DIY Paint By Numbers Projects

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Among the many things from my childhood that I will inevitably someday foist upon my children (a list that currently includes cassette and video tapes, a Ramones t-shirt, Choose Your Own Adventure books, Polaroid cameras, and Sesame Street) is paint-by-numbers art, which help make anyone feel like an artist. While it seems like a bit of a cheat, paint-by-numbers kits are under rated: it’s a project that’s arty, easy (i.e. can be done while drinking) and can be upcycled into one of many neat crafts. It’s worth pointing out here that there’s nothing wrong with simply completing a PBN kit and hanging it on your wall, because that is actually kitschy radness that can work really well (see above). Those of you who are feelin’ crafty and kitschy, come right this way:

Song Lyric Wall Art: A great example of re-purposing PBN art, the song lyric project involves getting a PBN kit, completing it, then using vinyl letters to spell out a favorite lyric or quote directly on the painting. Now, personally, I like the way this looks with just the vinyl lettering on an art background, however you also have the option of then painting over the whole thing with acrylic paint and (very) carefully peeling off the vinyl letters so the painting underneath is displayed through the text. Either way, the result is charming.

Guest Book: If you’ve got a paint-by-number on canvas, consider punching some holes in the side, adding some paper and a clasp to create a quick notebook.

Wrapping Paper: If you’re aces at paint-by-number, immortalize your efforts by color-copying each picture and printing it onto paper to use as unique wrapping paper.

Furniture and Walls: Most paint-by-numbers instructions can be painted on a piece of furniture or a wall by projecting the details of the kit onto the wall or piece of furniture. Trace your guide onto the wall (or table) with a pencil. From there, it’s a bit of a painstaking process of giving each color a number, and matching each number to a paint chip then buying the right shade paint and filling it all in. Pretty time intensive to cover an entire wall, so maybe it’s best to try this out with an end table first.

Cover Up: If you’ve already got a paint-by-numbers art work but it’s not quite doing it for you, consider giving it a cover up by painting over it with a different color palette or technique to update it. Just don’t forget to spray some sealer on it once you’ve finished.


Images courtesy,,, and

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Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

A freelance writer, blogger and poet based in San Francisco, Amber has written for PC World, InfoWorld, and the 16th & Mission Review. She has performed at City Hall, Litquake, the Brainwash, 16th & Mission, BlueSix, and SFSU among other places. Amber is also consummate fan of swearing, organizational freak, yoga practitioner, music geek, caffeine addict, and tattoo enthusiast who enjoys platform shoes, making out, thumb wrestling and fighting the good fight. She owns a bicycle named Gretel, a motor scooter named Elroy and a cat named Simon. She can be found in various virtual locations all over your interwebs.

1 Comment

  1. jill
    July 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm