painting by numbers

Learning About the History of Painting by Numbers

Whether you have used paint by number kits, gifted them to others or are just curious about them, here you can learn about their history. Who invented them and why and what makes them so popular today with many different types of people.

Looking at who came up with this idea

An artist named Dan Robbins in the US, was the person to come up with it. He was an artist who saw more success in the 1950s and 1960s. He worked for the Palmer Show Card Paint Company where he was hired to be a children’s book illustrator. He was good at what he did and his boss Klein tasked him to use his innovation, unique style and natural gifts to come up with a way to sell more of the products the company offered.

It was a time after the war when people were exploring their increased freedom in recreation and he had the inspirational idea of making painting more accessible to people by creating paint by numbers kits or hobby kits. He says he was inspired in part by Leonardo da Vinci who is known to have numbered his canvas sections when teaching his art students. He would give them numbered patterns that indicated where they should paint and what colors. So Robbins came up with the kits by first painting original art and next outlining the different hues and colors and then assigning them with numbers and so the kits were born and have been popular for 70 years with some places even offering custom paint by numbers kits you can order.

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How did the world of art respond to the Painting by Number Kits?

While the public loved them and still does, the art world’s response to paint by number kits was less enthusiastic in general. Artists and other key members were critical of its oversimplification and of undermining the work of real artists. Robbin’s response was that he never claimed that these kits were art or meant to replace work from real artists but rather a great way to get beginners to experience the process of creation and end up with a result they are satisfied with.

What makes custom paint by numbers and regular kits so popular?

Essentially the paint by numbers idea is the painting version of a coloring book. You use the numbers to guide you where to paint with what colors. If you want to use it as an opportunity to learn things like brush strokes and more then you can. Or you can just enjoy the process of painting the picture and seeing it come to life. A lot of people who are not artistic but want to enjoy a painting hobby can do so because of painting by numbers. It is also a great hobby that anyone can enjoy from the young to the more senior of us. Add to that you can now get personalized or customized kits created for you so you can paint your child, your dog, a scene that is special to you from a holiday and so on! It means the masses have an opportunity to create something they can be proud of.

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