Thursday, January 2, 2014

What To Do With Bad Thrift Store Art #1

Detail from "Ugly City" -A Reclaimed Thrift Store Painting
A few months ago we started gathering bad thrift store art. You know, the stuff you find at the Salvation Army store. The stuff painted by some one's nephew or the little blue haired lady down the street that should never hang on the wall (and it does not, which is why you find it at the thrift store). Well, our family thought it would be fun to resurrect these "gems" and have some fun along the way. This is the first of what will be sporadic posts on how to take those bad thrift store paintings and make them into good ones. First up: Ugly City.

"Ugly" City- Before
Ugly City- After- 12" x 48" Acrylic by Greg Newbold (and S. Adams)
I stumbled on this one at the local Assistance League thrift store and could not pass it up. It screamed to have something fun added to it. The good thing about thrift store paintings, especially the bad ones, is that nobody wants them and you can usually pick them up for just a couple of bucks. Since Christmas was coming, I thought I would surprise my son by adding some of his favorite Ugly Doll characters to it. We are big time Ugly Doll fans at our house. If you are not familiar with these plush characters, you can check them out at the Ugly Doll Website here.

Dave Loves Bacon
They are adopted in to our home and become part of the family as evidenced by Dave here enjoying his favorite food- Bacon. Dave is one of our favorites, so it made sense to add Dave and some flying bacon to the scene to replace a few of those lame birds (no offense to S. Adams, whoever you are).

Babo's Bird needed to join the remaining birds in the sky too.

Babo loves cookies, so he needed a nice big one to nosh on. On a technical note, painting on top of thrift store paintings poses a problem in that there is no way of knowing exactly how the original was produced or in what medium. I did a test- I cleaned it. I was pretty sure that the original medium was acrylic or acrylic based spray paint, since the water did not bead up on the surface when I washed off all the dust.  That deduced, I figured it was safe to paint the new characters with acrylic. Had it been oil, the water probably would have beaded up a bit and I would have then painted over the top with oil. Taking someone else's work and making it your own is a tricky balance. In hindsight, I shouldn't have put both green characters next to each other in the composition, but by the time I got down to the last couple of characters, it was too late to switch them. Overall, I had fun and my son was both surprised and amused. He could never guess what that long skinny gift was under the tree. Well, at least not this year anyway. Next year might be a different story. I have other thrift store "gems" in the wings that I will share whenever they happen to get the rescue treatment.


Lark said...

So fun! I love what you did with this painting. The Ugly Dolls definitely improved it.

SoarsLikeAnEagle said...

Well Done, I think this could be a fun challenge, kind of like the ABC art by committee challenge that James Gurney does on occasion. Thanks for the bit of upbeat fun in the new year.

Amy said...

This was a brilliant Christmas surprise! I love how it turned out with Ugly Dolls frolicking through the cityscape. Nice job!

Bill said...

This is a great idea. What a fun and creative way to rescue art.

But I have to say (sheepishly), I kind of like Ugly City (original). Sans the birds it would be quite nice, I think.

I suppose that means that if I were a painter (mercifully, I am not) I might be generating source material for you. :)

Will said...

I hang it on my bedroom wall with pride. Thanks Dad!

Unknown said...

Thanks Everyone! Bill- Everyone has their own preference in art. That's what makes it great. I don't pretend to appeal to everyone, so it's fine that you liked the original version. I't definitely not the worst of the thrift store art I have found, but it worked for this project. I just do what I like and hope other people like it too. It's working pretty well so far! Will- you are welcome! I hope you love it for a long time.