The Ultimate Guide to Buying Art from Thrift Stores

If you’re looking for unique and inexpensive artwork to decorate your home but are on a budget, check out your local thrift stores. You might be surprised to find that these shops have a lot of paintings for sale or donation at prices that aren’t too high. And you get to buy them in almost any shape or size—from big uprights to small shingle-style pieces. For some, these pieces are nothing more than pieces of broken frames or leftover canvases. But they can be a work of art that will stand out on your wall.

The first thing you need to check is whether or not it is an oil painting or a print. This can be hard to identify, but you’ll quickly know when you look at it closely.

First, oil paintings are made on sturdy canvases and don’t sag or stretch. They have a natural texture to them. Also, they will have an excellent paint-to-canvas foundation.

Unlike oil painting, a print is usually printed on lightweight paper and will have visible line marks on the back of it or bleeding ink that extends beyond the picture area of the paper. When holding the print, it will also have a glazed finish and crease easily. If a piece is printed on canvas, there should be no line marks on the back of the painting.

Not all antique stores will have oil paintings, but they may have prints by famous artists. You can ask the owner if they have any prints. If they do, then you’re good to go at that store.

Next, you need to ensure that the painting was not damaged during any framing processes. One way to check this is to check for the frame’s original finish. Damage from scratches, scuffs, and abrasions are joint on frames refinished by untrained or inexperienced framers or owners. If a frame is missing its original finish, it may have been refinished by an amateur. Look for artistry that indicates that a professional did the frames’ restoration work.

Moving on, consider the frame. The old and the precious paintings will have their frames intact. However, this does not mean that you should buy pieces with missing frames. This is because the missing parts of a frame may be lost forever because of deterioration or when it is being refinished.

It is best to look for pieces with original frames. Frames can tell much about the piece’s value and condition.

You need to ensure that the frame type is not essential in determining the value. For instance, if you have a piece by a famous artist like Monet, it’s best to invest in his original walnut-and-brass frame because its originality attracts more people. But if your favorite artist is lesser-known, you don’t need originality to appreciate their work. The former may cost a little bit more than the latter.

Another thing that you need to check is the surface condition of the painting. For some people, a few scratches and scuffs on the surface of a painting can be acceptable as long as they don’t affect the artwork itself. However, if you can see some terrific art underneath these imperfections, it is best to buy it because it will be cheaper than buying art with almost no marks on its surface.

Take note that there should be no water stains or other signs of mold or decay. It is also a good idea to check the frames of the art you want to buy from thrift stores. If any screws are missing, it may be because the frames were ancient or because they were being refinished hastily by an amateur during the later part of their history.

If you can determine that a frame was not refinished, you should still be grateful; its originality will imply that it was made at the same time as Monet’s original painting and will have higher value.

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