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Thrifty Art: Fake an Oil Painting

Finding unique and inexpensive art can be a challenge when you are decorating on a budget.  Today I’m sharing my little secret for getting an oil painting for less, how to fake an oil painting. 

Every good budget decorator knows that thrift stores are filled with all manner of cheap art and frames. Sometimes I find a piece of vintage art I love, but find the frame is just hideous. Other times I buy art solely to take home a gorgeous frame at a great price.

My latest thrift store makeover is this piece of art sitting on the open shelves in my kitchen.

I love the warmer earthy tones it adds to cooler vibe of the kitchen.  And you’d think it’s an oil painting wouldn’t you?

Well, it’s not. It’s really just a Mod Podge facade on print and an inexpensive canvas board.

I had originally discarded the print and used the frame for another project. Recently, as I was going through my frame stash, I ran across this print and with fresh eyes I saw potential. I purchased a new frame and gave the print a faux oil painting makeover.

See all that gorgeous detail?  That was created simply and easily with Mod Podge and a little ingenuity.

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Here’s what you will need:
• Print or piece of art
• Mod Podge- Matte Finish
• Paint brush or brushes
• Canvas, the size of you print or a piece of foam core

Shop the post

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Steps:

1. Begin by applying a nice coat of Mod Podge to the back of your print.


2. Turn the print over and using a bone folder, side of a ruler, or your fingers, smooth the print onto the canvas board.  Then, apply Mod Podge to the front, covering completely.

3. Once the front is covered in Mod Podge, channel your inner artist and use a brush to mimic how a painter would stipple the leaves and clouds while painting, adding texture where it seems appropriate.  Feel free to use different brush sizes to more realistically create the texture.  Allow the glue to collect in the areas with lots of color variation as well.

Now you just wait for it to dry, I think that’s the hardest part. Once it is completely dry, remove the glass from you desired frame and pop your faux canvas into the frame.

For my art, the card board backing fit fairly snug and held my canvas board in place firmly.  This art is happily perched on a shelf, so I didn’t bother to go any further.  But if you wanted to hang your art, you will want to add a saw-tooth hanger and use some tape around the edges to hold your backing in place.  I usually hot glue the hanger in the center of the top of the frame.  A saw tooth hanger is inherently forgiving. In case you don’t end up gluing it exactly in the center, you can still achieve a straight hanging piece of art on your wall.

I’ve done this several times to prints in varying sizes and have found them to hold up for years. Depending on the thickness of the actual print, you may find the use of a canvas unnecessary.  For larger pieces of art I’ve had perfectly good success with foam core as the backing.

The other fantastic benefit of this technique is the elimination of the glare that would have come from the glass.

Can you think of a print you can makeover? If not, keep your eyes open for the possibilities!

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21 Comments

  • Carrie This Home
    November 15, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    This is a genius idea Leslie! I'm going to have to think twice before I throw away a print or card. Pinning this!

    Reply
  • Ashley @ 3 Little Greenwoods
    November 16, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Such a smart way to add art to your home! Thanks so much for sharing at Show Me Saturday!<br /><br />Pinning and sharing everywhere!<br />~ Ashley

    Reply
  • Cherie
    March 7, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    This is a lovely idea. I have bookmarked your blog. x

    Reply
    • Leslie
      March 11, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Cherie,
      Great! Happy to have you following me in my adventures!

      Reply
  • Sissy
    July 29, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I just found this too late! I applied too thin a coat and it looks very minimal. I wanted more texture. 🙁
    Could I reapply a thicker coat, or would it ruin it?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Leslie
      July 29, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      I bet you could. I would really focus on stippling the glue on to create that texture and maybe avoid “painting” with long brush strokes.

      Good luck and report back too! I’m curious but my gut instinct tells me it will work.

      Reply
  • Vida
    November 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    What a great idea! This is perfect for a couple of prints I want to hang in some glassless frames. The mod podge will seal and thereby better protect them, as well as add texture, and the foam core will fill out the frame better. 🙂 Working on it now. Thank you for sharing this great tip!

    Reply
    • Leslie
      November 27, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Vida, Thanks! It is remarkable how well this inexpensive trick works.

      Reply
  • Linda
    August 2, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Since I am a painter, this intrigues me. I have used mod podge on projects and was searching for what was missing. A smooth, but not smooth glue that has great potential for texture. Thanks for this posting. I can take this to my studio for future mod podge projects that will now have the touch and feel I am attracted to.

    Reply
  • Jodie
    August 15, 2016 at 4:59 am

    I need to go to the thrift store tomorrow and pick up one of those simple pictures no one seems to care about!

    Reply
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  • Floranet
    August 2, 2019 at 5:26 am

    Now, that’s what called Perfection. Keep up!!

    Reply
  • Alisha
    November 2, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    Hi,
    This is one of those projects I’ve had in mind to do for a long time but never got around to doing it and never saw an example of it done. Looks great! Did you really use the ‘matte’ modge podge? Not the satin or gloss? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Kat Haas
    July 27, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    This is such a great tip and exactly what I was wondering! I bought a 5-panel piece of art which wound up being just a print on canvas, not an actual painting. The Hubby was NOT happy with just a print so I was trying to figure out how to add some “dimension” to it so it would look more like an actual painting. I ordered my Mod Podge and will give it a shot!

    Reply
  • Lottie Nolan
    January 9, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Awesome!! I was thinking in my head whether this technique would work. You proved it does. I love the old art prints I find at thrift stores. Hate non glare glass! Genius!! Thank you!

    Reply

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