At Canvas by Numbers, we invite our customers to share their experience with paint by numbers, as the benefits it offers as a therapeutic activity and a tool to disconnect from daily problems and routines, in addition to being fun, are well known. However, the different perspectives that people have on its practice, depending on their motivation or life stage, interest us greatly. We want to firsthand knowledge of that particular interaction with the paintings they choose to paint.
José María has shared a unique experience with us, and we want to share it on this blog:
Creativity while painting by numbers?
Painting by numbers: a canvas with the outline of an image (a copy of an original) that delineates the areas to color marked by numbers (each number corresponds to a pre-defined color matching that of the original) and numbered paint pots to match the original result.
With this explanation, it may seem contradictory to include the concepts of "painting by numbers" and "creativity" in the same sentence. Or maybe it's not so contradictory after all?
Creativity is the gift that generates a unique, novel, personal idea, and when painting by numbers, we limit ourselves to copying without the need for prior painting knowledge and without waiting for the "muses" to bestow tons of inspiration upon us. Just like when assembling furniture that arrives unassembled at home, which at most expresses our manual skills but never our own creativity. Because that's precisely what paint by numbers is: canvas, colors, brushes, instructions, and an image of how the finished painting should look.
However, my experience is very different, which is why I believe that painting by numbers and creativity go hand in hand more than it seems. In my case, the answer to the question "Creativity while painting by numbers?" is a resounding yes.
I love DIY, assembling and disassembling things. The example of the furniture was not chosen at random. I am organized, disciplined, and can follow instructions to the letter.
The problem is that, being very skilled in that area, I lack the darned spark of creativity, I lack the necessary imagination for it. I am unable to design a piece of furniture, to give it a color I haven't seen before in a magazine, or to mix various handle models in the same piece. I can't see "the possibilities" as those who have been blessed with that gift and are friends of inspiration say.
So why is painting by numbers different from assembling furniture following a script? Why do I allow myself to talk about creativity in this case?
Very simple. Every time the brush guided by my hand overflows by millimeters the marked line, every time that same brush, instead of drawing the exact angle of the figure, does it more open or more closed, or when one of the colors does not match 100% with the original, each of these small details that differ from "how it should be" make the work "mine."
It's not an exact copy.
That work is no longer identical to the many others that others have painted. It's mine and has my particular touch, whether it's a distracted touch, a deliberate one, or a clumsy touch. Because, going back to the example of the furniture, if you allow such freedoms when assembling it, the result may well be a disaster: a crooked door, a drawer that doesn't close properly, an uneven piece of furniture, etc.
In paint by numbers, deviating from the script is personalizing a work, making it yours. For someone who lacks creativity like me, it's a boost to self-esteem that encourages me to keep painting because I don't feel like I'm copying, rather I'm using a canvas with pre-drawn lines as the basis for my project.
For now, I'm cautious. I choose canvases with abstract figures and large painting areas that suit my purpose (at Canvas by Numbers, there's a good variety), and I allow myself to take liberties, like changing the pre-defined colors, mixing them, turning red into orange, pink into blue, and deviating from the marked lines to make it less perfect, giving it a "José María touch."
Days later, once it's finished, I add some unplanned brushstrokes, and when I step back to look at my work from a distance, I feel as much of an artist as the greatest of artists. I know it's pretentious of me, but what matters isn't the fate of my paintings being an Art Gallery; what really matters is how I feel about the work I've done, the pride that overwhelms me at that moment.
The statement that paint by numbers is a gratifying activity that "doesn't require large spaces, big investments, or special artistic skills" is very accurate. I am the example.
José María G. (Zaragoza)
At Canvas by Numbers, we have a wide catalog of paint by numbers in the Abstract and Colorful section. If you're a lover of colors, the exclusive works by Oscar Bluemner or August Macke are for you. Take a look, enjoy, and share your experience with us!