Saturday, June 11, 2005


Mona Lisa's Smile (Color #8)

The 50s fad of Paint By Numbers is now featured in "Canada's first paint by numbers exhibition" at a gallery in Toronto, according to an article in today's Globe and Mail:

The idea that someone might one day put paint-by-numbers paintings in a gallery or teach a course on the subject never occurred to the inventor of paint-by-numbers, Dan Robbins.

"What they have done in Canada is [they have] taken the lead in this particular genre, using paint-by-number sets as a learning tool," Robbins, 80, said. "They are encouraging people to use their own creativity to make them as individual as they can, and not another 'me-too.' "

Robbins, who was a young commercial artist in Detroit in 1950, came up with the idea of paint-by-numbers after he remembered that Leonardo da Vinci's students prepared backgrounds from the master's numbered sketches. Each number indicated a different colour.

Robbins' idea was also the subject of an utterly engrossing interview with Smithsonian curator William Bird in Cabinet last fall; Bird authored the 2001 history Paint By Number: The How-To Craze That Swept The Nation.

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