Updating a vintage frame and artwork

I recently attempted a DIY project updating a vintage frame and artwork that we found at the local salvage store. I had been looking for some time for a piece of art to go in our small powder room on the first floor, but was having difficulty finding something that was both the correct size and color and not too expensive. A few weeks ago on one of our regular trips to the salvage store we found a beautiful (although rather beat up) ornate wood frame. With just some paint we transformed it into an interesting piece that fits nicely on the bathroom wall. Keep reading for an overview of how I updated a vintage frame and artwork.

Before and after photos of my vintage frame and artwork update
Before and after photos of my vintage frame and artwork update

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The step was to remove the artwork from the frame. The art print had significant damage and couldn’t be used as it was, so I planned to paint over both the frame and the artwork itself. 

The frame

For the frame, I wanted the primary color to be gold so that it would really pop on the navy blue wall I intended to hang it on. But I also felt that it needed to have hints of silver because all of the other metal in the room was chrome or satin nickel. So I started by cleaning the frame and using wood filler to fill in some of the largest holes and scratches. Once that dried, we sanded it down. 

I decided to use gold spray paint as the primary color. I used several coats of a vintage gold-colored spray paint to achieve the coverage I was looking for. Once the spray paint was dry, I used a metallic silver paint to add some hints of silver. I used a dry paint brush to lightly brush over the gold paint.

Steps in the process of updating my vintage frame and artwork
Steps in the process of updating my vintage frame and artwork

The artwork

Since the existing artwork was damaged in several places we decided to paint over it. Although I very much enjoy DIY projects and general crafting, I do not consider myself an artist. So, I watched countless videos on making abstract art and got some small canvases to practice. 

I first considered doing an acrylic pour- but these turned out awful and Brian wasn’t a fan. I purchased the rather expensive pouring medium but didn’t add enough to the paint the first time. I added even more pouring medium for the second painting but it still wasn’t enough for some of the colors. In the end, we were frustrated and just didn’t like the way it looked.

We decided it might be best to do something a bit more intentional and abstract. My favorite abstract painting videos were by SurajFineArts and I tried to mimic his techniques. After practicing on several small canvases, we decided we were ready. I first covered the original artwork in white spray paint because it was very dark and I didn’t want it to show through. Then I got to work.

We used acrylic paints for this project. My inspiration was a basic seascape with sky above a body of water. I tried to focus on making the top portion varying shades of whites and mixed in some other colors to add highlights. The bottom is progressively darker blues meant to mimic the depths of the sea.

Tools Used

We used just a few items to complete this project:

  1. A damaged art print (make sure it has no actual value)
  2. Sand paper
  3. Wood filler
  4. Gold spray paint
  5. Silver metallic paint
  6. Small practice canvases
  7. White spray paint
  8. Acrylic paints in various colors
  9. Basic paint brushes and tools

The finished product

Although I’m not sure how I feel about the actual painting, I think that it looks amazing in the frame and on the navy blue wall. And I had so much fun painting it. I may go back one day and paint over it, but for now I think it works. I consider my first attempt to update a vintage frame and artwork a success.

Although I haven’t done any other art pieces, I have updated several vintage furniture pieces. Check our my posts on my vintage buffet update and my vintage cedar chest update.

What do you think? Have you ever painted art for your home?

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2 thoughts on “Updating a vintage frame and artwork”

    1. Thanks Joelle! You are so sweet. I feel like you could pull something like this off if you wanted to for your new house. I can help you get started if you want- just let me know!

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