Paint by Numbers Home

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 memories.

Jeri Walker
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.

Rosario Dorbecker
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.

H. McComas
Arlington, Va.
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 collie!


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.

Betty Towns
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
Denver, Co.
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 grandparents' livingroom.

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.

Thank you

Polly Schatz
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 years.

Good luck. Thanks for the memories.

Claudia Bismark
Baltimore, MD
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.

Phil Holley
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, there's #22!"

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.

Albuquerque, NM
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.

Aimee Cecil
Louisville, KY
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,

Robert Keefer
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.

Angela Channer
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.

Martha Gerity
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

Vinnie C.
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.

Reatha Wilkins
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 room.

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.

Susan Allen
February 27, 2002



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