Another Shocking Thing You Never Thought You Could (or Should) Paint

A few weeks ago, I went to a yard sale of a guy who sells antiques.  It was a cold morning, and he was dragging out lots of art from his garage when I arrived.

elsa richter artist


 He told me he was trying to get rid of a bunch of art that he hadn’t been able to sell in his booth or on Ebay.  I scored multiple pieces for a great deal.  This original oil painting was only $3.  It was well-done, I thought, even though the color combination (yellow-gold + orange) wasn’t my favorite for my house.  

dated floral oil painting


The frame was gold with black flecks, with green and beige inset fabric in two places.  The frame style dates the piece to the early 1970s and just looked dingy to me.  I painted the entire frame with Martha Stewart metallic glaze in gold:

painted gold frame


I know this is going to be shocking to some of you, but I decided to “remove” the orange from the painting so that it would work better in my kitchen.  I am NOT a painter (of this sort) and can barely draw a stick person.  However, I did this a few years ago for a client who had a painting her aunt had done in the early 1970s.  It also had orange and gold-yellow in the painting.  We chose a raspberry pink color to cover the orange, and it turned out pretty good. I decided on just kinda going all yellows on this one.  I grabbed some craft paint from my hobby room:



And I got to work.  I really thought I had completely ruined the painting at one point.  You know how they say it’s important to know when you should stop?  Well, sometimes it important to know when you should just keep going.  I kept going and finally came out with something I was really pretty happy with: 

update art

 after “updating” 


So, Elsa, I apologize for desecrating your oil painting with my children’s craft paint.  But I will really enjoy it now in my kitchen!

updating dated art


I’m really glad I found her lovely painting!  What shocking things have YOU painted lately?


  1. Susie

    What a great idea! I would not have thought of that.

  2. Michelle Burke

    Looks great! Reminds me of when you touched up the lady in the portrait.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Oh gosh, I totally forgot about that, Michelle!

  3. Margaret Maggard

    Fantastic idea!

  4. Julie

    Painting the frame alone made it look like a completely different piece, much brighter!

  5. Michelle L.

    Love that! What a great idea! I may be heading to my own attic!

  6. Kathi

    That is brilliant, Kristie! I love to reinvent just about anything with paint, and I will definately remember this!

  7. Beth

    Great idea. It would take a little courage, but when you score a deal, it’s certainly worth the risk. Now I need to go garage saling…..

  8. Susan Silverman

    That is a great idea. I’m sure I could go through my stash and see if anything is salvageable.

  9. Kimberly Wright

    I really thought you were stopping at painting the frame. What a great idea- and one I’d never heard of or thought of! And what encouragement for me who also “can barely draw a stick figure”! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  10. Karin Hensley

    Sorry, Elsa, but this looks MUCH better!! Way to go, Kristie!

  11. Kathy Cutforth

    I’m an artist and this sort of thing bothers me, but I admit it turned out well. I would recommend glazing over the original with varnish to isolate the original and then glazing on top with paint, perhaps oil which is usually more transparent than acrylic anyway and possibly easier to remove later, or better yet a type of water-based paint like restorers use.

    I think changing the frame alone made a big difference. Was the orange that horrible?

    Better than being thrown out with the trash or buried in the basement I guess, but you never know, you might have something valuable there. Witness all the folks with old paintings on Antique Roadshow–some worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and many aren’t the big names most people have heard of.

  12. Mariann Roach

    Always read and enjoy your blog as I am in similiar business. I have a large oil above my living room sofa that needed a pop of red to flow better with my other colors. So because of your blog, I got out my acrylic paint and spruced up the flowers and other places with shades of red. It looks so much better. Thank you for the inspiration. Mariann

  13. Pat

    What a great idea. There is a lot of art like this in yard sales. You wonder what you could do with it. Now you have inspired me. I love what you did with the frame.

  14. Kay Kennedy

    I just used Martha Stewart’s gold paint on a built in shelf in my dining room. I brushed (and then wiped)it with silver to tone it down a bit. It looks beautiful.

  15. Kathleen Steenson

    I did this once, also. Had a large “schlock art” painting purchased from Target in 1974, a scene of birches on the shore, and softened it up with white acrylic dry brushed. Really liked the misty look it took on. Painted over the “artist’s” name (writ very large), too!

  16. Vivienne G

    Love this idea and love your results. I so wish you would have created a short video for people like me to see some of the “how to”.

    • Kristie Barnett

      You would laugh so hard if I had done a video. I kept adding more layers, different colors, on and on because it just seemed “off.” Really thought I had ruined it until I added some brown for shadows. Bingo! That finally did the trick 🙂

  17. debbi in Texas

    turned out great; kinda like paint by number; I’m looking for stored away artwork now to paint….

  18. Julie

    I am an artist, and while some might see this as sacralige, I think you’ve just contributed to this painting’s life. How many original, nicely worked paintings have we all seen languishing in junk stores or in yard sales with colors no one uses anymore? It was not a Van gogh or other such painter :), so I think you are safe to ‘tweak’ it. Consider it ‘collaboration’! Good job!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you for your comment. I do like to think of it as contributing to the life of the art. And it certainly had languished in an antique booth because of the color (of both the frame and the painting). The guy I bought it from tried Ebay, too, so his yard sale was the last stop for that little treasure. Collaboration – yes! 🙂

  19. Orphan A

    Found this because E Richter passed away at the age of 100 this year. She was a good Christian lady ,known as Mama Boos to Orphan Home Children. She would have forgiven you. She taught me in one of her many painting classes. I would have liked to have the original, but since it is gone, I will just say thank you for showing the original in your pages. If you find any more please let me know.

  20. Karen M Waugh

    Dear Orphan A – Elsa and Boos Richter were dear friends and fellow Christians to my parents in McMinnville, TN while I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. My dad loved nothing more than fishing in Florida and one of their favorite vacations for many years was to the Richter’s Florida home on Ana Maria Island. I have four beautiful oils that Elsa gave/sold my parents that have pride of place in my home. I will try to post one. My dad particularly liked Elsa’s capture of Alligator Alley in south Florida. And if the Orphans home you speak of is in Spring Hill.. it may have been the Richters who suggested it to us when I decided I had outgrown the horse my grandfather gave me at 11. Lucky was beautiful and positively kid proof as I had put as many as six on him at one time. We gave him to the home in Spring Hill where he had rides to give, plenty of pasture and lots of love for many years.

    • Orphan A

      The home was in Spring Hill, the book, (“ KIDS FROM THE HOME” A HISTORY OF… 1909. – 2009
      Sharing Faith, Hope & Love by Mary Holder was published in 2009.

  21. Kit

    Evidently you don’t know acrylic paint will not last when painting over oil paint. It’s ok to paint oil over acrylic, but. It the other way around. Definitely don’t put varnish over what you’ve done.


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