Paint By Number – The Everyday Rembrandt

 

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I would be interested to know how many of you would have known instantly what the above paintings were if you had not read the title of this post – just curious on what the age range is on knowledge of this type of “Everyday Rembrandt”.  

Have you seen “Paint By Number” paintings before?  If you frequent thrift stores, resale shops, flea markets, or estate sales, chances are good you have come into contact with this type of craft.  Or maybe your Mom was a PBN connoisseur?  Or your grandmother?  Hugely popular in the 1950′s and 1960′s, the first Paint By Number kit was revealed at the New York Toy Show in 1951.  Though sales were slow in the beginning, by 1954, over twelve million kits had been sold.

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I find them fascinating for a few reasons.  First of all, it was time consuming to paint all of those little sections.  You can almost tell how “into it” some people felt – if they patiently colored each section or breezed through just to get it done.  My favorite is when you find ones that are signed like original pieces of art.  I love it!  I would probably sign them too after painting in all of those tiny number sections.

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Though you can still find a ton of these paintings using this search on Ebay and this search on Etsy, they are getting harder to find and more expensive as time goes on, and they become more collectible.  Since I have gallery walls on the brain, I like the look of people using the vintage paint by numbers with that goal in mind.

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Country Living

Country Living

happydogsplay.com

happydogsplay.com

The Rug Company

The Rug Company

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Amy & Joe Keller

Amy & Joe Keller

Shannon Berrey Design

Shannon Berrey Design

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Country Living

Country Living

Country Living

Country Living

Of course, someone has to take it to the next level by painting entire wall murals based on their favorite Paint By Number pattern.

Tutorial for this project here.

Design Sponge

Design Sponge

 

Tutorial for this project here.

Easter Kiwi

Easter Kiwi

 

Tutorial for this project here. - LOVE this one!  The artist even left her son some “empty numbers” to paint as he would like.

Katie's Pencil Box

Katie’s Pencil Box

Yes, they look great as a gallery wall, terrific as a wall mural, but even if you just have one, they bring a pleasant feel to a shelf.

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I have one on my mantle!

Image by Kat Phillips, TheGrayAttic.com

Image by Kat Phillips, TheGrayAttic.com

And actually, I just bought this little beauty on Ebay for the gallery wall in my girls room.

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In fact, there is such an interest and (dare I say, a cult-like following?) in collecting these pieces, there is now an online Paint By Number Museum.  (air quotes around “museum”)  If you have one of these, you can find out if it is a valuable one or not by entering the information on the site.  Truth be told, there are a bajillion of these out there (you can get them anywhere from $5-$40 from what I have seen) so there are not many that are worth much.  But who knows?  You may have one of the really early models!

Of course, if this is simply too kitsch for you, maybe you could do a Paint By Number sweater?

Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

What do you think of vintage Paint By Number art?  Do you have any in your home?  In your family?

Written by Grace

16 Responses to “Paint By Number – The Everyday Rembrandt”

  1. Muffet January 18, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I believe I have PBN that I bought at a garage sale As a child. It is a bear on a branch and I paid $1 for it when I was 12. The artist had signed it and since I am from a small town I actually taught at the same school with her years later.

    • Grace January 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      Muffet! I think I know the exact PBN you are referring to! Wow, great style at 12??? ;) That is really cool that you and the artist connected later on, too. I LOVE stories like this! xoxo, G

  2. Tiffany January 18, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I love paint by numbers paintings. There is something so beautiful about them. There is one hanging in my grandmothers foyer that hopefully I will inherit one day! Loved this post.

    • Grace January 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Hi Tiffany, I totally agree! I like how the colors coordinate between the different patterns also. Thanks for taking the time to comment! G

  3. Liz January 18, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    So fun! I love the throw-back feel they give..it’s like a hug of nostalgia.

    • Grace January 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Liz, I think so, too. Colorfully aged nostalgia, perfect!

  4. Cathy January 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    I’m 59 . I loved to PBN as a kid.
    Wish I had one of my “originals”.

    • Grace January 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Cathy! I love it! Well, it’s sad you don’t have one of your originals, but maybe someone is enjoying them somewhere! :) Thanks so much for reading, Grace

  5. Amanda January 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    I have a very healthy collection going. I am an avid thrifter and one caught my eye a few years ago….obseased since then!!! I even get them as gifts from my most awesome friends!

    • Grace January 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

      Oh cool, Amanda! I’d love to see a photo of how you are displaying them! G

  6. Jodi January 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    I just “inherited” an unopened floral PBN from my grandmother. It’s so sweet.

    • Grace January 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

      Jodi! How cool! You should totally complete it! xoxo, G

  7. Melissa January 20, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I had not really thought about PBNs, however, I read this post, and yesterday I went into the Goodwill that was next to a store I was going to and guess what? A PBN picture that is perfect for my bathroom–tropical parrots! I love it, thank you Grace

    • Grace January 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      Oh Melissa, that makes me so happy! I love it! Send me a photo! Thanks so much for your comment and for reading, G

  8. Janet Bowman January 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Yes, I have done painting by numbers — waaayyyy back when I was very young. I was in my local hobby store just looking around and thought I would see if they may have some paint by number kits (thinking probably not!), low and behold I found several and picked one that I liked bought it, brought it home, but have not yet painted it — can’t wait to get it started — this has inspired me to get to it quickly!!!!! Thanx for sharing these.

    • Grace January 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

      Hi Janet, oh I’m so glad you found the kits! I didn’t know they were still around, but I bet it would be fun to do! So happy you were inspired, thanks so much for reading! G