DIY Art 3 Ways

One of the first things I wanted to do when we bought our house was to cover our blank walls with unique art and decor. I didn’t realize that most of the art I loved was way out of my budget. I didn’t want the same prints from Target or Bed Bath and Beyond that I’d seen a hundred times, as much as I love other things from both those stores. Thankfully, Etsy provides us with a plethora of options these days. But sometimes even a $30 print from Etsy feels like too much. I’ve found a few thrifty ways to imitate the look I want for less.

1. Print something you find online on your favorite wrapping or srcapbook paper.
I knew I wanted silhouettes and just couldn’t seem to create my own, no matter how hard I tried. I searched online and found two free images that I loved. I scrounged around the house and found some of my favorite wrapping paper left over from Christmas. Ridiculous as it may sound, I was actually excited that I’d get to see this paper all year. If I was a wrapping paper, I’d hope to look like this one. When you love the print of paper that much, you should just find a way to use it in decor, right?
I used card stock as my guide and cut the wrapping paper to a standard sheet size. Feeding it through the printer can be tricky. Just keep trying, and eventually it works.

Wrapping paper: on hand
Prints: stock photos from the Internet
Frames: Repurposed from another room
{The “F” is from Anthropologie.}

2. Find a great book and frame the illustrations in a series.
My sweet friend Dana had this great book, Insects of Surinam, that is filled with vivid images of flowers, plants, and an array of crawling creatures. We loved how unique they were compared to stock botanical prints you see in stores. We joked about ripping the pages out and then framing them. Well, she did. Then I did, and now I’m planning to do the same for some clients above their mantle in a formal living room.

From Barnes & Noble. A STEAL.
The hardest part was choosing just four.
TOTAL COST: $73.28
Prints: $5 (my share of the book cost)
Frames: $9.57 each (I waited until Hobby Lobby had 50% sale on frames.)
Custom matting: $7 each (Hobby Lobby)

3. Trace a shape and create your own oil pastel art.

Something about artichokes… Not only are they delicious, but visually they’re so iconic and beautiful.  I’ve seen some great prints online, but couldn’t commit.  I also kept thinking about the Andy Warhol soup cans.  They’re so bright and playful you can’t help but love them.  I wanted to merge these two things for my kitchen art.  I’m not really sure that came through, but these were my inspiration for the artichokes.


I’ve NEVER worked with oil pastels before, so this was a learning experience for me. Since I traced my shape first, it turned out to be easier than I thought.

Total Cost: under $26
Oil pastel set: borrowed
Acid free paper: $3
Fixative to set oil pastel: $5
Frames: $5.99 a piece at Michael’s

Some other things you could fame:
-Your kids’ artwork
-Comic book, magazine, or album covers
-Dried leaves/flowers from your yard
-Beautiful wallpaper
-Collections in a shadow box

If you’ve been frustrated by blank walls or almost passed out due to sticker shock on great art, try to make something you love. You really DON’T have to be artistic to create personal art for your home. It can be as easy as cut, frame, and hang.

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19 Comments Filed Under: DIY, Home Decor

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  • Comments

    1. says

      Great ideas! I love wrapping paper too, and because of our school’s wrapping paper fundraisers, I have a lot. My daughter has picked out a purple, shiny, chandelier print paper to decorate her locker with this year. Yay for using what we already have AND getting to see the beautiful print every day!

    2. says

      I just found your blog via Design Sponge (AWESOME before and after) and I am in LOVE! Your house is gorgeous, and these wall adornment ideas are so clever! I was also happy to see you’re from Texas originally…my husband and I just moved to Abilene from Oregon (aka instant heatstroke) a few months ago. We’re slowly learning the Texan way of life! Xo, Katie

    3. says

      Thanks Katie! I was so excited that my little ole’ chairs made the big time on D*S:) Wow, West texas heat is a whole different kind of heat than the humid swamp of Houston. I realize whenever I go home how often my hair finds its way into a pony tail. Texas heat = hair meltdown.

    4. Anonymous says

      For the artichoke prints, it looked like you used oil pastels, and not watercolors. For the future you could try combining watercolors and oil pastels. If you use oil pastels first, and then add the watercolors on top, a lovely resist is achieved. It does take a little experimentation though as the results can be unexpected. But that is also part of the beauty :)

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