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Behind the Scenes: The Fascinating History of Paint by Numbers

Paint by Numbers

What Do We Understand by Paint by Numbers?

Paint by Numbers, also known as Painting by Numbers, is an appealing and engaging way of creating or developing stunning pieces or items of art. It entails painting or coloring a pre-designed picture or image based on a particular number that associates or corresponds with a specific color. The illustrations may be unique works or abstract designs created for the aim and purpose of the activity. Otherwise, the image or picture may include a reproduction of pre-existing and well-known works.

Paint by Numbers usually comes with its unique kit containing all the items and objects required to engage in and complete the artwork. It consists of the design printed on a canvas, with the numbering already printed on it. A variety of themes and options, including large paint by numbers, can be found on specialized websites tailored to your artistic tastes. In addition to that, the kit encompasses brushes and paints, each with labels for ease of understanding and use.

The users need to choose the color that corresponds to a particular number and fill the determined and given area with that specific hue. The process resembles a coloring book for children. However, it gets done on an increased scale, sometimes with the use and application of a canvas. Thus, Paint by Numbers is a stress-free way of developing mesmerizing art pieces.

Paint by Numbers

What Does the History of Paint by Numbers Entail?

The ingenious idea of Paint by Numbers first came from the mind of Dan Robbins. Robbins was a commercial artist who produced and sold his artworks in Detroit. He initiated his career by working in the art department of several car manufacturers. From there, he gained experience with paints and developed his skills in the domain.

The idea and concept of Paint by Numbers came to Robbins when he wished to replicate the unique teaching system initiated by the renowned artist Leonardo da Vinci. It entailed having designated numbering sections and portions on the canvases to enable the apprentices and beginners to complete the artwork and gain knowledge and skills as they finish their assignments.

Leonardo da Vinci used the system to challenge his students to complete creative assignments. The former would provide the latter with numbered patterns suggesting the places specific colors should get filled in. It encompassed even the preliminary background and the underpainting hues. In this manner, da Vinci did not have to give all his focus and attention to the apprentices, allowing them to paint a significant work without any external help. Such an approach appealed to Robbins, allowing him to develop Paint by Numbers.

The commercialization and sale of kits based on the proposal and idea of Paint by Numbers began when Robbins joined hands with Max Klein, the owner of Palmer Show Card Paint Company. The former began working in the latter’s company in 1949. Initially, Robbins secured a job as an illustrator and had to develop children’s books. However, he faced a predicament when Klein tasked him with an urgent and significant mission- to sell and market more paint to the masses. The solution Robbins constructed included devising and promoting a hobby kit comprising the company’s products and numbered designs.

Klein liked the idea proposed by Robbins, leading to the kits’ sale in 1950 after several corrections and improvements. It led to the sale of over 12 million of the supplies, becoming a favorite among a broad range and category of people. To develop each kit, Robbins began by creating and painting original artwork. Then, he placed a clean plastic sheet over the painting and outlined or chartered the shapes to designate each shade and hue. He gave each segment a particular number and associated them with a specific color.

The Paint by Numbers of famous artists, released after the war, appealed to the American people who had considerable free time to perform leisureful activities such as color adhering to a color scheme. It rapidly became an aspect of their daily lives and even a cultural phenomenon.

The idea and product of Paint by Numbers and its kit got sold to numerous people under the guidance and supervision of Palmer Show Card Paint Company. Jacquelyn Schiffman, Max Klein’s daughter, presented his company’s archives and records to the Smithsonian Museum of American History after his passing in 1993. It allowed people across the globe to get to know about the engaging activity and the people who developed it.

Today, Paint by Numbers is a fun activity and game pursued and enjoyed by people of varying age groups. They do so on both an online and an offline mode. Several apps and virtual games offer Paint by Numbers to a broad scope and range of interested people wanting to spend their time doing something worthwhile and meaningful. It proves helpful, especially for children in the development stages who need to work on their cognitive skills.

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