There is an interest in collecting vintage paint by number (PBN) paintings and kits are still available and popular today.In 2001-2002, The Smithsonian American History Museum had an exhibit highlighting the paint-by-number fad in America beginning in the early 1950’s by engineer and owner of the Palmer Paint Co., Max S. Klein and designer, Dan Robbins. Though art critics denounced this craze, millions of people as well as celebrities were fond of these kits. The Eisenhower Presidential Library included pieces completed by Nelson Rockefeller and J. Edgar Hoover.
Following the death of Max Klein in 1993, his daughter, Jacquelyn Schiffman, donated the Palmer Paint Co. archives to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. The archival materials have been placed in the museum’s Archives Center where they have been designated collection #544, the Paint by Number Collection, and are available to both the public and museum staff for research and exhibition purposes.(source)
I gathered the photos for the collage above from the internet because they are paintings I remember both my mom and aunt completing and displaying in their homes.
This grainy photo of my sister and I posing for her prom shows PBN paintings in the background
Thinking it might be fun to paint one myself, I bought a kit. And fun it was! Not much artistic or creative ability needed but I found it a very relaxing and enjoyable activity. Like coloring or doing a jigsaw puzzle. (Kits available today use acrylic rather than oil paint)
I looked forward to moments I was able to sit at the table and allow the thoughts and concerns of the day to disappear as I applied color and watched as the scene slowly came alive. Sometimes I would choose a different color or blend two colors together using the lines and directions as just a guide.