History of Paint By Numbers: What You Need to Know

Paint by numbers is a popular artistic activity that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for years. It allows individuals to create beautiful works of art without any prior painting experience. Given how long it's been around, people seldom think about it's origins. This is why we've put together a brief discussion on this fun activity. If this is something that you're interested in learning more about,  read on as we explore the history of paint by numbers, how it came to be, and its impact on the art world.

Origins of Paint by Numbers

Paint by numbers was first introduced in the 1950s by Max S. Klein, an American businessman. Klein was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's technique of using numbered patterns on canvas to teach his apprentices how to paint. Klein's idea was to create a system that would allow anyone to create a work of art without any prior training or skill.

Klein's company, Palmer Paint Company, began selling paint by numbers kits under the name "Craft Master" in 1951. The first kit was a landscape painting of the Matterhorn, which sold for $2.50. The kit included a canvas with a numbered pattern, a set of oil paints, and a brush. The success of this first kit led to the creation of many others, including portraits, still lifes, and even religious scenes.

The Popularity of Paint by Numbers

The popularity of paint by numbers grew rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s. The kits were sold in department stores, hobby shops, and even drugstores. They were marketed as a way for anyone to become an artist and create a beautiful work of art. People of all ages, from children to adults, were drawn to the simplicity and accessibility of paint by numbers.

The kits were also popular because they provided a sense of accomplishment and relaxation. Completing a paint by numbers kit allowed individuals to create something beautiful and tangible, which was especially appealing in a time when many people were focused on mass production and consumerism.

Impact on the Art World

While some art critics dismissed paint by numbers as a simplistic and amateur form of art, others saw its potential. Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, were particularly interested in the mass-produced nature of paint by numbers. They saw it as a reflection of the consumer culture of the time and used it as inspiration for their work.

Paint by numbers also had an impact on the democratization of art. By making art accessible to anyone, regardless of their skill or background, it challenged the elitism of the art world. It allowed people to engage with art in a new way and to develop a deeper appreciation for the creative process.

The Legacy of Paint by Numbers

Although the popularity of paint by numbers declined in the 1970s, it has experienced a resurgence in recent years. Modern paint by numbers kits are available in a variety of designs and styles, and they are often marketed as a way to relieve stress and promote mindfulness.

Paint by numbers has also inspired new forms of art, such as digital paint by numbers and 3D paint by numbers. These new forms of paint by numbers allow individuals to create works of art using technology and to explore new ways of expressing themselves creatively.


As you can see, paint by numbers has a rich history that spans several decades. It has played a significant role in the democratization of art and has inspired countless individuals to explore their creative side. While it may have been dismissed by some as a simplistic form of art, its impact on the art world cannot be denied. Today, paint by numbers continues to be a beloved pastime and a way for people to connect with their artistic side.

Crafty by Numbers offers premium, high-quality paint-by-number painting kits that enable you to create original art pieces without prior experience. Enjoy and unwind as you color by numbers. Buy now!

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