Guest Post: Art Attack

Today we have a guest post from Amanda the Teen Librarian at Herrick District Library (MI) on her program called Art Attack.

Looking to spice up your art programs at the library? Don’t have the money to hire someone to teach oils or pastels? Look no further! Thrift shop art!

The idea was inspired by artist the David Irvine ( when I saw some of his paintings floating around Facebook with the title “This Guy Paints Random Characters into Old Thrift Store Paintings.” I thought that they were not only hilarious but that teens would love it and could totally do this and so an idea was born.

The hardest part was finding the right art and at the right prices. We have about ten thrift stores in my area and I ventured into at least five of them. I limited my budget of not spending any more than $5.00 on a painting and was surprised to find such good prices on most of the art! I actually only spent $5.00 on two pieces and some I even got for as little as $0.80.

I picked up 25 different pieces which allowed teens to have a choice on what they could use.

Here is a breakdown of costs:
25 Paintings on average of $2.00 a piece= $50.00
Paint Brushes= previously had purchased
Paint trays= $20.00
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint Tube 48-Piece Set (which was beyond plenty for 20 teens)= $30.00
Total: $100.00

Now this may seem like a good chunk of change for just one program and for many libraries out there, it is! However, there are some cost effective strategies you can use to launch this program without as much of the cost.

First supplies. Check out what you might already have. Maybe there are paint brushes stored away and/or the paint trays.

Second, paint. I chose acrylic paint as it won’t flake and is a much easier medium to use than oils. You can find all different types of acrylic paint out there and in bulk. Instead of getting a 48 piece set, you can have teens mix paint colors to get their desired hue.

Third, art. Ask for donations! You’d be surprised at how many staff members have stuff collecting dust in their basements that they’re willing to give away. Also check out garage sales. Most of the time you can get even cheaper deals than at thrift stores and can even bargain. Another great idea is to purchase calendars! 12 photos for the price of one! You may not be able to use acrylic paint on it depending on the shininess of the paper but sharpies will work well in this case. We did have two teens who brought in their own thrift store art from home too, so that is always an options as well.

Finally, the supplies you purchase today can be used tomorrow for future endeavors!

Nessie Doughnuts Minions

So how did I run the program? In our teen programming room, I set up each piece of art around the room and as teens arrived they walked around and picked out their piece. After sitting down, I explained who David Irvine was and showed his art work on our projector screen. I also streamed some 90’s hits in the background which they totally dug! Then I had teens sketch out what they wanted to draw before getting down to the painting. When they were ready, the picked up their water cups, brushes, and paints.

Beach Worm IMG_0133 Dino

I also HIGHLY recommend having a screwdriver on hand. Some of the paintings had frames with plastic and glass and were tough to get out! The screwdriver helped to “break into” the back of the paintings. I also made each of them promise if we found a treasure map or $1,000.00 behind them, we got to split it, haha. The program itself lasted two and a half hours, which was just about perfect. Their art was amazing and they all had a blast!

Bookcase Spidey Waterfall


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