Artist Adds Pop Culture Figures to Thrift Store Paintings

david irvine
david irvine / david irvine

Artist David Irvine of the Gnarled Branch makes all kinds of of interesting artwork, like painted upcycled vinyl records, sculpture, and even puppetry. He also finds old thrift store paintings and adds his own unique touch to the landscapes. These remixed paintings feature pop culture characters, animals, and creatures you've seen before—just not like this.

The project started years ago when Irvine was a struggling artist. He would frequent thrift stores for old, discarded paintings he could use for art supplies. He would reuse old frames and paint over canvases that would otherwise be thrown away. Irvine first got the idea to use the pre-existing art after finding a particular landscape on one of his trips.

"One piece I came across at a yard sale was a seascape and for some reason I had a vision of two reapers standing on the shore playing with a beach ball," he explained in an e-mail. "I painted in this vision and posted it online where it sold immediately and generated a big response—I knew at that moment I had to start a series of redirected paintings along with the other types of artwork that I do."

Irvine is careful to respect the original art and artist (as much as one can when repurposing a piece), and never paints over signatures. He explains:

Over 90% of the work I redirect are prints on board or heavy paper with the remainder being originals on canvas or anonymous paint by numbers. I take great care in touching up any damage from sun bleaching, scratches or buffs, before I add in any of my own ideas. I also do research on each work before I begin paint, to make sure it's not a valued work. Most are generally mass produced and have little historical or monetary value. In many of my redirected works I try to emulate the original by use of similar brush work, coloring and rendering style.

He also tries to avoid cleaner, nicer pieces that might still be being purchased and enjoyed. Instead, Irvine looks for worn and broken artwork that he can breathe new life into. You can check out more of his work on Facebook and Etsy

All images courtesy of David Irvine.