Post a Reminiscence
Loved this site and the photos of the old PBNs. We were stationed
in Alaska during the 50s and early 60s and the winters were perfect
times for working on PBNs. We would normally get them from Montgomery
Wards . . . about the only place we shopped while in Anchorage
and what a happy day when the packages arrived. Dad, Mom, my older
brother and I all had moments of thinking we were great artists
. . . I still have three: cocker spaniels, retrievers and ballerinas,
framed identically (made by Dad). Like many other responses I
have read, these served as art and were well loved. Since my parents
and older brother have now passed on . . . the PBNs are beautiful
November 6, 2001
My name is Rosario Dorbecker, and I live in Saltillo, Coahuila
Mexico. My mother used to sell Craft Master Paint by numbers art
paintings. I was only 12 years old when I began painting by numbers
a set of three scenes from Suburbs of Paris. I own a kindergarten
and wished we could have number painting back so we could initiate
young kids in painting. If there is a place where we could get
them please let me know. Wonderful times where we would stay home
and paint surrounded by my loved ones.
Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico
November 20, 2001
We were probably too young to really do them right. I remember
being too sloppy to make it look good, and getting that "soft
focus" look on my rather insipid kittens. But I was very
happy with it at the age of, what, 8? And most of all, I remember
the smell of the oils. That was a happy, wonderful smell.
November 21, 2001
In the 50s my father was a "Stationary Steam Engineer"
(a euphemism for a boiler room operator). He had risen above an
impoverished childhood to provide a small new Cape Cod home in
the suburbs of South Plainfield, New Jersey. Dad worked swingshift
and spent a great deal of time alone in a noisy plant where he
monitored the boilers that produced the steam for the manufacture
of Wrigley's chewing gum. Forced to leave the opportunity for
a formal education to support his brothers and sisters, he was
a life long learner with an insatiable appetite for fine art.
He had had some exposure to oil painting from artists he befriended
in Paris during WWII and sent several of their paintings home
to the states. He yearned for an experience to develop his own
talents. Paint-by-Number became his tutor and in between the rounds
he made on his graveyard shift at the plant he would set to painting
one kit after another. Dad recorded the number of hours it took
him to complete each painting. Among the things he was most proud
of was Da Vinci's Last Supper and a clipper ship in full sail.
I became his greatest patron at the time and later became an art
teacher graduating because of the tuition he paid with that swing
shift job. He saw to it that with a second job I had the opportunity
as a college student in the 70s to visit his beloved Paris. Long
after the scent of linseed oil left my nostrils, the inspiration
of the pride he took in his paint-by-number canvases remained.
For now as a principal in Bristol, Tennessee I try to encourage
young people to develop their talents and I know that his love
for creating, the pride he took in his craft left me with the
desire to inspire others.
D. J. Raines
November 23, 2001
I did my first paint by after I was 60. I painted the "Last
Supper" with 42 oil colors. This wasn't my first but have
done well with them. I changed the green paint for wall to make
for a little more contrast. I got all my straight lines straight
and it now hangs on my dining room wall with a small floral display
above it. It is a striking display and I am proud of it. You may
not have to be an artist to do this, it takes considerable skill
and a lot of diligence.
James A. Joyner
December 2, 2001
I will never forget the strong, sharp, almost sickening odor
of the Paint-by-numbers oil paint. To this day, I associate that
smell with the idea that you need four or five different browns
to paint a dog. The smell of the paint is inseparable from the
rest of the PBN experience. It would be wonderful to have a scratch-'n'-sniff
paint smell card for people attending your show when it goes on
the road. Thanks for the many, many memories.
December 12, 2001
PS -- I eventually took up painting with no numbers, but only
with watercolors and acrylic paint. I could never get rid of the
association between the smell of oil paint and the five-color
Hi there, my name is Rob Avina. I have a story about paint by
number's to share. It actually started about 15 years ago. My
dad, is a quadriplegic and he did a paint by number, of the sea,
and some rocks, and he did it with his mouth. It took him months
to do, and I always liked the painting. So flash forward to about
2 years ago, I was driving around looking at garage sales with
a friend of mine, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a painting.
It was the same painting as the one my dad had done many years
earlier . . . or so I thought. On closer inspection, and after
comparing it to the one my dad had done, it turned out that it
was a view that was aimed several feet to the right of the same
seascape that my dad had painted. It was also a paint by number,
but it wasn't nearly as good. I now have both paintings, and they
hang side by side as they were meant to. If you are accepting
pictures of paintings, I would love to send one in for posterity.
Thanks for this forum.
December 18, 2001
I remember our family painting those paint-by-number pictures....what
a joy it was to see what you could paint! I think Mom would finish
up what we did not quite finish, though.....too bad they are not
available today....I think they would be better for kids to occupy
their time than t.v. or other sedentary activity.
December 22, 2001
Read your article in "Friends" and my mind immediately
went back to the cold days in Minnesota, when we stayed home due
to the inclement weather. My mother bought this for me knowing
I got cabin fever if I had to stay inside for any length of time.
I have the Da Vinci kit, "The Last Supper." While painting
this it was hard to put it away until the next day. The more I
painted the more I wanted to stay in and complete it. At the time
of painting I felt a waver of calmness. I am 74 years old, it
has been framed, in my possession for about 40 years now and to
this day every morning I look at it with reverence.
Mrs. E. J. Hughes
December 27, 2001
Just looking at the front page of your web site brought back
a rush of memories. When I was about five my grandfather suffered
a stroke and was advised to do a number of crafts, including paint
by number, to help rehabilitate his right arm and hand. I can
remember seeing his paintings and thinking how odd it was for
a man his age to suddenly want to take up painting. Both of the
scenes on the front page of your web site eventually hung in my
I didn't realize until I was much, much older that my grandfather
had actually been quite a good artist before the stroke, working
mainly with pencils and charcoal; in addition to making decorative
drawings, he also drew precise blueprints. I wonder now how he
must have felt as he laboriously and painstakingly filled in the
colors on those paint by number scenes! But now I understand fully
why my grandmother prized them so much.
R. A. Butters
December 31, 2001
I was fortunate to have seen this exhibit at the Smithsonian
over this last weekend. It was wonderful. I only wish it was even
larger, as I wanted to see as many examples as possible.
My memories start with my first PBN set which my mother bought
for me to keep me occupied while she watched both of the national
political conventions when Eisenhower and Stevenson were selected.
It was large and a bowl of flowers in a large urn.
This started 50 years of paint by number projects, including
the pictures, but metal wastebaskets, letter buckets and trays
as well. Since that time I do enjoy television, but I can't just
sit there, and this is when I do my PBN, needlework and quilting.
Thank you so much for bringing this hobby national attention.
I am hopeful this will bring the hobby back with more choices
of kits available. Since 9-11 now that people are rethinking their
priorities, and spending more time at home, perhaps this will
be something they can also enjoy.
January 2, 2002
I remember many paint by number sets for birthdays when I was
a kid. I loved the bird ones. They reminded me of the bird figurines
that my grandmother collected. She was purported to be the only
possible creative or artistic source from which I could have inherited
my love of art or any ability. Funny, I never associated paint
by numbers as anything other than painting. I mean, I didn't think
less of it because the lines were there. When I sketched before
any painting, it was the same thing to me. Also, I loved the little
brushes. Even now I have to remind myself to use big brushes,
too. Oh, I just thought of something. Maybe "Paint By Number"
was the 50s like "Amazing Glaze" is now. That's when
you paint on ceramics and they glaze and fire it for you. I'll
have a lot to offer if that show comes around in forty or fifty
Good luck. Thanks for the memories.
January 3, 2002
Thanks for your web site on paint by number. I have a paint by
number picture hanging over my fireplace. It was done by my now
deceased grandfather. Although it appears gauche to some, to me
it's a fine memorial to my grandfather who lived his life as a
Christian gentleman. You might say he lived his life within certain
guidelines -- the same way he painted.
January 4, 2002
My Mom and I 'painted' many pictures together and separately
when I was a kid. For many years after, whenever we saw a particular
shade of blue, we would both call out to each other, "Look,
I am not likely to forget either the hours we spent together
nor will I ever forget that special color #22.
January 5, 2002
What Fun!! I'm glad Paint by Number is getting some notice. It
was a fun thing to do and gave many people a sense of accomplishment.
Also training in patience and following directions. I have no
doubt but that Paint by Number encouraged many people to appreciate
Art and some to even go ahead on their own. I was married in 1951
and had a family of 5. I remember buying the sets for my children
as well as painting a few myself. I'm sure there are a few put
away around here somewhere (I never throw things away). At the
time I couldn't afford to buy tubes of paint, so it was nice to
get all of the colors needed in the set. I always appreciated
the time spent when people "showed off" their paintings.
Now my house is home to many fine original oils and watercolors
and I am also a painter and have shown at the New Mexico State
Fair Fine Arts show etc. Just last month a lady of 93 showed me
her large PbN and it truly was very nice. The Lesson is "never
look down on another persons work even if you don't like or understand
it!" Paint by Number included.
January 12, 2002
I must say that even though I grew up in the 80's, long after
the pbn craze, I remember coloring the small pbn's printed in
the Sunday Comics of the Ashland, KY newspaper. As I recall, the
numbers corresponded with a color list which I used crayons to
color in the tiny spaces. I always looked forward to the Sunday
comics because of this. Believe it or not, today, I am the owner
of 1-2-3 ART where we transform photos into paint-by-number kits.
I have a following of customers who order our personalized pbn
kits made from photos of their family members, friends, pets,
etc. The photo paint by number product is an addictive, fun activity
that gives you a sense of completion and pride, not to mention
a family heirloom.
I would love to somehow be a part of the Smithsonian 'road exhibit'
if possible. I'm not sure how to do this. Thanks for any information
you can give me.
January 24, 2002
My grandmother was a paint by number person who must have painted
over a 100 pictures. Craft Master once called her to do a interview
and but she turned them down cause she was scared of anyone coming
to the house, I presently have 3 of her pictures ,1-Blue Boy ,
2-Pink Lady 3- a Norman Rockwell not sure of name.
I am wondering if they are of any value besides sentimental value.
I do have photo pictures of her work and believe she was probably
there biggest customer. By the way when she was finished painting
the picture my grandfather would frame them. Is there any one
you would know that I could contact at craft master or craft house
to see if they would be interested in them please advise.
Thanks in Advance,
January 24, 2002
Today I had my debut on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) radio, the
subject being Painting by Numbers. Two weeks ago the 50th anniversary
of Painting by Numbers was featured on the This Morning show broadcast
across Canada. I e-mailed back to say that 15 years ago I purchased
an oil paint by numbers kit at a flea market and it had been sitting
under my computer table collecting dust. Two days later the Halifax
CBC Producer called and asked to interview me. He came round,
we did sound effects and I talked about the painting called Toilers
of the Sea, produced in 1961. It is 18 x 24 inches and has 40
color pots. Most of the paint has hardened but with the help of
thinners and the CBC I am now painting and enjoying the process.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
February 6, 2002
My husband saw a show on television about paint by number paintings
and told me about it. I have many paint by number paintings I
have done, all back in the 60s and 70s. How do I find out if anyone
is interested in them? My husband use to work at GM on the second
shift and after the kids went to bed I would wait up for him and
do my paint by numbers. I've been told by many people they look
like a real picture painted by an artist and I use to take them
to the Fullton County Fair and win ribbons on them. Of course
some have been scratched trying to store them over the years,
but some are in good condition.
February 7, 2002
Hi I went to the store looking for a paint or coloring by the
number and could not locate any, so I came home and went to the
computer and that's when I got your web site. I was nine years
old when I received my first set, Venus Paradise, and it kept
me busy for hours and it gave me a sense for pictures that has
followed me to this day. Are they available anywhere???? Thanks
February 9, 2002
I remember the only paint by number set I ever had. I had decided
at about the age of six or seven that I wanted to be an artist.
Specifically, I wanted to be a painter. I begged for an easel,
canvas, paints, and brushes. For Christmas my parents decided
to grant my wish. I got an easel and a paint by number kit. I
guess, since neither of them had never painted, they weren't sure
what to buy and decided that everything would be in the kit and
guidance of some sort would be there also. We did not have art
in the elementary school I attended. I certainly wasn't going
to get any help there. I was so excited. I set my easel up, placed
my canvas on it and began to paint. I think it took me about an
hour to decide that I did not want to paint this picture of a
horse. So I began to paint my own picture with horse colors! I
am a professional artist and I haven't painted by the numbers,
any numbers, since. I will credit the paint by number kit for
at least supplying all I needed to know that I had made the right
decision to spend my life painting. I look back with great fondness.
February 19, 2002
My last Santa Claus present was a paint-by-number kit including
the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. It was sold in the Sears
Roebuck catalogue in 1954. I left a bookmark at the appropriate
page that said simply "Dear Santa" with the number and
description needed for ordering circled.
Why was it my last Santa? Well, I was 13 years old but fortunate
to have a 5-year-old brother, affording me the luxury of going
along with the fantasy a little longer. Imagining myself a student
of the greatest French impressionists, I finished those two art
works, Mother had them framed and hung over the piano in the living
Like Holbein's painting of King Henry VIII, these masterpieces
are now relegated to an upstairs bedroom as a charming reminder
of "kinder, gentler" times. In fact, the house I grew
up in is one big attic for our family's history, just as the Smithsonian
so wonderfully acts as America's attic.
February 27, 2002