Paintings – Vintage and Thrifty Styling for the Home

Welcome everyone to the final post in our five-part mini series Vintage and Thrifty Styling for the Home. It’s been a while since we last met for inexpensive decor in this post, so let’s begin this week with a look at Paintings for the thrifty home. For many years I have said to friends “I don’t think I get art”. Paintings I mean. Oils especially. I don’t look at a painting and share that far off thoughtful look others have. Often I cannot fathom why particular paintings qualify as amazing art at all. Perhaps my art gene was replaced with the faffing one, who knows. Over the years though, I have collected paintings and prints that in time have grown to reflect my personal style. So I thought today I’d share with you a part of my ‘painting’ collection. I’m all set up ready; a private viewing if you like. So perhaps we should make a start…

I have very dear friends who occasionally take me along with them to art galleries to view a particular artists exhibition and together we listen to captivating audio about the artists, their lives and their paintings. I thoroughly enjoy learning why he or she painted in a given style and understanding something of the conditions they lived and painted in, is quite fascinating. Each time I find myself wondering if I will see any paintings I would give anything to own. On one such outing we visited the Royal Academy of Arts in London to view Manet’s exhibition. His painting Portrait of Berthe Morisot is particularly memorable for me. It depicts a fellow painter dressed in a black mourning dress. By using hues and varying tones of black oil on canvas, the material of the dress appears to me to be real. I realised the red ropes in front of the paintings are not solely to hold back inquisitive children; given half a chance I too would have touched it to feel the heavy linen cloth of material. Yet I don’t actually like the painting. It’s too sad and dark and cold for me and I certainly would not wish to see it on my sitting room wall (or indeed in my elegant and earthy entrance hall, which I one day hope to have). No my walls are adorned with my style of art which has evolved over the years into something very different to Manet’s. Take this painting for example…

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It was on a shopping trip for junk furniture a long time ago when my wonderful friend pointed out this pretty painting.  We share a love of junk furniture that needs new life; she does not share my taste in paintings. So there was no need for any “no no, you spotted it first” or “it would definitely look better in your home” banter. I scooped it up and called it good. Yes it was grubby and the garish gilt frame was a little too shabby even for me. Once home it was out with the cotton buds and wipes followed by a quick coat of a tester pot of something Farrow and Bally on the frame and this little gem was on the wall by supper. You’ll recall, I’m all about the quick win. If asked to comment on what I see here and why I like it I would say, it is a pretty, happy, still life showcasing so many of my favourite roses and flowers and all set in a background of beautiful restful greys and creams. And was my thrifty nature appeased? At just five pounds it certainly was.

And then there’s this little gem. This small and inexpensive oil painting which again perked up with a little coat of paint around the original brassy frame, is a particular favourite of mine. This kind of oil I do like and a neutral frame also strikes the right chord…

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It matters not which corner of which room you put it, it shines. Currently it’s paired up with my dalmatian watercolour charity shop find. I don’t tend to do dalmatian decor just because we have The Spotty One. Although on this occasion I liked the idea of a chalk pink paint frame in my sitting room which just happened to tie in rather nicely with the many pretty pinks in the oils. Maybe I do get oil art after all.

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My lovely friend found this next painting too. We have run out of wall space until we renovate and build so for now this little gem is gathering dust under a bed. Soon she will have a home…

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I recall my friend pointing it out and saying something like “you could do something with that couldn’t you?” I’m sure she thought I’d touch up its imperfections or at least do something with the frame and I did intend to. And then I liked it at the top of the stairs in our previous home and I decided it might not look so lovely smartened up. So I left it as is and I kind of prefer it like this, imperfections and all. When I went to pay for this there was no tag so I asked the junk shop owner what he thought was a fair price. He looked from me to my friend and back to me. “It’s damaged love” he said like I perhaps hadn’t noticed. When I told him I liked it like that, he shrugged and said he would take a pound for it. They shared that look Mr M uses often around me, so I quickly scooped up my prize and headed off to the car. Over the years my friend and I have had many a trip like that. Wouldn’t do to like the same pretties now would it?

This is my newest watercolour painted on board…

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My first two paintings have each been with me over ten years, maybe even as long as fifteen. They were cheap as chips, consigned to the junk shop, rubbish if you like. This next little beauty however came from a vintage store no less. It’s price tag a little heftier than the others. I think my style of art maybe catching on. It is a rare day that Mr M accompanies me on a vintage shopping trip. Like many husbands, he struggles to differentiate between vintage and junk. If I am honest, my thrifty nature is not too comfortable with the disparity in their prices either. Yet if my eyes see a vintage gem, if I walk around for a while and still need that gem in my life, I will remind myself I’m buying from a commercial venture and bills and wages need to be paid. Then I may just part with the cash. That’s what happened here. And I haven’t been disappointed yet. She’s settled in a few places so far…

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And finally, a very real and true story of how junk has become vintage in a short space of time. Although may I say, how anyone would see these beauties as junk in the first instance is beyond me.

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First photo, first purchase and found shoved at the back of a tatty basket in a charity shop, £3. My thrifty heart skipped a beat. A few years later, the second purchase, found at a country fair, £15. Ok, so people are waking up to the idea La Redoute’s botanical prints look wonderful in the vintage home. Maybe you may have to pay a little more for one these days I decide. Perhaps this is how junk gets to become vintage. And then the final one for my collection of three. With a price tag of £45…we are clearly at vintage now. So I do that walk, the one where I wonder if I can live a full life without it. And I decide I cannot so I go back and it’s gone. And my collection stays at two and the disappointment is immense. And then one day, not so long ago on another wonderful day out with my friend, she says it again. That “you could do something with that couldn’t you?” thing she says. So I turn the picture over and before I’ve even seen the price tag, my mind is made up. This one is coming home with me. Is this how junk becomes vintage? Maybe it is. What I am sure of however is that for me £12 was a fair price to pay to complete my collection. What do you think? x

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