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Tutorial: Vintage Upcycled Art


I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. I can count on less than one hand the number of weekends we’ve spent in our house (without guests) and without plans since we bought said house almost 6 months ago. Luckily, this was one of those weekends, and I’ll be sad to see it go.

But enough about that, today I’m going to show you how to make custom art that looks expensive but is really free (or close to it) for your house!


We’ll start with an old or ugly piece of art that you want to spruce up. We all have one of those generic paintings from Kirkland’s circa 2003 with french writing or flowers on it laying around, right? Borrrrrring. Let’s make something that is unique instead.

This particular piece was passed down to me from my dear friend and former roommate several years ago. It wasn’t her style either, but for some reason I ended up with it and it’s been with me ever since.  As in, we’ve moved four times since then. It was about time this faux painting made itself useful.

I wanted a new sign for my laundry room and since we are Razorback fans, I decided to paint one of the old Razorback mascots with the words, ‘Hog Wash.’

Get it? Man, I am hilarious.

Let’s get to it. Start with your canvas or wood that you are going to paint. Wood would actually work better for distressing, but canvas was free.


If you need to, prime the piece with a solid color. I simply sprayed mine with a few thin coats of Krylon white primer

*Keep in mind, that whatever background color you paint your canvas/wood is the color that will show through when you sand the top color off.


After the primer has dried, paint over it with your desired top color. I painted mine red. The paint shouldn’t be too thick and doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re going to rough it up a few steps later anyway.


Next, decide what design you want on your new canvas and draw it on top. You could also freehand the design as you go, but I’m lazy and like to trace it on beforehand.


Someday I’ll show you my super easy and cheap tracing method that doesn’t require any tracing paper or graphite.

hog_wash1 hog_wash2

Then paint the design on to the canvas with a thin layer of acrylic paint. Acrylic works well for distressing, and dries really quickly which is good for a project like this.

hog_wash4 hog_wash5

After the paint has dried, lightly sand over random sections of the canvas. This is where working on wood would be better, because the canvas was too soft to fully distress. Keep sanding until you’ve reached your desired look and wipe off all the dust with a clean rag or damp paper towel.


The final step in making your sign look aged and worn is staining it. I used a can of Miniwax Wood Finish in Dark Walnut that I already had.


With a staining brush, apply a thin layer of stain over the entire piece. hog_wash7


Let it sit for a couple of minutes, and gently rub the stain off with a clean rag or paper towel.  hog_wash9

Repeat the process as many times as needed until you get the ‘antique’ look you’re after. I think I did two or three coats overall with some extra stain around the edges. 

Let dry for at least 24 hours

After the canvas is completely dry (no longer sticky to the touch) hang and marvel at your beautiful CHEAP masterpiece!

Much better, right?

hog_wash_before&after hog_wash1hog_wash2

Can you tell my laundry room has horrible lighting? Hopefully you get the idea.

Happy painting!

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