Aged Photos on Reclaimed Wood

This project from The Complete Book of Mixed Media Art is the perfect way to add some vintage, rustic charm to your home decor. It’s a beautiful and unique way to display your favorite photos.

Reclaimed wood serves as a backdrop for photos centered on a theme. Here the theme is “trees,” but it can be anything you see recurring in your photo collection. In addition to finding old photos that fit this theme, you can use several different techniques to age digital images before they are placed on the reclaimed wood. Once finished, display your aged photos by hanging it on a wall or setting it on a table.

Artist: Isaac Anderson


• Acrylic gel medium or clear, low-sheen protective spray
• Archival glue
• Earth-toned paint
• Fine-grit sandpaper
• Low-sheen or matte inkjet photo paper
• Photos (both printed and digital)
• Paper grocery bag
• Solid, flat piece of reclaimed wood


Step One: Find a reclaimed piece of wood with a solid, flat surface worthy of displaying your photos. Keep an eye out for places to find wood you can reclaim. Old pallets are a great material that can be found just about anywhere. Check with local businesses or contractors for pieces.


Step Two: Go through your old physical and digital photos to find images (or portions of images) that fit a specific theme, such as “trees.” Crop your images, focusing on the portion of the photo that relates to the theme.


Step Three: Age digital images by converting a color image to black and white, and then print them on recycled paper. Increase the contrast to help the image stand out on the darker-toned recycled paper. Shown here is an image of a young boy from Myanmar printed on a brown paper grocery bag.


Step Four: Manually distress other digital images. First print a photograph on low-sheen or matte inkjet photo paper. Then brush or spray your image with a coat of clear, low-sheen protective spray. Once dry, distress your image using fine-grit sandpaper. Brush on a light coat of diluted earth-toned paint, wiping off any excess so that it creates a translucent tint on your photo. Reapply a clear protective coating or thin coat of acrylic gel medium (preferably matte).


Step Five: Arrange your photos and use archival glue to place the images on the wood. You can apply a clear matte or
low-sheen clear finish over the panel to protect your reclaimed work of art.

Artist’s Tip

To print on a brown paper grocery bag, cut or tear a section of paper from the bag. If the paper isn’t flat, lightly moisten it and iron it on a flat surface before running it through your printer, through the “manual feed” slot, if available.

Buy from an Online Retailer






The Complete Book of Mixed Media ArtFeaturing a wide variety of mixed media techniques, including drawing and painting, stamping, stitching, ephemera, encaustics, collaging, journaling, and more, The Complete Book of Mixed Media Art is the perfect resource for artists exploring the many ways they can expand their artistic horizons with mixed media art. Each technique is presented with simple step-by-step examples of how to wield basic art tools and materials to effect both traditional and cutting-edge mixed media concepts. Artists will not only learn a variety of new concepts and techniques, but also discover how to apply them within their own mixed media projects. With so many techniques to choose from, The Complete Book of Mixed Media Art will inspire artists of all skill levels to explore the many ways they can get started with the ever-evolving, ever-popular mixed media art form.