Monday, May 29, 2017

Thrift Store Art Supplies and The Lisa Mermaid

I am a lover of thrift stores! There's just something about hunting for hidden treasure that I love. I get this from my mother who has always loved thrift stores. She and I can spend hours on a Saturday morning on the hunt for something special. 

About a year ago, I found one of those treasures, canvases for 99 cents each! There were probably 50 of them, I bought 10. The canvas was covered with a piece of faux brown suede. People tell me that they were probably used in a sound studio to muffle noise. It is a 16 x 20 inch canvas which is a nice size.

I took the fake suede cover off  and found that underneath was some thin green foam, about 1/4 inch in thickness. Here's the foam after I removed it. 

Unfortunately they had glued down the foam in certain places and the foam did not want to come off!

I tried everything, a knife, a razor blade, acetone, sanding paper. I was able to get almost all the foam off but that glue must have been made from the stuff they glued the Apollo 13 with, because nothing I did even made a dent. I had several big blobs of glue!

I was taking an acrylic art class at the time, so I took it to class to get some advice from my art teacher, Alex. Alex said, "Well, if you can't remove it, make it part of your painting. Try some mixed media. Paint the glue blobs to be 3-D rocks." Brilliant Alex....just brilliant! Why didn't I think of that.

I happened upon a YouTube video on how to use tissue paper to create art. The video below is from Amy Pearce at Her Art from the Attic. It's amazing and now that I've watched it again I think I am going to try this one today.

I figured that the tissue paper would give the canvas enough texture that you wouldn't notice the lumps where the glue was so I added the tissue paper and again showed it to Alex who said that it looked like waves in the ocean and I should try doing an ocean painting! Brilliant! So I painted it like this to start with. 

If you look closely you can see the lumps where the glue was.

I set this aside for several weeks and one day I happened upon another YouTube video done by Angela Anderson at Angela Anderson Fine Art. It was a tutorial on how to paint an Ocean Coral Reef and lo and behold, I already had the basics of it done!

Following along with Angela, I was able to come up with the painting below. I knew I wanted to add a mermaid but because of the ridges in the texture the tissue paper, I was scared to try it. I usually draw my subject in with white kids chalk and the ridges didn't allow for smooth drawing. By now the art class was over so I didn't even have Alex for ideas!

One night I held a paint night for myself, my sister Lisa and our friend Lupe. We try to get together every few months to paint, de-stress and just spend time together. Lupe had found a picture online that she wanted to try to paint and when she saw the ocean reef painting she insisted that I take the mermaid picture and use it. I loved it, it was perfect. Thank you Lupe!

The great thing is that the mermaid is not facing me, so I didn't have to deal with trying to draw a face with all those ridges. So instead of doing a drawing first I just went for it and painted her in.

So here she is, my finished painting which I am gifting to my sister Lisa because she is a true mermaid, a lover of the sea, the ocean, the beaches and anything oceany!

I give you The Lisa Mermaid!

Here's a close up of the mermaid herself. I used some glitter paint in silver and white for her tail. You can't really see it here but her tail glistens with glitter. I also used a glitter paint that dries clearly on her skin, so her skin glistens. She's absolutely beautiful.

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the other 9 canvases that are covered with suede! Yikes! Any ideas?


  1. Alicia, whatever you do (writing, and now painting) you do it right. You're very clever and talented. I envy you , in the good sense of the word. I also envy you for your wonderful "accomplices": your sister Lisa and friend Lupe.

    The mermaid is a fascinating painting, and so is the process that you describe.

    1. Thank you DUTA! High praise coming from someone who is such a great writer! I love your blog posts and you always create so much conversation from your followers. I know I am very lucky to have my "accomplices" Lisa and Lupe, these are very encouraging and it's fun to have interesting people to hang around with.

      I'm glad you liked the mermaid and the process. It's been in the works for about a year now and I never thought it would come out as well as it did. I'm still a beginner but I can definitely see that I get better with practice.

  2. I love it. It was quite the experience watching this painting evolve.

    1. Well I am really happy you love it, since it's yours! I enjoyed doing this one, even though it took me forever! :)


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