Post a Reminiscence
I remember REALLY wanting to do a paint by number
when I was about 8 years old but my mother wouldnít
buy it for me because of the clean up mess and she
didnít want me to ruin my clothes. Paint-By
-Numbers were always oil paints.
Now I am an Art Teacher and I constantly ruin my
clothes. I have done several projects using Paint By
Numbers. The best one was The Last Supper. I blew up
the image to about 5'x12'. I divided it into a grid,
cut the grid apart, and then gave each of my 90
freshman students at least 1 section of the grid.
They then colored the image with colored pencils
using the color chart. It was a good lesson on
cooperation, everybody doing his/her part and how to
put this huge work together! We entered it into an
art show at "the other" private high
school. It was a show stopper. We were not invited
back to that show again.
May 1, 2001
After my fatherís heart attacks in the fall of
1971, he started to do paint by numbers to relieve
stress. Over the next several years he finished
several of them for friends and for family. After
his and my Momís death in1981, I received his last
one which he made my Mom. It still hangs lovingly in
my bedroom wall.
May 1, 2001
I loved those things! It was the only way I could
paint a "real" picture. My mom used to buy
them for birthdays and as a treat when I was home
sick from school. I still donít have the talent to
paint, though I love art, and I wouldnít mind
using one of the kits again. Interesting that they
are so valuable now. I antique a lot, but I donít
think Iíve ever seen one of the old kits anywhere.
Ann Arbor, MI
May 3, 2001
Just thinking about it, made me smile. Thanks so
much for the exhibit. Hope I can get to see it. I
never have thought about it since the 50's when we
all "did" it!..I canít remember how many
I did, but it was quite a few. We really thought
they were great! (canít imagine that, now!)
Thanks again for all you do to make our world a
Jean M. Schmidt
May 3, 2001
The paint by number story in the website brought
back many memories to me. I did a lot of them in the
50's. One of my favorites was of two ballet dancers.
I remember one large painting of a wooded stream
flowing under an arched stone bridge, which I kept
on my wall for years. I have faded old snapshots of
these two in my album of memories.
I did many childrenís fairy tale characters for
my nieces and for friends children. I did landscapes
to give as gifts to friends. I kept a few for
myself, but when I left NY for IL I gave them all
away. I was a frustrated artist who couldnít draw,
so I loved working on the paint by number pieces.
May 4, 2001
I am a paint by numbers fan and I remember
working on them as a child. But alas, none of my own
work has survived. I do have a small personal
collection of paint by numbers paintings some of
which I feature in my online gallery at the
following link. I hope you enjoy them.
Dave Porter (aka Del Parker)
May 4, 2001
This leading edge Baby Boomer still has the
Paint-by-number pictures we worked on in the 50's.
My mother was the one who brought the sets home and
enjoyed them the most. She painted three pictures
with a Mexican theme, and I did two collie dogs (in
the days of Tommy Retig and Lassie). We were not
rich, and this was a fun way to spend some time and
also decorate the house. As I kid, I thought they
were great, and still do. The pictures bring back
lots of those childhood memories that we appreciate
more as we age.
May 4, 2001
1962, I was 13
Confined to bed for 2 weeks
No school for 8 weeks
Mom worried about boredom
Brings Paint by Numbers kit
Three panels -
all Asian Ladies in Costume
10 days later I am
Bored by painting them
Finished 2 of the three, somehow
Hanging in our guest room now
Could never part with them
Memories of Mom and a broken ankle
and a more innocent time.
Salem, MA, formerly S.F. CA
May 4, 2001
When I was in 3rd or fourth grade, (c. 1963) I
wanted a paint-by-numbers set because I loved to
draw. Santa brought me one with 2 panels portraying
dogsí heads. But when I opened the box and brought
out the "canvases," I couldnít see a dog
in either of them. I decided that there had been
some mix-up, and Iíd been sent topographical maps
instead. So there was only one thing to do - make my
Now Iím an artist and art teacher, and this is
one of my favorite stories to tell my students who
are struggling to do that in reverse - to see the
small patches of value or color that build up the
illusion of form.
May 5, 2001
Enjoyed your presentation. I have 2 paint by
number pictures that my mother painted in the early
1950's. I was about to dispose of them. Now I will
keep them for others to enjoy.
May 6, 2001
Itís true as you say that we all become
Rembrandts with paint by numbers. The beautiful
sceneís were things that many of us could not
possibly ever do free hand. My biggest and fondest
memories was receiving paint by numbers every
Christmas. To my sister and I Christmas just wasnít
complete unless we received a paint by number.
Staying inside the lines was not one of my good
points but I still had fun. My Grandmother and
Grandfather enjoyed them also. I still have their
paintings and a couple of them are framed and
hanging on the wall.
Thank you so much for letting us share our
Battle Creek, MI
May 6, 2001
Ah, yes. Those paint-by-number sets. My sister
and I even painted tole trays which my mother
proudly displayed in the dining room. Unfortunately
these works of art are gone and we would love to
have them back again - to show off our talent to our
May 6, 2001
In 1953 my brother did a paint by number canvas -
he was newly back from serving in both World War II
and the Korean War. It was a Mediterranean scene
with the color and light that could have been
Etruscan. He presented the canvas to our parents.
That picture hung in our living room in a place of
honor - in our brand new house. It was there past
the time our father died in 1971. It was there past
the time our mother died in 1993. That picture
witnessed the changes in our family for 40 years. It
was one of the prized family possessions that my
brother inherited. And one of the very few he
May 9, 2001
My father was a manufacturers rep in the bottle
and cap industry. Friends and neighbors of ours were
the Sanders family who owned Craftint. One of their
big product lines was paint by number kits. My
father sold them the bottles and caps in which they
put the paint. We always had kits around the house
for years. Craftint was sold and moved out of
Cleveland. A friend of mineís father bought the
Craftint factory and I worked there one summer. My
first job was scraping the paint off the floor of
the mixing room. In 1985 I was looking to buy a
business and a former employee of Craftint had gone
into a similar business manufacturing commercial art
supplies. He purchased a number of the Craftint
lines and incorporated them into his business which
I purchased. We still manufacture some of these
lines today but not paint by number kits!
Larry Katz, President
May 9, 2001
I recently have come across a pair of french
looking women that I vividly remembering hanging in
our home as I grew up. They are in excellent
condition. My mother passed away a few years ago and
most of her things were put into storage. Last year
I purchased a home of my own and took the things
from storage. I found the painting, which were
signed by my mom and dated 1959! I was so happy to
hear you were exhibiting this vintage art form. I
have decided to hang the paintings in my living
May 10, 2001
I saw an article in the local paper about the
paint by number project and it reminded me that I
had written a poem about my picture. Here it is.
May 12, 2001
When I was twelve
By Ronale Anson
I painted a peacock.
Each day a different color and number
First, a titty pink in little shapes
that made no sense. Then
cardinal, a royal brilliance to
off-set the blandness.
Aqua-marine or turquoise, both
q-colors to fill more spaces,
a little structure begins.
A shade a day filled dreary winter
keeping a pre-pubescent mind occupied.
Finally, the deep jade green, the
Ubiquitous eyes ever open
My mother hung the painting
in a place of honor, no less important
than the *Ross Hall photo of the Lake.
*Ross Hall was a photographer in Sandpoint,
Idaho. Many of his pictures were of Lake Pend
Oreille and hung in a lot of Sandpoint homes. These
pictures have become a collectorís item.
In my bedroom, there was a painting of Degasí
ballerinas that was done by my mother. If I remember
correctly, she was very precise in her painting, not
deviating in the slightest from the colors and
outlines. You had to stand back and sort of squint
to get the best effect. My mother also made some
ceramic ballet slippers and my chenille bedspread
had a ballerina in the design.
I find the idea of this exhibit intriguing, and
hope I get to Washington to see it.
May 12, 2001
I havenít seen a paint by number painting since
I was a kid in the 50's. I did my share of painting
by number, so when I heard the story about your
exhibit on NPR, I had to come to the web site and
take a look. What a powerful image. When I looked at
the first painting, all that came to mind was the
smell of the paint in those little plastic holders.
Whew! I am by no means an artist, but I definitely
had fun painting my number.
Thanks for the memories!
Cynthia L. Shamel
May 12, 2001
In the early 50s I had a school chum who was from
a poor family. She saw me doing the paint by number
ballet figures--one a ballerina and the other a male
dancer. I added my own touches to the ballerina to
make it look more "artistic", and my chum
begged to have it. I gave it to her for her
birthday, and she was thrilled, saying that she knew
this was the only real oil painting she would ever
have. Many years later after she married, I visited
her and she had the picture hanging in their little
apartment. I was surprised that she still had it
after all those years. But she still took pleasure
in it, and it made me happy that I had given it to
her. I did some others--a pair of horse heads and
some dogs that I never finished.
But the ballerina was my favorite.
May 12, 2001
In my early twenties I lived In a caravan
(Trailer) park outside the rapidly expanding but
remote iron ore town of Mt. Newman. I was a keen
motorcyclist and an enterprising sales lady sold me
a paint by number kit of a motorcycle that I owned.
The kit depicted a Ducati motorcycle sweeping
through bend. The kit had paint pens (rollerball
tips) instead of brushes and it was hard to get even
textures and colour spread. I still have it
Perth, Western Australia.
May 14, 2001
This is a great idea for an exhibit. Reading
through the other postings brought back so many
memories. Iím a child of the 50's too and I loved
those kits. My father painstakingly painted a large
Emmett Kelly portrait. It was our only
"art" and hung in the dining room for many
years. I can still see the sad clown face and the
great colors of red and green.
I remember working so hard to paint cocker
spaniels - only to have my younger brothers ruin the
whole thing by using the "wrong" colors
and going "outside" the lines. These days
I love coming across this wonderful art form in the
antique and junk shops I love to haunt. And, yes I
too can still smell the paint.
May 15, 2001
Painting by the numbers was my one great
accomplishment as a kid in the Ď50's. I painted
many but the best, of course, was The Last Supper.
It hung in my mom and dadís house until last year
when I brought it to mine. Thanks for the memories!
May 15, 2001
This web exhibit is brilliant! Your selection of
images, your interpretation, and the construction of
the site are all first-rate. The proof is in the
interesting contributions evoked from visitors to
I have a lot in common with Robert Gants. I
remember doing a paint-by-number painting, but I
preferred plastic models to paint-by-number kits.
Like him, I preferred the Revell and Monogram kits
to the others. Plastic model kits were a close
cousin to paint-by-number. You followed the
instructions and ended up with a 3-D scale model; of
a ship, automobile, or of some engine of war. My
models of the Cord Roadster and the Panzerkampfwagen
IV tank survive on the bookshelf in my office.
Having glued the thing together, the rest was very
much "paint-by-number." Of course, you had
to decide whether to mount your aircraft on the
special stand that let it appear to be flying, or to
build it parked, with the wheels down.
But there came a point, (somewhere around
puberty), where it began to feel like a pointless
exercise. I mean, someone had clearly started with a
model of the thing, and then sliced it up into
pieces so that it could be sold as a kit for me to
put back together.
Thank you for a wonderful trip.
Adult Reference Services
LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library
May 17, 2001
I was an artistic child not allowed to do much
art, so in 1968 when Grandma bought my sister and me
PBN sets for Christmas when I was 10. I was
overjoyed. Grandma with her great insight chose for
me ballerinas after Degas, my other unrequited
passion. I carefully filled in every spot under the
watchful eye of my mother - color blending was not
allowed. Mom then sprang for frames (how
extravagant)! I gave my beautiful ballerinas to my
dear Grandma who treasured them until she died, and
now they hang in my sweet daughters room. She will
also enjoy PBN because I found such kits on-line
after a simple search!...She can start next Tuesday
Great Falls, MT
May 18, 2001
In 1962, I was a new single parent and bought the
kit and painted the same painting, which I believe
is titled "Indian Summer" that was
featured in a recent USA Today newspaper article. I
bought it to relax after putting my son to bed but
with over 90 colors and my compulsive nature, I
became obsessed and sometimes painted all night!! A
few years ago, I had it professionally framed (which
partially covered my signature and date) and now it
has a prominent place in my office.
May 20, 2001
I'd like to share with you my memory of a paint
by number set my mother did for me.
It was in the mid 1950's when a poor mother
bought a paint-by-number set to paint and hang in
her only child's bedroom.
She chose a Japanese scene of two geisha girls
(one alone to a board). Painted and framed they hung
in her daughter's room every where they lived for
many years. And then they were put in the attic.
As a child, the daughter would look at the
pictures for long periods of time, thinking how very
beautiful they were. So colorful! So nicely painted!
How proud she was of her "artist" mother!
I still have these paint by number pictures my
mother painted over 40 years ago. They still reside
in their same frames and hang on a wall above a
collection of Occupied Japan articles my father
brought back with him from Japan in 1951.
Cheryl J. Caswell
May 24, 2001
Born in 1947, I sure do have warm memories of
"paint by number." I was the third of 5
children and suffered from acute shyness and a lack
of confidence. I did not have any artistic talent to
speak of but, lo and behold, I could turn out
paintings that actually looked like something.
Never mind all I had to do was follow some pretty
simple instructions. I could PAINT! I spent many a
hour over the years between the time I was 12 or so
and about 17. I was so proud of my finished art. The
last painting I did was "The Last Supper".
I finished a simple frame myself
to go with it and today I still have this
painting. This simple art form helped me overcome my
lack of confidence and shyness and no matter what
others have to say about it I will always be
grateful for it.
May 26, 2001
Your wonderful exhibition inspired me to attempt
a different kind of paint-by-number (ish) art. Here
is the link: http://www.deskdreams.com/Picasso.html
When I served this cake at last night's party, I
distributed a page from your web site and encouraged
the guests to stop by. Many of them are
"serious" artists, and I felt that your
gentle, respectful, and honest exhibit pointed out
the distance between the typical art world and Mr.
and Mrs. Flyover. Your exhibition didn't camp it up
too much or laugh at the people (like my mom, or me
as a child) who took this form seriously. I really
thought it was perfect, and quite charming.
Thank you for devoting space to this lovely bit
Carole Fungaroli Sargent, Ph.D.
Department of English
P.O. Box 571131
Washington, DC 20057-1131
May 28, 2001