A brief history of painting by numbers

Painting by numbers is not only a great artistic method of expressing yourself but also a way to connect with old practices and their history. The history of painting by numbers goes all the way back to Leonardo Da Vinci, in the Renaissance era. It follows along with the painting trends until now. So, let’s find out some interesting facts about it that will certainly want to make you start a painting right away!

Leonardo’s influence

history of painting by numbers

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Every great artist has to start from somewhere. That is something that the genius artist Leonardo Da Vinci knew well. The origins of painting by numbers go back to him. He used to let some of his students or apprentices finish some artworks themselves. He would hand out numbered patterns indicating where certain colors should be used in specific projects or some lesser works that did not require his immediate attention and the students would have to paint them over. Of course, Leonardo didn’t make his own painting by numbers kits out of this, but the idea was there and it was useful. 

Dan Robbins and the creation of a worldwide trend

history of painting by numbers

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The real person behind the painting by numbers success though was a commercial artist named Dan Robbins. He was hired at first by the Palmer Show Card Paint Company, as an illustrator for children’s books. Soon after, his boss challenged him to find a way for the company to sell more paint. And this is how painting by numbers started its journey into the artistic world. When the Palmer Company started selling those kits, the tagline that would accompany them was “Every man a Rembrandt”. Sounds like a killer marketing campaign right?

The secret to painting by numbers success

history of painting by numbers

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The big secret that helped painting by numbers grow so much was the timing at which it was released. After the end of World War II, there was a lot more free time for people to pursue leisure activities. Even people who would not normally try their artistic skills would want to give it a go. After all, even Dan Robbins himself used to say that he never claimed that painting by number is art on its own. It is the experience of art, and it brings that experience to the individual who would normally not pick up a brush, not dip it in paint. Apparently, this experience was crucial for the history of painting by numbers. The production for PBN kits grew so much, the original Palmer Company had to close because they couldn’t keep up with the demand for them.

The history of painting by numbers is important because it shows all the steps that made a popular form of art accessible to the masses. You do not need to be an artist to try it, nor spend a small fortune on art supplies. You can do it from the comfort of your own home and in the end, you will be proud of your creations. And that is all you may need.

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