Oh Deer: Upgrading Thrift Store Artwork

A couple months ago I spotted a ton of huge paintings at our thrift store. Some company must have donated a bunch of them all in one load.

I really liked how big the canvases were and knew I could paint over them. Any resourceful artist knows that canvases this large are hard to come by unless you make them yourself (which is a pain in the butt). However, each one was $100. Out of my budget!

I kept my eye on them every time I visited, and my patience payed off when they marked them down to $25. I knew that was an excellent price for a 6' x 4' canvas, so I pounced.

Just for scale, check out how big it was compared to my pear painting!

The husband put some white primer in our paint sprayer to coat some furniture, and I asked him to spray the canvas white as well. Pretty soon I had a perfect blank canvas! And then it sat in our spare room for another couple of months until I finally worked up some creative mojo...

I was finally feeling artistic this past weekend, so I decided it was the perfect time to tackle this painting. I don't have an easel this big, so I propped it up on the fireplace hearth while we watched college football.

I knew I wanted to paint a deer, so I found a beautiful image online to use as a point of reference. Out came my paint brushes and three colors of paint– white, beige and black. The photo I was working from was black and white, and I knew I wanted to keep my painting in those same shades.

I asked the husband to document my progress with his phone so you could see how the painting evolved as it went along. It took about 3 hours from start to finish.


It wasn't perfect, but I was still happy with it. It felt good to paint again! It's nice to flex my artistic muscle every once in a while to make sure it still works, you know?

The living room was feeling lonely once we removed the Christmas tree, so I had just the perfect spot for this new artwork. Our resident deer was happy to pose in front of Bambi for me, of course.

So the next time you see some ugly artwork at your thrift store, try to ignore the artwork and focus instead on the materials. Is it a nice, gallery-wrapped canvas (canvas wrapped around the full frame and stapled in the back, out of view)? Does the painting/photo come with a mat and decent frame? All of those things are reusable and salvagable. You can always discard the existing art and make your own, or frame something you'd like better than what it comes with. It's a great way to save money.

Now I have a big statement piece for a mere $25 (and three hours of my time). Not too shabby!

(And if you're new here, art is one of my little hobbies. I don't do it that often, but you can see some of my other paintings and murals on my artwork tab here.)

Best Blog Tips