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.
What would you do?
Leave me a comment and tell me. Please.