Paint-by-Numbers – The Next One!

Well, I did it again. After AGES and now that we’re in the new place and my office is set up, I figured I’d take on wrapping up the paint-by-numbers that I had started before we moved. I’d only gotten two colors into it, so it was no big deal.

I decided to do the sister painting of the original I had done. I liked the style and vibe and it was kind of neat to have them as a set.

No great reason WHY I decided to paint the same picture but slightly different other than, like I said, I liked the art style. Very modern. Colorful. Vibrant. And reminds me of Europe. Or a Simon and Garfunkel song.

Some tips I’ve learned:

  • I’m left-handed, so painting right to left is much easier and keeps me from dragging my hand through paint
  • Painting in spurts in various sections (like bottom or top) to let the paint dry
  • I know they say paint the large sections first, but I simply HAVE to start at the highest color number (like 21 or 24) and paint my way down – I mean, I MUST do it this way. It is known.
  • I let the paint sit for a good year before reopening it up and the acrylic got pretty clumpy and dry so adding a bit of water and swooshing a bit helped loosen it up again
  • The brushes they give you are meh. I bought a nice selection of varying sizes (for large swaths of color vs. small meticulous work) and the ones I have purchased have ridges, so they’re actually easier to hold in my hand
  • Even after I got my eye surgery and no longer need to wear trifocals, I STILL wear the glasses with the light AND with the magnification lenses, it makes those teeny tiny numbers pop, especially if you can’t decide if it’s a 5 or a 6
  • Paint seems to apply to canvas left to right better than it does up and down or diagonally
  • For really teensy spots, I dab-dab-dab rather than try dragging the brush — I have much more control that way
  • Buy an easel! I had bought one and it was simply too small for the 16 x 20 canvases I was purchasing so I got an extra wide easel and now my framed canvases don’t hang over or I don’t see weird edges where the canvas ran out of wood
  • If you have one, painting on a raising/lowering desk is a DREAM. This one is new since I didn’t have a desk like this before, but I found a) it’s nice if you don’t feel like sitting anymore and b) it’s nice if you don’t feel like standing anymore and c) it’s nice if you need to scooch down to the bottom of the painting or tippy toe up to the top – it just makes accessing everything easier
  • Don’t get sloppy towards the end — I get it it’s nearly done, but that’s not the time to start going over lines or NOT going over lines (so they don’t show)
  • You may need to do a few coats to make sure the numbers don’t show – especially on those lighter colors
  • Sign your work! I get it, we’re just acrylic colorists, not actual painters, but it’s kind of a big deal and these things can take a good week or two to complete so it’s worth noting your hard effort with your name and the year!


The basics. I always start with black first, then the second color.
Some blue. Woo.
Green! Impossible to tell what it is right now though.
Adding yellow but it doesn’t help much.
Adding baby poo yellow or pea green, I don’t know
Nice shadow, Mel. Still just looks like nothing
Rorschach. But shapes are forming.
More vibrant yellow
Oooo and super cool blue
Ok well you surely can’t miss the red!
And now some big orange
And hues of orange or maybe yellow
S’more blues
Starting to see that bench now and a smidge of the couple
Well those browns added some depth!
More shades of yellow
I don’t even know at this point, but nearly done!
And we’re done!

Paint By Numbers – Oil on Canvas: Newb Alert

I guess a pandemic is a great time to try something new. Several years ago, I took a watercolor painting class with a friend of mine from work. I had a great time. We learned stuff. It was social.

I sucked, but I didn’t care.

So I decided to try some paint-by-numbers with acrylics. I found a bunch on Amazon, picked a painting I liked, and ordered it. For fun, I decided to take a picture every step of the way because, frankly, in the beginning everything just looks like spaghetti.

So here’s the progression. Enjoy! 19 different colors of paint on a 16×20 canvas.

By the way, the painting I chose has special significance, which I’ll explain at the bottom.

Two colors – barely could see the promise
Ooooo green. I get trees are in here
Loved the vibrant blues
Some deeper blues – starting to come together (ish)
More blues – ok now I”m getting fatigued on blue
How much more blue can there possibly be? Tough because the lightest blue required several coats
Oh thank goodness, something new. Ooo…like brick!
WOW that’s some orange – I’m beginning to get excited
Ok this is feeling like a painting now
Carpal tunnel, but more shades of brown/orange
Suddenly the painting has depth. Holy smokes, when did that happen?
Now we’re moving into the yellows
Feeling like an almost artist
What is that, lime green? Whatever works.
Now the pale grays and touch-ups. And all the numbers I missed along the way.
Finished!! I love it!!!

Finished product. Mostly. I have a few items I want to go back and darken up (if you really look closely you can see the numbers if the color is particularly light.

Significance of this painting explained: The setting reminds me of Amsterdam and that is where my husband and I traveled to for our honeymoon over 20 years ago. So since Valentines Day is coming up, I thought I would surprise him. The couple in the center just reminded me of us. And the colors were just so darn vibrant.

All told, the entire process took about a week. A few hours in the evening and a few hours on the weekends.

Since our cat passed away a few weeks ago, this was a surprisingly effective way at distracting me from the sorrow (while I focused on painting within the lines) and also is a great way to reduce stress from work, life, COVID, what-have-you. Also, since I walked away from social media, this felt like a great use of my time and energy and – at the end of it – I didn’t feel like I’d just wasted hours surfing. I had a painting to hang up!

I wish I could paint like this naturally, but I can’t. As a “check-box-er”, I like to do step-by-step / bite-sized projects, which is also why I like making bath products. Simple and can be done in an afternoon. Admittedly, this was much more involved, but it was time-consuming, not complicated. (And it came framed, which was nice.)

The kit comes with practically everything you need, but…..

I picked up lighted magnifying glasses (after I found the magnifying light was too cumbersome), a desktop easel, some paint brushes (in case I hated the ones the kit came with), and an artist brush basin so I could rinse my brushes between colors.