I recently bought a canvas print at Target based solely on the frame. I loved the ornate, traditional gold — and at $16, it was a steal (even if it was just for the frame alone). I wasn’t wild about the folksy-looking portrait within but was inspired at the thought of painting over it.
Before I get into this easy DIY (no artistic experience required), let me say this about mass-produced art: It is décor. It is worth as much as the canvas it is printed on and the frame that’s wrapped around it. It is great for tying a room together. It’s OKAY to think of a frame and a printed canvas, like this, as materials. A jumping-off point. Painting over it can arguably increase its value when the result is one-of-a-kind. We filmed the whole process if you’re more of a visual learner (watch below!) or you can keep reading for a process breakdown, including links to supplies.
The first thing I did was hang this piece in the room where it would go. I brought it up to our almost-finished master closet, sunk a nail into the wall, and hung the framed canvas. I recommend this exercise because the room really “told” me what the painting needed. Right away, I saw that the original tan background looked great with the wall color and the area rug. I started scheming a background in this color, and I liked the idea of keeping something from the original. I took in the other colors and patterns, even from our clothing, and I knew what I wanted to do.
I taped off the frame with painter’s tape and got to work mixing that background color on a paper plate: a pretty even blending of acrylic Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, and Titanium White. I dappled it onto the canvas with a ¾-inch flat brush, letting tiny slivers of the original background peek through.
After the canvas was covered, I mixed a second color directly over the tawny color on my palette, blending Mars Black and Thalo Blue. Because I mixed it directly over the tan color, some of the warmth came through.
Using the same broad brush, I painted thick blue-black stripes over the canvas. I applied the paint in irregular strokes — uneven and patchy — sometimes adding a little extra water to the paint for a washed-out look. I especially liked the streaks of unblended blue, black, and ochre that came ribboning through each band. Start to finish, this took about 20 minutes and cost less than $20.
To me, the painting is a nod to my beloved blue jeans. It also reminds me of my collection of pinstriped shirts (I didn’t know I had, like, eight until I moved everything into the new closet). It’s abstract and open to interpretation, of course, but for its inspiration — it’s perfect closet art for me.
The deep blue and beige and gold look beautiful in the closet now, and I’m already inspired to do another in a different color way! This awesome framed canvas is sold out, but I’m linking a few others that would be great for this DIY. (Here is a similar one! Love this one too!) Even if you have to spring for the paint, you could be less than a half hour away from hanging inexpensive, perfect-for-your-space abstract art that you made yourself.
Tag us @chrislovesjulia if you try this! We’d love to see your version!!