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January 12, 2018

I’m an Artist… by Number

Paint By Numbers - Brindley Studio Blog | Brindley Faile


Facebook ads have drastically increased in the past year and my will to resist them has decreased. While perusing my newsfeed of friend's recent travel pics and political memes I paused my scrolling to watch a timelapse video of someone painting a gorgeous Paris scene. As I watched them do all one color on the canvas before moving to the next I realized it was paint-by-numbers! I consider myself creative but output of that creativity is poorly represented in my artistic feats. Stick figures with hair are considered masterpieces by my skillset. However, my office actually features 2 canvases I painted myself at wine & paint nights (shout out to Abbi & Elijah of Paintbug in Asheville) that I feel are decent, so I know I can at least follow instructions and stay close within the lines. I gave in to the click bait and followed the link to the website to pick out which paint by number canvas I wanted to tackle. My plans were to paint it over the weekend with a nice glass of wine and have it adorned on my office wall by Monday to offer white lies of "yes I painted that" to my coworkers and omitting the " numbers" part. This my friends, was an ambitious dream.

Paint by numbers fox from Max Novelty I picked this 16x20" fox thinking it would go nicely with my outdoorsy themed office and I liked the woodsy colors. Some of the other options you can choose from are very bright and neon and I thought that might look out of place in my current office decor.


If you’ve been allured by the timelapse ads yourself or are thinking of gifting it to a friend for Christmas let me share my experience before you pull the trigger. First of all, I ordered mine from Max Novelty for $19, because that's just who the ad was from when I saw it, but there are several online shops selling paint by number kits. When I mentioned I had ordered one at my weekly Wine Wednesdays my friend Mackenzie picked herself up one from Amazon. Naively she bet her roommate $100 she'd finish it by January. We were rather confident in our ability to paint by numbers, after all it's what kids do in their elementary classes right?

Shipping took about 4 weeks I believe. I had almost forgotten I ordered it. When it arrived, it was wrapped in cardstock paper and had the canvas tightly rolled as well as 24 mini paint pots and 5 brushes of varying sizes.


CON. The brushes are crap. Not that I expected luxury level brushes but I had to duct tape the one I used most about 1/3 of the way through my painting and snip some hairs that began to stray from the pack. Also, you can really only use the tiniest brush. The shapes or "numbers" you have to fill in are incredibly small (see image above) and all of the other brushes were too wide to fit in the small curves and delicate shapes of my soon(LONG)-to-be fox painting.

CON. It takes many hours to paint. Days really. My plans for a relaxing weekend quickly changed when I realized how time consuming this project would be. I estimate it takes about 5-6 hours just to fill in a 5x5" square of canvas. While that seems absurd, the irregular shapes, looking for correct numbers and rinsing your brush and changing colors all add in to that time. I bought this canvas in SEPTEMBER people. I did not finish it until December. Now, I wasn't working on it every evening, probably just a few days a month but that’s because...

CON. You will not find painting to be relaxing. I certainly poured some glasses of wine but half the time I was so focused on painting I forgot to drink them. If I just painted for an hour it would look like I barely did anything. My back and neck become sore after an hour and I usually put in 3-4 hour long sessions just trying to get to the finish line.

CON. The canvas is not a regular frame size. Though the site claimed it was 16x20, the full canvas was actually 18x22 and there are no standard (cheap TJ MAXX) frames that size. Unless I cut the white part off I would have to order a custom frame which would cost more than the $19 I spent. There is an option to include a frame with your purchase but I l went for the cheapest option.

PRO. Easy to travel with. I rolled my canvas up and took it with me to a conference one weekend and my parents house for Thanksgiving another weekend.

PRO. Numbers and lines do not show through. Once finished, there were only a few spots were you could see hints of numbers and lines and from any slight distance you couldn’t tell at all.

PRO. The final product looks intentional. My concern when I first got the canvas is that you would be able to tell it was just comprised of individual shapes and my coworkers would be able to oust me as a fake artist. I loved the way my fox came out and the multitude of colors add to the effect. The final product looks like a deliberate painting style.

PRO. You can add your signature to look more legit. I mean you DID paint it right? I placed my initials in the lower right corner over the Chinese symbols.

PRO. You end up with a large hand-painted masterpiece. Once I hung my painting in my office I became really proud. I wasn't lying if I said I painted it and it looked great with my decor.


I think I would, but not for a while. As much as I loved the final product, you have to have a certain level of commitment to being anti social to get it done. I am not exaggerating the hours it takes to do. If I was sick, this would be the perfect project to pass the time. I'd also consider using an easel or something at a slant next time so I don't have to bend over a table and strain my neck for long periods of time. I could see myself decorating a whole wall in paint by number accomplishments some day. I think this would make a great gift to someone who is a homebody, and likes art but does not consider themselves an artist. I don't recommend for kids under 12 or anyone with a lack of patience or attention span. When/if I select another, I'll let y'all know.

If you've decided to try your hand at paint by numbers let me know which one you plan to tackle in the comments! I'd love to see your final product.
Cheers, Brindley



  1. Linda says:

    It does take time! I just finished my first one that I received as a gift last Christmas. It took me two weeks and it’s pretty much all I did. After reading your post, I’m going to sign mine!
    Honestly, I love the final product. I just ordered another (Van Gogh). This time I’m making it into a hanging lamp!

  2. Noreen says:

    Get the kits that are on art board.Cheap poster frames from Walmart will,with a little pressure,fit.Paint by number co.kits can be ordered on stretch wood frames.

  3. Jessica says:

    I ordered 4 kits on April 1 and another on April 6th that’s 2 months they have my money but have not shipped my kits! Terrible customer service!

  4. Therese Nelms says:

    I’m looking for that painted by numbers that are already mounted onto the frame does your company have this thank you in advance
    T Nelms

  5. Yvonne Egitto says:

    Max Novelty is a scam. Take your money and don’t send anything. Then do not respond to e mail.

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