Touching Up a Vintage Painting - Juniper Home

Touching Up a Vintage Painting


I love painting and wish I had more time to dedicate to it. It’s really relaxing, and there’s something so refreshing about going into that pure creation mode. It’s a nice counterbalance to all the over-thinking and drawn out time lines that happen with interior design. :) I usually paint flowers or landscapes, just for family and friends, but I would really love to take a portraiture class this year. I’d love to paint portraits of my own kids and I think it would be cool to make portraits for really special gifts. If anyone has any leads on great painting classes here in the city, I’m all ears!

On a related subject, collecting vintage portraits is sort of a trendy thing that I never really got on board with. Maybe I’m too sentimental and it seems a little strange to hang paintings of strangers. Then a couple weeks ago this beautiful vintage portrait caught my eye as I was leaving the Chelsea flea. Isn’t she pretty? I love the colors and I like her thoughtful expression.

I had already spent almost all my cash that day so I almost didn’t ask the dealer for a price. I thought for sure she would want at least $100 or $200, even though the painting needed some restoration. She wanted $15! SOLD!

When I got home I pulled out some oil paints in the colors that had flaked off on her dress.

It was a pretty easy fix. You sort of just lightly mix the colors you need with a palette knife and then place the colors down.

I added the swipe down the middle here. Because I didn’t overmix there are highlights and lowlights that give the fabric of her dress some depth.

The next step was to sort of feather the new paint into the old.

And the painting was fixed in about 5 minutes! Easy!

Obviously I wouldn’t have tried this with an expensive painting. Valuable art that needs repair should go to a professional restorer. But since I only spent a few dollars on this painting, I didn’t mind trying to fix her myself.

She might be a stranger, but she makes me smile, so she’s welcome to hang out on our walls. :)
What did you think?
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40 thoughts on “Touching Up a Vintage Painting

  1. I know just what you mean! I always feel a little odd having other people's art on my walls. But I just love amateur paintings. I think they're so charming, so I buy them anyway! :-)

    Love this portrait! Really beautiful, and I'm impressed with your fix-it-up job!


  2. It looks great – well done on the restoration and the bargain! I feel the same as you about collecting paintings of other people. I especially don't like the ones where the subject looks straight out at the viewer – it's like having a stranger look in through a window into your house. But this one is more about the atmosphere than the actual person and I'd have picked it up as well :)

  3. Beautiful!! I have a handful of portraits and they are so special to me because my great-grandmother painted them. I really, really want to start painting (just for fun) because my great-grandmother and my grandmother did and I love having their pieces in my home. But, as you say.. it takes time!

  4. Nice job- I like the character that an oldportait adds to a space- and it looks great on your wall in combination with the modern button piece!

  5. This is such a beautiful painting and you did na excellent job at restoring it to the previous glory:) If I had it in my home I couldn't helo but wonder who is this woman and what is her story:) lovely find!

  6. What a great idea :) I spot portraits like this all the time at Goodwill & thrift stores but never thought to touch them up myself. If nothing else it would make great practice for using paints. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This post is so timely for me because I just picked up a couple of vintage paintings at estate sales that need some "work." Time to break out the oil paint. I actually like vintage portraits – I have one of a rather proper lady who looks like she stepped right out of Peyton Place. Love it. I just tell people it's my Great Aunt Mayme.

  8. I love this painting! Love more that you got it for such a price, and then restored it yourself, making it your "own". Congrats. I want to buy amateur discards too! :)

  9. That is awesome! I personally love the character that vintage paintins/portraits bring in. I choose them based on if they remind me of someone I know and love. The two I own, are awesome and I love them to death.

  10. What a steal! You did a fantastic job touching her up. I'm with you on thinking it's odd having "strangers" hang on your walls but sometimes you find something that just speaks to you! Love the colors in the portrait!

  11. It looks great -especially on that gallery wall! Good luck with finding a portrait class. I studied art at BYU, but never got around to taking a portrait class and now I wish I had. I tried painting my baby girl earlier this year, ( but I feel like it's pretty amateurish looking. There's a lot more I could learn! Maybe someday I'll take a class too.

  12. check out Chris Anderson, she gives private lessons and has an amazing studio. my four year old loves their lessons together. just google Chris Anderson NYC and you will find her and her studio.

  13. I'm so glad that you gave her a new life! And thank you, I mean really THANK YOU, for adding the bit about professional restoration. I work part time for an art conservator and I can attest to the importance of the right materials and training for valuable artwork. But for that sweet lady with a chip off her shoulder? Bravo!

  14. Very pretty… did a fabulous job ! I collect vintage and new paintings. I love portrait painting and have done portraits of all my children. I too thought it odd to collect “stranger,” and have them hanging on my walls. I have a few now that I really love! Two, I have had to do a touch up restoration. I am very please with the new life I gave them! Happy collecting !

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