How to Find ART on the Cheap!

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April 24, 2019 by kittynh

I love “real art”.  It isn’t that I don’t mind a nice print, but I really like something besides nice saying printed in large letters on the wall.  (I do have a big “LIVE FREE OR DIE” sign as this is New Hampshire and you are required by law to have that).

We all know about framing costs.  I have gladly spend hundreds framing a special bit of art, or a gift of beautiful embroidery.  This is about decorating on the cheap…


Buy Used

Penelopes is the local consignment shop.  When people are downsizing (or dead, let’s admit it, dead), Penolopes is often where the nice stuff ends up.  Items go down in price ever few week they are there.  I love this, as I will go to the biggest discount area and purchase art.  Art that has been expensively framed by someone else, but will fit nicely in my home.



This is a limited lithograph from France.  It has paperwork on the back and it’s OLD.  It’s also signed.  What is important is it was $12.00 and my husband and I love the colors.


The paint was messy on the frame so I just painted it gold.  For around $2, it’s really cute and has a cat in the picture.  .


this is a modern limited edition print of an old illustration.  All the paperwork on the back.  Done by a local framer.  The gold 80’s frame is why it was in the “end of the line pile”. I was going to reframe it, but the frame looks fine in my bathroom.  I love it.  about $6.


Beautiful steel engraving, frame is nice.  $6 also.  She’s not on a wall yet as I need to find a perfect spot for her.





It’s Paris and signed and the frame and matting are lovely.   A bit aged, but I like that look.  Problem, is that it’s not a part of Paris people recognize right away, so it wasn’t selling. I made a low offer.  I like this part of Paris and the flower market theme, so I’m happy.


You have to fill a BIG SPACE, but how?  These tapestries are NOT OLD, nor sadly color fast.  Most you will find are very faded away.  This one also will fade.  The custom frame is so beautiful, and I only paid $15.   It won’t last forever, but it is lovely now and fills a big space.


Put things in frames that are regulation sizes



I like this photograph.  Make it black and white, and grab a Michaels coupon.  Instant art.


I suffer from RA, and have some serious health issues.  My family saw this picture once and were “That’s you mom, always reading in bed and the cat and dog with you!”   What is NOT expensive it to buy after New Years the 70% off calendar with work by the artist.  I cut this out and off to Michaels with another coupon.  Makes the family smile, so don’t forget calendars.


One of my favorites, a post card will fit in most regular size photograph openings.  Even if it doesn’t get a plain color of paper to put behind it and no one will notice.  These are old postcards from the town where I live.  But for GIFTING, the possibilities are endless.  Ebay will sell you a card from where ever you can imagine.  So you can fame a postcard for a gift. 


People that are friends give you art.  TAKE IT!



My friend Chip Taylor has a famous Vermont artist as a relative.  Chip gave me a few pieces of his relatives work.  I found this fit in a nice regular sized frame.  I’ll never sell it. It greets me every morning, reminding me of Chip and also beautiful Vermont.


I was gifted with they beautiful watercolor at the place where I volunteer.  The artist is so talented.  Now this is a hard size to frame.  But I found a floating frame where this looks lovely and cost far less than custom framing.  Floating frames will hold odd sized items.


Someone in our family painted this long ago. No one is sure WHO, but it is of a park in Washington DC.  Is the frame perfect? no.  But I love the painting and it is in the perfect small spot in my living room.  The colors are perfect and it fits in with my decorating.


Need to fill a big space? Move a lot?



When we lived in Brussels we found out where to get nice tapestries at the non tourist prices.  This is HUGE, like over the sofa size.  These tapestries may be new but they don’t fade quickly.  When we moved a LOT with military many of our military friends owned tapestries.  They loved this art as it was “fold and go”.  It’s expensive but not as much as framing costs, and it does travel nicely.  Good gift to bring back from Europe that will fit in a suitcase, but fill up a wall.


One of my favorites.  The William Morris collection is still available.  I bought this smaller size once as a gift for a teacher, and he was going to put it up in the classroom unit this wife saw it.  She was “Nope, that goes up in our house! I love it!”  Not very expensive, if you know where to shop, and another fold and go art for a smaller space. We have this one and several other William Morris ones in our home.  You just vacuum them every few years.



Hire a Local



Check your local art gallery.  Go to gallery shows.  If you see a work you like purchase it.  But if you see an artist with a style you like, you can ask the gallery owner if the artist does commissioned work.  You would be surprised how little it can cost to get a portrait done, and yes the framing cost more.  My friends all had the slightly faded portrait studio photos up, and I was “Why not real art, as little more than a formal portrait price?”


Yes it is my cat, don’t judge me.  My daughter also had drawings done of her cats.  This cat portrait has had not so smart dogs BARK at it!


So GOOD LUCK and fill your walls with art.  Don’t forget the locals, craft fairs and such have many talented locals that would love to sell you at a fraction of what you would pay for a nice print of a Monet.  Don’t forget to ask if they paint commissions.  Why not have your home or your lovely grandchildren immortalized?

ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS? How do you ART your home??? I would love to see.  I’ve only shown a fraction of my peculiar but pleasing to me decorating!


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