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Paint by Number – How Do You Relax?

Aleksander Fedyanin, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m not sure why I started thinking about this, but my mother loved paint by number kits. This one pictured is on stretched canvas, but the kits my mother had were more basic and printed on some type of board.

Mom did several of these paint by number paintings. The two I remember most were imitations of The Blue Boy and Pinkie, original paintings by Thomas Gainsborough and Thomas Lawrence. Of course they were far from looking like the originals, but the likeness discernible.

I remember attempting a couple of these paintings, but they never brought me much pleasure. The comparison today might be those adult coloring books which are supposed to be relaxing and calming. They do not have that effect on me.

As a child I was never satisfied with coloring books as they were. I always outlined the images and lines that indicated folds of fabrics with a dark color. Then the image would be colored very lightly. It was not at all unusual for me to add ponytails to girls or add extra elements to the scene. If there were horses, I might add a feeding trough or a bucket of water.

My mom never knitted or crocheted or did other crafts. It was these paintings or a small jigsaw puzzle that she was chose. Her main way to relax was to read. She always had a paperback book in her hands. Zane Grey or Grace Livingston Hill were two of her favorite authors. One who wrote classic westerns and the other Christian novels abut strong women. I also remember one of her favorite books was The Silver Chalice a novel about the artist chosen to cast the cup of Christ.

Reading was the way her family relaxed. From the stories I heard, evenings were spent with everyone together in the living room, curled up in a chair by the fireplace reading a book. I enjoy reading, but not to the extent my mother did. It was her ultimate relaxation and escape.

I was surprised there was still such an interest in paint by number. There is a website that specializes in more detailed paint by numbers kits. I was surprised at the level of detail and the variations of color. A far cry from the simple paintings my mother enjoyed. You can see some of their most popular kits here – they will even turn your own photo into a paint by number. Lovely idea if it is in your price range!

I think I will stick to sketching and making jewelry.