In 1950, Max S. Klein, owner of the Palmer Paint Company, and Dan Robbins, commercial artist, invented paint-by-number kits to ensure that everyone could create a beautiful painting.
Little did they know, fine artists of the century would also enjoy coloring within segmented light gray lines.
Andy Warhol based his 1962 series of five Do It Yourself paintings on landscape and still-life motifs found in the popular paint-by-number kits.
Warhol’s Do It Yourself paintings prompted his further exploration of democratized art which could seemingly be made by anyone.
Warhol’s contemporary, British artist Damien Hirst, created a physical paint-by-number kit as a work of art in its own right.
Hirst’s 2001 artwork, entitled Painting by Numbers I, hung on gallery walls complete with canvas, 90 paintbrushes, and 90 specialty mixed paints.
Today, contemporary artists like Trey Speegle, Martin Mull, and Jenn Jarnot create bodies of artwork incorporating the visible paint-by-number technique.
Featured in this past year’s Pulse New York Art Fair, Trey Speegle toys with various ways of transforming the paint-by-number style into new and abstract forms.
Inspired to make some art? Create your own paint by number painting and share it with The Bare Square on Facebook!
- Ava Cotlowitz