If you were a crafty kid, your parents might have gotten you a paint by numbers kit for your birthday or Christmas.
It was big fun, and you wound up with a picture your mom would mount in a dime store frame and hang in the living room to show off to friends and family.
It seems that most things run in cycles, and just as retro, Mid Century Modern furniture is experiencing a rebirth, so is the paint by numbers craze. Except, this isn’t the tacky, ho-hum landscapes you may remember from your youthful foray into art.
Today’s paint by numbers kits are printed on canvas, which can be attached to stretcher bars and framed. They are also available in a huge variety of images – from traditional to abstract and everything in between. Whatever your taste or decorating style, there are loads of painting kits you’d be proud to hang in your home.
Originally, the paint used in paint by number kits was oil, and therefore took a long time to dry, was messy and smelly. Today, most kits use acrylics paints, although there are some oil paint kits available.
Tips And Ideas For Using Paint By Number Kits
First off, have FUN with this new hobby! It isn’t rocket science, and if you make a mistake or two, who’s going to notice!
If you think you have an interest in learning how to paint, this is an easy and inexpensive way to test the waters. You’re not investing in a bunch of tubes of paint and canvases, nor are you buying brushes you’re not sure are correct for your purposes.
You get to play around with a bit of paint, learn how to control it and practice the best way to handle the brushes. If you fall in love, then you can take the next step and purchase a student set of supplies. If you’re not so taken with this new pastime, you’re only out a little time and money.
Decide if you want to work from light to dark or vice versa. This is a good exercise in learning about color, composition and the way colors affect each other.
Do all the areas of one color at a time. This method ensures you don’t need to keep cleaning your brush for color changes, and you’ll use less paint.
After choosing a color, begin by painting the largest areas and work towards the smallest spots of that color. This makes it less likely that you’ll run short of the color before you’ve completed all the areas marked for that hue.
Work your way from the top left to the bottom right as you paint. This minimizes the risk of accidental smearing.
Make sure you have plenty of light. You may also want to have a magnifying glass around if your future masterpiece has small, intricate details.
Paint can take 10 to 15 minutes to dry, so don’t think of this as a speed test. Also, always close the lid of your paint when you’re finished, so the remaining paint stays moist and usable.
Be generous with your paint application, but don’t make it gloppy. You can always go over an area a second time, if the paint is too thin. You will find that some paints are more translucent than others. You may need to re-coat some colors, perhaps even more than once to hide the number on the canvas. Just wait until the layer dries before adding another.
Dip your brush neatly into the paint, but don’t dip the brush so deeply that it extends over the ferrule. You paint with the bristles, not the metal. It makes it harder to clean completely and it wastes the paint.
Make sure you clean the brush thoroughly with warm water and soap, if necessary. Your paints have been pre-mixed and using a dirty brush can affect your paint’s vibrancy.
If you have areas that are too small for your smallest brush tip, a toothpick may be just the tool you need for those tiny details.
If your kit comes with canvas cloth that’s not mounted on stretcher bars, it may have creases. You can iron the back of the canvas to remove the creases. Moisten a pressing cloth and use medium heat to steam away the folds or wrinkles.
When the painting is complete, mount your piece on stretcher bars with a staple gun. By pulling the canvas taut as you attach it to the framework, you’ll give the painting a professional, stretched appearance and remove any traces of creases or folds.
A final note about trying out a paint by number kit. Take your time and enjoy yourself. It’s relaxing, whether you’re doing it solo or painting as a group activity with friends. It fills a little space in our soul that desires a creative outlet, and it can help you develop a new skill. Who knows – may you’ve got the ability to take this painting thing to the next level?