decorating,  junk,  thrifting

The Painting I Rescued From the Trash

Here’s some advice to live by: always go for a walk around the neighborhood the night before garbage day.

Trust me!

You never know what treasures you might find just sitting on the curb waiting for the garbage truck to be discovered.

Earlier this fall I took one of these walks. It was late afternoon. The air was crisp. The leaves were still glorious. There wasn’t a soul in sight.

That’s when I spotted it.

Do you see it?

A painting sitting with a pile of trash at the end of someone’s driveway.

They’d left it there to be collected by the garbage truck.

Or me.

Their intent could have gone either way, but I definitely think they had me in mind. More or less.

As much as I love rescuing items from the trash, I find these moments to be incredibly awkward.

There’s no nonchalant way to inspect someone’s trash.

Plus, I had to overthink decide if I REALLY wanted the painting. The above picture is deceptive. The painting is actually quite large – maybe 18×20 inches.

Some of you tease me for my overthinking, but it was justified! I was well over a mile from home at this point on my walk. That meant I was going to have to carry this painting for at least 20 – 25 minutes. Did I want it that bad?

Yes. Yes, I did.

One of you is probably thinking, “She could have just walked home and came back in her car for the painting.”

Aww, thank you for that helpful commentary.

Yes, I could have done that, but I would have risked someone else rescuing this painting from the trash.

Now one of you is probably shaking your head and thinking, “Bless her heart. She thought someone else was going to take that painting.”

Yes. That was a real possibility I considered. Since the thought of not having the painting filled me with regret, I decided my only choice was to walk the painting home.

So, I picked the painting up, tucked it under my arm and with fake nonchalance continued on my walk.

Or course, that’s when EVERYONE, and I do mean everyone, decided to walk their dog. It was like a party in the street and I was the entertainment.

I tried not to make eye contact with anyone I encountered and it won’t surprise you to learn that I made it home in record time.

When I arrived home, I was pumped to tell the family I found a free painting.

What can I say? It was the most exciting that had happened in awhile!

Handy Husband didn’t comment, but he did give me THAT look. You know the one where the husband realizes he’s dodged a bullet or in this case dodged an embarrassing walk home with his wife and a large painting.

My children’s question was, “How do you know it was free?”

Well, kids, it’s like this. You yell, “finder’s keepers” and then you run and see if someone chases you.

Kidding. I didn’t tell them that! That would be bad parenting. I told them that famous story, Twas the Night Before Garbage Day.

The painting had a high quality wood frame, but the gold color wasn’t quite my style.

Normally I would have spray painted the frame and celebrated my 5-minute makeover.

However, about that time is when the weather turned cold and nasty. I don’t have a place where I can spray paint in the winter. Also, I really wanted a stained wood frame on the painting, not a painted one.

That meant I needed to sand the frame.

How hard could that be?

Famous last words.

As it turns out, the paint on a high quality wood frame is no joke. I have a power sander, but it’s way too big to tackle the nooks and crannies of a project like this, so I was stuck hand sanding it. I lost count of how long I spent, but at some point when I had 96% of the gold paint off, I called it quits. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have tried to strip the paint. Oh well, that’s skin off my fingers water under the bridge.

Here’s how it turned out after I stained the frame…

It looks so much better, right? I love it!

I hung the painting in a weird nook in our bedroom where the laundry hamper is tucked away. Since we have zero art in our bedroom, I thought this was a pretty addition to the space.

The painting is not signed, but there’s an inscription on the back of the painting that says, “Rockport, Mass. with Hannah, May 2011.” I don’t know the origin story of this painting, but I’m glad its tale is not finished. Perhaps if I ever give this painting away I’ll write the story of how I found it on the back for the next person to discover.

Have I convinced you yet to always take a walk the night before garbage day?

Oh, good. I’m happy we had this talk.


P.S. As a side note (my stories always have a side note), I must explain the aloe vera plant on the window ledge. The plant’s real home is on my dresser, which I still haven’t shown you, but the light isn’t great over there. I move the plant to the window periodically to get some sunshine. I probably should have moved it out of the photo, but today you get a dose of real life. There are probably dirty clothes in that hamper too. You’re welcome for that mental picture.


This isn’t the first time I’ve scored free stuff out of the trash! Read on…

Trash to Treasure: Patriotic Wreath

Trash to Treasure: Art for a Boy’s Room

3 Thrift Store Finds and 1 Garbage Find

How NOT To Make Book Pumpkin (with a book from the garbage)

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