Destinations Magazine

DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)

By Francoisetmoi
Steal this easy idea for turning inexpensive thrifted art into beautiful DIY vintage paintings with chic gilded frames. Champagne art on a beer budget!

DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)

Picture It: That serendipitous moment when the stars align for one fleeting second, the thrift store crowd parts, and you lay eyes on the PERFECT vintage painting: colorful brush-stroked landscape, framed by nuanced gilded molding, and within your minuscule budget.

This heavenly scenario-well it's only ever actually happened ONCE in my experience. LOL. But I have come across many a dime-a-dozen, amateur paintings in my thrifting tenure that are affordable and have great frames. The only tiny problem is the art and frame aren't exactly my taste.

DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)
DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)

My blogger friend, Melissa from The Faux Martha, introduced me to the National Gallery of Art's website with her infamous George Washington print. NGA offers open access images of noteworthy American art free for download. It's a pretty amazing resource.

They have so many great works, and I was particularly taken with a landscape piece called, The Lackawanna Valley by George Inness. It's a beautiful landscape composition with a delicious earthy color palette.

DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)

When I saw this fruit bowl 'still life' painting at the thrift store, I initially walked right by, writing it off as 'not my style.' But then it hit me that I could essentially replace the art with a printable NGA image, refinish the frame, and turn it into that elusive art piece I'm always searching for and can't find/can't afford.

I struggled with what to name this project, because it's not as if we're DIY painting landscapes on stretched canvases here- Yeah right! My 100 level college art classes can only take me so far. Instead, I'm modifying this old thrifted painting. My two secret weapons for this transformation are:

  • Downloadable art from printed on ink jet canvas
  • Rub n Buff to refinish the frame

Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?!

DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)
DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)
DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)


  1. Download your desired print from, and print on cotton canvas using an inkjet printer. Note: I amped up the painting's color and contrast as it looked a bit dull when printed (due to my cheap printer!) If yours is looking dull too, feel free to print this modified version.
  2. Use a heavy duty staple gun to wrap/stretch the canvas over the old piece of art canvas frame.
  3. Tape off areas of the picture frame needing protection from paint. Apply Rub n Buff onto the picture frame using your fingers. Allow to dry.
  4. Place canvas in frame. If it's not a snug fit, on the backside, staple around the perimeter of canvas to the frame at an angle to hold it in place.

Et voila, champagne art on a beer budget!

Art print courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington.

DIY Vintage Paintings (That Are Truly Convincing!)

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