With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart: Paint by Numbers

Friday, February 20, 2015

Paint by Numbers

Paint-by-number kits... do you remember them? Have you completed one?
This Playful Kittens piece was painted by my mom in 1954 and truly a piece of Americana.

The oil colors are still vibrant and bright.
I stood it behind both a gold frame and a black mat to see how it would look.
(Photo source Paint by Number Museum)  Here is the artist, Dan Robbins, sketch of Playful Kittens.

 There is an interest in collecting vintage paint by number (PBN) paintings and kits are still available and popular today.

In 2001-2002, The Smithsonian American History Museum had an exhibit highlighting the paint-by-number fad in America beginning in the early 1950's by engineer and owner of the Palmer Paint Co., Max S. Klein and designer, Dan Robbins. Though art critics denounced this craze, millions of people as well as celebrities were fond of these kits. The Eisenhower Presidential Library included pieces completed by Nelson Rockefeller and J. Edgar Hoover.

Following the death of Max Klein in 1993, his daughter, Jacquelyn Schiffman, donated the Palmer Paint Co. archives to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. The archival materials have been placed in the museum's Archives Center where they have been designated collection #544, the Paint by Number Collection, and are available to both the public and museum staff for research and exhibition purposes.(source)
I gathered the photos for the collage above from the internet because they are paintings I remember both my mom and aunt completing and displaying in their homes.
This grainy photo of my sister and I posing for her prom shows PBN paintings in the background
Thinking it might be fun to paint one myself, I bought a kit.  And fun it was!  Not much artistic or creative ability needed but I found it a very relaxing and enjoyable activity.  Like coloring or doing a jigsaw puzzle. (Kits available today use acrylic rather than oil paint)
I looked forward to moments I was able to sit at the table and allow the thoughts and concerns of the day to disappear as I applied color and watched as the scene slowly came alive. Sometimes I would choose a different color or blend two colors together using the lines and directions as just a guide. 

And, yes, it is framed and displayed on a wall in our home.
In 2008, a private collector in Massachusetts assembled over 6,000 paint by number works dating back to the 1950s from eBay and other American collectors to create the Paint By Number Museum, the world's largest online archive of paint by number works.

In 2011, The Museum of Modern Art in New York accepted four early designs of Paint by Number by Max Klein for its Department of Architecture and Design, donated by Jacquelyn Schiffman.(source)

Whether or not paint by number kits curtail an appreciation of art or the skill and talent of creating individual pieces, there remains an enthusiasm and joy in the hobby as well as a desire by many to collect completed paintings. Over the years, they have brought enjoyment to hobbyist and when completed, proudly hung in homes with a sense of accomplishment.

By the way... I have just ordered my second kit as I join millions of other Paint-by-number fans!


Debbie Huffaker said...

I haven't thought about these in years. Where did you purchase yours? I adore the Cardinals!

marie said...

I loved doing Paint-By-Number kits as a child. I remember doing a pair of kittens, and then hanging the finished paintings in my bedroom. Wish I still had those!
How special to have the sweet painting done by your mother. I think I like it best in the gold frame.
Your cardinal painting is beautiful...I LOVE the colors. It looks wonderful against that blue wall.
I look forward to seeing what you paint next!

Lorrie said...

I've never done a PBN but I remember my mother working on one in the evenings. A pair of paintings, I think, of mountains and a lake. Good memories.

Barbara F. said...

We had two paintings in my childhood home. One was of deer, don't remember the other one. I love your cardinals, they are my favorite wild bird. Have to look into this style of painting.

Lea said...

How interesting, I loved PBN when I was an older child and haven't thought about it in years. Thanks for resurfacing some fond memories for me.

Happy weekend!

Deb said...

I remember loving these when I was young. The one you just completed is so beautiful. Certainly frame-worthy. Deb

Maryann said...

I didn't even realize they still sold these. This brought back a lot of memories, I used to do these when i was growing up. The cardnial painting is really pretty

podso said...

I remember my grandfather doing these, It must be very relaxing as you say. the colors certainly look different today, as in yours. It's not so obviously at PBN. You did well at mixing up some of the colors. Looks good framed too.

Ann said...

I remember paint by number kits. I'm pretty sure we had some hanging in our house when I was growing up.
I know I did some when I was a kid too but I don't think mine ever turned out very good.
Your cardinal painting is beautiful

Just a little something from Judy said...

I clearly remember these paint by number kits, and I totally forgot about them for years. Only you, could take them and make them look like something everyone would love to have hanging in their homes. The one of the cardinals looks like an oil painting. So beautiful! Thanks for the walk down memory lane:)

Debby Ray said...

Oh yes...I remember them well...cn even remember smelling that oil paint! I love it that you have them in frames all these years! Have any Elvis Paint on Velvet pics hanging around?? lol :)

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

Oh, boy, are you taking me back, and in such a pleasant way. I never did paint by number pictures (I think my mother didn't want to contend with the mess), but my neighborhood best friend did and she would sometimes let me paint a color or two. It was pure magic watching the picture come together in the end. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

lindsey said...

I certainly remember these from when I was young and your mother did a great job with this one!


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