nice collection of pieces found at thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets.
Right now they are sitting in a pile in another room. I'm working on the house. As I finish rooms the pictures go up. I always buy what speaks to my heart and doesn't kill my wallet!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 4:14PM
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I bought a small watercolor a few years ago at a garage sale for $4.00 because I liked the composition of it. Once I got home I found out the artist was famous - Joseph Bohler! I wrote to him to confirm the authenticity and he told me it had a value of about $500.!!

I'm all for garage sale art!!!! Even if it had been worthless, I still would have considered it a great find.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 8:23PM
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Wobur, you can paint the mats with spray paint if you can take the picture apart...I don't understand why an oil painting would have a mat though...are you sure it's not a watercolor?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 9:55PM
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Lydia- What a great story! And the fact you were able to get the artist to actually confirm the piece is amazing.

I don't believe I have any paintings that have any huge monetary value, but they're fun and look good with my decor, so they're totally worth it to me.

Carol, with your collected pieces-- do you plan to work your decorating around the pieces, or do you tend to choose art that goes with a particular decorating style?

One guy I'd heard of had found this enormous 5 foot by 5 foot painting in the trash-- and has apparently built his whole room around it. (Which I guess you kinda have to do when your found painting is that ginormous.)


    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 8:16AM
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You're right, Marisha. I called it a mat because I thought it was too hard to describe the frame. It is a common style. The frame consists of a 3" wooden border, an inch of canvas or linen, and a narrow strip of molding inside that... The fabric insert is always some variation of white or tan I think and you only see them used with oil paintings. And thanks for the suggestion re spray paint! I have another painting I like but the mat colors bother is baby pink and one baby blue, so I will take it apart and paint them.

Jenn, I don't really like the $5 paintings...sort of fall and winter scenes in pale muted colors featuring deer.
But I like the frames and am trying to make them work for another thrift store painting of yellow and white flowers that came in a very cheap frame and an inexpensive but suppose to be original watercolor of a Paris street scene that doesn't have a frame. I got some experience with mix and match when my aunt gave my mother and I about 30 original paintings, many of which were unframed and we didn't want to spend the $$$ to have it done. My mother had a stock pile of misc. frames and mats in her garage and we had fun trying to make them work, mostly successfully. I am looking forward to checking out you pics.

Happy hunting!


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 11:59AM
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Your thrift store art is beautiful and inspirational! I won't be able to pass by a Salvation Army ever again. Your commentary was great, too, and added a lot to your gallery. I am very impressed!

Happy hunting.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 3:53PM
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Hey, thank you! And I hope you get your frames sorted out the way you'd like. You're smart to stockpile inexpensive frames when you can get them; framing is seriously expensive.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 8:13AM
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Instead of tearing it apart, could you paint with craft paint and a small brush? That's what I would do instead of having to tear apart a picture and then spray paint. Sometimes things don't go back together as nicely as they came apart ;)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 8:16AM
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Thanks for the suggestion, sweets. What kind of paint should I use? (I can't paint, except for walls!)


    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 10:45AM
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