Painting by numbers vs. Realistic painting

academy realistisch malen 01 - Painting by numbers vs. Realistic painting

A trend that thrills young and old alike.

Painting by numbers is widespread and very popular. The trend comes from America and was invented by the Palmer’s Paint Company. Originally, this technique was created for children, who “just” had to paint in each shape in which the picture was divided, marked with a number corresponding to a particular color. A Painting by Numbers kit will include a brush, acrylic paints or oil paints, a printed outline of the picture and a detailed manual. You´ll find the same numbers of the picture on the pots of paint. In these sets, there is also a control sheet that can be used to check if you have painted correctly.

This trend became popular even among artists.  In the 1960s Andy Warhol made five Do It Yourself painting based on the popular paint-by-number kits.

Advantages of the painting-by-numbers method for children

What exactly does this method? Is it good for children? The advantages are that children…

  • are encouraged to start painting by following the guidelines given by the numbers on the picture and the pots of paint
  • only have to associate the right color to each number and then color accurately
  • can paint the picture quickly and thus they experience painting success faster

Advantages of realistic painting

What are the disadvantages of the painting by numbers method, and which are the advantages of realistic painting?

  • children can develop their craftsmanship and artistic skills much more than when they just have to concentrate on painting within the borders.
  • when drawing they learn how to deal with proportions, light, and shadow in order to create a realistic representation of the subject.
  • they learn to look, understand and recognize forms and colors.
  • they learn to name the colors and mix them.
  • through this intensive learning and development, both their ability to concentrate and their endurance as well as their self-esteem increase enormously, and that is very important for their academic and later professional career.

The painting-by-numbers method is an introduction to painting. However, this method has its limits as regards the independent craftsmanship and artistic abilities and skills of drawing and painting. It limits the artistic development to the accurate coloring of the individual numbered areas.

The “normal” painting requires and improves your own artistic abilities and skills much more than the painting-by-numbers method!


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