Want the look of beautiful vintage art without the price tag? Try this little trick to make an art print look like a painting!
If lighting is the jewelry of any room, art is the facial expression. The smile, the smirk, the encouragement, or the wink. But if beautiful art isn’t in the budget, what’s a girl to do?
Actually, sometimes even when beautiful, original artwork is in the budget, I recommend this little trick as a place holder until I (or a client) can find the perfect piece. Curating artwork takes time… and it’s nice to have something that can still make you smile in the meantime.
It is also a great option for places where you don’t want to risk damaging original artwork, like in a kitchen or bath.
Let me be clear, I am not the first person to do this; the idea has been floating around for several years. But since I used it again recently, I thought it might be fun to share with you my own little spin on the project plus some tips on where to find beautiful, free art prints.
What kind of prints should you use?
This technique is best used on oil painting prints, but any high quality prints can look more authentic – and less like, well, a print – with this little hack. The print can be done on paper or card stock, though I recommend card stock because it has less chance of bubbling. And a full-color laser print (I usually print mine at the local print shop like FedEx, Staples, or Office Depot) works perfectly. I have not done one on a home printer, but I have seen some people do that successfully, as well.
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How to Make an Art Print Look like a Painting
Gather your materials:
- art print
- small paint brush
- Mod Podge
Get the look of vintage art with this little craft project!
- Find a piece of art (that is not copyrighted!) and a frame for it
See below for ideas on where to find free art prints and download a high resolution photograph of the piece. Your frame does not need any glass, but you should have a backer board. You can cut one from foam board if needed.
- Print your artwork the right size for the frame
Use a laser color printer and print on card stock, if possible. Regular quality paper will work, too.
- Paint on the Mod Podge to create brush stroke texture
You can paint in random patterns with your paintbrush if you want (it will still look better than a laser print), but I like to paint little strokes as though I’m tracing the painting. It feels like a more artistic project for me and the texture looks more authentic. Don’t put it on too thick or the paper may get too wet and create an air bubble.
- Let dry and repeat step 3 if desired
See how you like your texture. You can always add more.
- Attach the print to the backer board of the frame
Using spray adhesive or a glue stick, attach the print to the backer board, being careful to press down firmly to smooth out any wrinkles.
And here is a little video (strangely mesmerizing if you ask me!) in case that’s helpful.
What Kind of Mod Podge Should you Use?
Mod Podge is basically just paintable glue that dries clear. The first time I used this technique, I tried a matte finish, but it actually didn’t provide enough sheen and texture for my liking.
Then, when I was creating a print for a bathroom (where I was concerned moisture might damage the paper), I decided to try the exterior Mod Podge and never looked back. It provides just the right amount of shine and I feel like the print is more protected.
Where to find Art Prints
Now for the fun part: finding a piece of art that you want to use. I probably need to write an entire post on this in the future, but here’s the short version for now. The copyright on all artwork, even great masterpieces, expires after a certain number of years. When that happens, the art is considered part of the public domain, which means it is free to use and reproduce!
I have several favorite resources for public domain artwork, including the following (be sure to check the search function for Public Domain, if applicable):
If wading through museum artwork online isn’t your thing, then you can always try shops on Etsy who sell a digital download of many of these same prints for small fees (and bonus, they are already formatted for different print sizes for you). You can see some of my favorites here.
Here is another post where I shared a few of my favorite free art prints of landscapes and seascapes.
I hope you enjoyed this little trick to DIY faux oil painting!