Old Canvas Art Makeover

I have to start out by making a public apology to Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, West Elm, Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware, and a few others I’m forgetting. I’m sorry I’ve ordered your catalogs for years and have never purchased a single thing from you. I’m sorry for using you for your great ideas and giving you nothing back in return.

I promise someday when I have money, I’ll make it up to you. But for now, I’m forced to drool over your pages, adding items to my mental wish list, then recreating them using my garage sale finds as raw materials. At least you can feel good knowing you’re inspiring many of us that can’t afford you.
My latest catalog “inspiration” were these companion art pieces I found in a Ballard Designs catalog. I loved their simplicity, earthy tones, and airy feel, but at $589 for the pair, I knew I’d have to improvise if I wanted the same look.
It wasn’t until I came across these choice paintings (no offense to artists Rochelle and Marushka) at different yard sales, that I decided to attempt to recreate these Soliloquy Giclee prints on my own. The canvases cost a mere $.10 for one while the other was free at a close-out-the-day special (more of my yard sale tricks can be found here), making this entire project less than $.50 if you include paint.
I started by shopping through my latex paint collection for colors that I saw in the original works, plus any others I needed to incorporate into my master bedroom. Yep, you heard right, I used good ‘ole house paint for this so I wouldn’t have to buy anything more for the project.

I avoided any gloss or semi-gloss finishes, but anything from a flat to a satin works fine. I ended up using three flats, one eggshell, and two satin finish colors, and you can hardly tell a difference in the finished pieces.
I then set up my two soon-to-be-upcycled canvases on tabletop easels and covered the previous prints with a dark brown.
Next, I separated the canvases into four different planes, and painted each either a white, buttery yellow, or light aqua blue, and left the bottom fourth brown. I left some of the original brown showing through on the upper portions to give it that aged look. I then blended the colors between each of the layers to give it more of a loose feel, instead of looking like the colors were simply stacked on top of each other. Because I could do this with a one inch brush, finishing the background went surprisingly fast.
Now it was time to add my happy trees. I took a small quarter inch brush and with the same dark brown, rough-sketched where I wanted them planted.
Then I took that same brush, and using different colors of greens, yellows, and browns, began layering on the leaves. I tried to keep my brush clean in between colors to avoid the paint getting too “muddy”. But other then that, there was really no exact method to this.
The whole project took the better part of the day, mostly due to interruptions like making meals, entertaining toddlers, and getting the laundry and cleaning done.
It’s nice to finally get them up on my wall and they’ve helped the duvet cover feel more a part of the color pallet. Hmmm, what’s next for this room?

Update: We revealed the master bedroom and chatted it up about all the costs involved here. Check it out.

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  1. Love your paintings, and what a great idea. You did a fabulous job. Can’t wait to see more of the room. Hugs, Marty

  2. “Happy tress.” Haha, were you channeling Bob Ross? They look great! I would have never thought of re-using the canvas and attempting to recreate that picture but it turned out so well. You have totally inspired me! Love your blog :)

  3. Great idea and great job!!! Again, such inspiration!! Love your blog! Keep up the good work!

  4. Awesome! Can you paint me something now? How ’bout for Christmas? 😉

  5. Wow! Whitney you are talented!

  6. Wow! I would look at the originals and think “I could never do that” but you looked at them and gave it a shot and the results are top notch! Great job. I continue to be amazed by both of you.
    PS: totally voted for your mirror over on MMS – anyone that can figure out what to do with those old mirrors gets a thumbs up from me.

  7. I love love love this!! So going to do it for my bedroom! Love your blog too, keep it up! :)

  8. This is amazing! I am completely inspired and off to pull out my catalog collection to see what I can come up with…

  9. What a great idea and inspiration your projects are for me! Just found your blog and can’t wait to read more!

  10. Your artwork is beautiful!

  11. These look so great!! I am so looking for canvas when I go thrifting. Thanks for the great tip. I would LOVE it if you would link this post to my tuesday linky {totally tutorials tuesday} http://measuredbytheheart.com/2011/11/totally-tutorials-tuesday-111.html

    • Oh gosh, why am I just noticing now that we didn’t spell canvas right – thanks so much for your comment and making me realize it!

  12. Wow! These look so great! I am pinning these! Thanks for sharing!

    Stephanie @ Ladywiththeredrocker.wordpress.com

  13. I’m ALL about recycling old canvases! (10 cents?! way to score!) And I use good ole’ house paint on mine too – I think we’re of kindred spirits!! :) Looks great!! Thanks for sharing on Kammy’s Korner Trash 2 Treasure.

  14. Yep, I’ve been DYING to recreate these myself! You did an amazing job and now I’m really DYING to make mine 😉

  15. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  16. These are awesome! Really great! I just got some canvases at a thrift store and will be copying this straightaway. I too am a catalog copier.I just found your blog. Very inspiring. And those weird comments were hilarious.

  17. Your project has been featured for Functional Friday!

    Thanks for linking up!


  18. Awesome sauce…

  19. I totally copied your copy! It turned out great…thanks for the easy-to-follow instructions and pictures. My parents saw my results and said, “We didn’t know you could paint so well!”

    Love your blog and your interesting ideas.


  20. I have admired these prints in the BD catalog for the better part of a year. They’d go in our master perfectly. I have never once thought about trying to recreate them…and I am a known DIYer. Don’t consider myself much of a painter, but you make it look totally doable! Thanks for the inspiration to recreate inspiration. I think I will look at these mags in a new light now!

  21. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  22. Wow! This is amazing! You are so talented! I repainted a canvas a few weeks ago (http://www.blissfullychicdiy.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-painting-that-needed-repainting.html) but this one that you did required lots of talent! Great job!!!


  1. […] about a terrific way to repurpose found items.  Check out what The Rooster and Hen did with a couple of garage sale canvases and some house paint.  They turned out beautiful.  If […]