Paint by Numbers- How in the World Do You Find Them? I Share My Secrets...

About 7 years ago my mother called with another prediction about the next up and coming hot collectible trend that I better take note of for my online shop- paint by number paintings. She is always right and hasn't missed spotting a trend yet! So on my shopping excursions I started picking them up as I found them. Well. They sold. And sold. Now a good portion of my sales are... you guessed it. Paint by number paintings! But how in the world do you find them? Read on...

Interestingly enough "paint by number" is the most "searched term" leading seekers of this lost art from childhood to my shop- Atomic Putz. Right beneath that for second most searched term is "paint by numbers". So I thought I would give a little insider help to those seeking these gems of Americana Kitsch art and tell you how I have found mine.  

  • Thrift Stores- (I love searching through these- don't you?) While it might seem like the logical place to start looking in these shops would be the picture section, you will probably find very few of them there. My advice... Look Up!!! I have found most of my PBNs displayed above the shelves as shop decor. In every area of the store. 
  •  eBay- Another go to source you can shop from the comfort of your home. The only problem? Most of what you want is up for auction so your chances of actually buying that item decrease exponentially. Most of the Buy It Now paintings are over priced, BUT you can find some awesome deals and it never hurts to throw out an offer. AND once in awhile you can find a great deal on a "Lot"- Voila! Instant collection! Another helpful thing to do is to save your searches and have the results emailed to you. Mine are waiting for me in my email in the morning and I shop before I even get out of bed. Some of my best purchases have come from those emails. And, it is true, the early bird gets the worm!
  • Etsy- Lots of great deals there. (Stop by my Paint by Number section and have a look around while you're there!) Prices vary, but most are reasonably priced and, again, feel free to throw out an offer if you see something you like. You just never know!
  •  Antique Shops- While I have found very few paint by numbers paintings in antique stores, it is worth a shot. Leave no stone unturned! What I have found in these shops was surprisingly reasonably priced. Plus it's always fun to look- you never know what else you'll find!
 On a side note- you can find a gallery of paint by number paintings, stories and interesting facts at the Paint by Number Museum online. This little website is chock full of helpful information for everyone from the serious collector to the casual observer. And, it's a lovely place to spend some time if you are a fan!
Interesting FUN facts to ponder: 
  • Michelangelo (or Leonardo da Vinci- whichever version of the story you prefer!) is credited as the creator of the PBN when he started numbering sections of his ceilings for his students to paint accurately.
  • Dan Robbins, creator of the PBN, is the artist with the largest amount of displayed work that he didn't actually paint himself.

Hopefully this article will jump start your own collection! The key is to just get out there and search! Even if you don't have any luck right away- in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson- "Life is a journey, not a destination."

Happy Hunting!