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Vintage Paint By Number

When I was younger, one of the notable art projects was paint-by-number.  They were small, kept me busy all morning or afternoon, and never turned out quite like the photo.  Nonetheless, it was so much fun to do.  I think the paintbrush was always a little more giant than it needed to be, which I will blame for my result not looking like the box.  I was one of those kids who expected my results to resemble an example.  That little fact would take years to unwind ... 😉

One of the things I get most excited about when thrifting is locating vintage paint by number pieces. Clearly, they didn't have the same issue with the brush I did as a child. I love finding them to resell as they are trendy.  The paint by number art dates back to the 1950s when an employee was tasked with finding a way to sell more paint.  The concept was easy, divide a piece of artwork by color as a black and white sketch, number the colors to be used, and then package the paints needed to be identified by their numbers. Honestly, I think this is a clever use of paint, and I hope I earned him a high five and a raise. Dan Robbins was that employee, and his employer was the Palmer Show Paint Card Company.  Robbins created a buzz, and the craze for paint-by-number painting began.  I love to think that the ones I am finding and buying now date all the way back to the 1950s and were hopefully painted as a craft to relax and pass the time.  

This summer, I stayed in two homes with beautiful paint-by-number art on their walls capturing my attention.  We have a second living space in the den that needs an overhaul, and the idea of collecting and adding these idyllic paintings to the wall has won my favor. I have tossed around the idea of collecting boating scenes, fox hunting scenes, and even horse portraits.  I found two that I adored that were of swans, so maybe that is the direction I will take.  Honestly, I am not sure, but I can tell you they will most definitely be hanging on the wall. I just love them. 

These works of art are easily identified if you study them up close. From far away they may look to be just a fabulous painting but up close you will be able to see the brush strokes in shapes and notice they were painted from a numbered canvas. When we went to Highlands, North Carolina in July I noticed two beautiful pieces on the wall in the kitchen. The next morning I mentioned them to our host who commented she did not know what they were but on inspection, it is hard to miss.  Once you see one up close you can identify them at first glance. After our discussion that morning we both noticed them all over the house.  It was such a stunning collection and the beginning of my thought for our basement living space. 

If you are not an avid estate sale shopper like me you can find a variety of them on various resale sites. I would suggest checking out Everything But The House, Chairish, Etsy, eBay, and more.  I search for "vintage paint by number" and have had a lot of success finding an array of options.  Make sure you are purchasing a completed piece of art and not a kit, I almost bought a kit and would have been very upset when it arrived. 

Stay tuned ... I see this happening in my life in late fall, early winter!

Happy Friday!

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