Help Me Save This Art

A few weeks ago, I bought a painting at one of my local thrift stores.  Or rather, I bought the remains of a painting at one of my local thrift stores.  It’s pretty beat up.  😦


It was leaning against the wall of the store, outside, near the donation bin.  It looked like trash.  Or at least, it looked like what someone else had decided was trash.

To me, it was a charming treasure and I wanted it.  I decided I would go inside and ask.  If I could get it for $3 or less, I would take it home.

The cashier came outside with me to survey the scene.  It wasn’t pretty.

The painting is separated from its wooden stretcher in several places.  The canvas has holes where the nails have ripped through.



There are bare spots where the paint is completely gone and several more areas where it is flaking away.


The decorative outer frame was sitting ten or twelve yards down the sidewalk.  It’s in pretty poor shape too – structurally sound, but badly scuffed and really chipped.

Ignore our dusty piano in this picture.



The cashier stared at all this for a minute before looking at me quizzically, but then she just scooped it all up and carried it into the store.

I followed as she wound down the aisle and into the back room where another woman was pricing merchandise.  The two of them spoke quietly for a moment, then the first woman turned back to me and said “$2.99?”

Five minutes later, I was in my car with a severely damaged painting and a head full of “what am I doing?”

So, now I ask you.  What am I doing?

I love the scene.  The cows charm me and the colors are serene and comforting.

But this painting is coming apart.  Really coming apart.

Can I save it somehow?

And can you make out the artist’s name any better than I can?  Cyril something.

What would you do with this?  Please don’t say “use it to wipe my boots, then chuck it.”  I’m serious.

I considered taking it to a restoration specialist, but I flat out don’t have the money for that, and honestly, it may be too far gone for them to mess with it anyway.

I also thought about adding a coat of polycrylic to preserve what is left, but I am not a fan of that shiny finish.

I saw a DIY project online for recycling damaged paintings.  It suggested cutting out the good parts and tossing the rest.  But re-stretching the newly cropped pieces or mounting them onto wood or plates or whatever doesn’t really appeal to me.  The parts I like best are the most damaged sections.  I don’t want to just cut them out and throw them away.

I also wondered about the simplicity of just flattening the painting behind glass in hope it doesn’t flake any more, but the flakes might stick to the glass and it would be in worse shape than before.  And really, I don’t love this kind of art behind glass anyway.  I think part of the experience of appreciating it is in seeing the texture as much as the entirety of the scene.

All that said, I did only spend three bucks, so whatever happens won’t be a tragedy if it’s not successful.

Any ideas?

What would you do?

Leave me a comment and tell me.  Please.





12 thoughts on “Help Me Save This Art

    • I thought of that too, Morgan, but my skill set is sadly lacking in this area. If I can’t think of anything else to do with this, I will try that. For $3 it’s a well priced practice piece I suppose.

  1. Gosh Becky, this will take some thought, thing is, I like it too. The frame is no problem but the painting…let me see how I can help. Will get back to you. You amaze me with your thrift store finds!

    • Yes, I figure the frame will be easy enough to update or even completely repurpose if the painting is a loss. There were people in line with me at the thrift store who had ideas about the frame. Everyone was perplexed about the painting though. Ha!

  2. Hi! I saw this post because Lori shared it on FB. I asked my girlfriend (since she has painted) for her opinion. She said if you want to seal it, you might want to try the matte sprays available for charcoal drawings since it will seal it without making it shiny. She also mentioned that she was taught that green is one of the most fragile colors (more delicate than others and can alter the value of a painting due to that fact). I will share your post in hopes that some of my artist friends will respond. I think this would be a great piece for Antiques Roadshow! 🙂

    • I didn’t know about the matte spray. I will look into it! I would sure prefer that to the shiny poly. Funny that you mentioned Antiques Roadshow. I was just wishing I could ask one of those guys for advice! Heh heh. Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

  3. I love it! Unfortunately, I do not know anything about art restoration. It would be fun to find the artist, though. I couldn’t see the artist’s name. Which picture shows it? Does the last name appear to be a long or short name?

  4. I love a good mystery. The investigation part is SO fun for me. Would it be possible for you to post a closeup photo of the artist signature? I want to try to figure out who painted it!

  5. My friend’s mom does art restoration and suggested this (since you want to display it as is)- “Glue that mama down. She could trim edges and shellac -flaws and all – that thing to a nice piece of stained wood thus preserving the remaining image for the long haul and getting herself a one-of-a-kind convo piece that makes her happy.”

    • That is the way I’m leaning…mounting it to a piece of wood or another canvas board or something. I just wish I could think of a way not to have a shiny surface…that’s my only hesitation. I guess it’s a dumb hesitation since I’m only out three dollars. I should just do it!!

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