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.
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.
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.
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. – LOVE this one! The artist even left her son some “empty numbers” to paint as he would like.
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.
I have one on my mantle!
And actually, I just bought this little beauty on Ebay for the gallery wall in my girls room.
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?
What do you think of vintage Paint By Number art? Do you have any in your home? In your family?