Life lessons from paint by numbers

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For the past few months I’ve been dying to try paint by numbers. I even bought Benjamin’s second cousin a set for her birthday, an easy set for younger children. I couldn’t find the right portrait just yet.

On social media I came across Country Living’s monthly paint by numbers set and a quick text to Jackie asking if she’d want to do one with me while she was in town. We both picked the March kit, a gal walking her bicycle. The site used to limit buying than one kit from the same month for some ridiculous reason so after some complaining, they changed it so – you’re welcome. Seemed crazy if you wanted to do it as a group project!

It’s pricer than most kits – $35 plus additional shipping but this art comes on a self-standing 1″ board which I liked. When we got it, I immediately sent a photo text to Jackie to show her we had a challenge up our sleeves. This called for wine – for her anyway. I can’t drink – Asian glow/allergy.

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Yes, it is as horrible as it looks. If you thought this was a good past time for elder people, think again. My hands are steady and I was getting the antsy shake it out breaks. I googled the best way to tackle a paint by numbers project – one site said paint from darkest to lightest. I tried it, then I got antsy and moved to painting the bigger spots so I could go over the smaller ones and ignore the numbers. I mean they were minuscule dots, my friends. And I, do not have patience.

I was done early by the second night. Jackie, she followed the rules. I clearly didn’t.

In fact, I finished hers because when she left on Sunday night she didn’t have the time. That’s OK, because she’ll never know what colors were SUPPOSED to be there. Hahahaa.

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I decided to not do any of red on the back of the bike – I thought it was distracting and looked too much like a mountain bike instead of a cruiser. I added a few flowers along the dirt road, and oh, I don’t know, probably missed a lot of spots but whatever.

Jackie said it was a reflection on my life and creativity – a good thing.

I don’t follow every rule or suggestion, I skip to the fun stuff, I improvise, problem solve, figure out what details can be ignored and what can’t, I color outside the lines, and I change it to the way I think looks better. I also know when it’s good, it’s good. Get it done right the first time so you don’t have to over edit or fix anything. I’m also going to tell you that I went in thinking if I hated it, didn’t see it going anywhere, I would quit and be OK with it. Some things if you just can’t see the end of the road or find it to be too much effort and not enough reward, it’s OK to walk away – just don’t make it a habit as my gf Ricki added.

I’m not sure if I’ll do another paint by numbers. I didn’t like it enough to buy another one, but didn’t hate it enough to completely write it off. Only time will tell – and Jackie will never know what spots I accidentally covered, shhhh, still looks great right?

Have you ever done a paint by numbers?

Trying to decide what to write to make myself sound interesting.


  • Carissa

    I really like how yours turned out and how it looks like you!
    I’ve never done paint by numbers but it looks intense.

    You always do such fun things with your girlfriends.
    Reading about it makes me miss my sisters and friends back home.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      You are so sweet – I think activities can be fun with a buddy who is willing to learn and try new things :) Do you have any friends in town that maybe you can meet at events like this? I see girls go by themselves a lot. I guess I’ll be doing another one because sent me a gift card for another ;) haha!

  • Susan

    I really love your blog and so I’ve started to read along. Love all of the inspiration! My little ones do paint by numbers… I never thought to do this as a group (grown up) project. I love this! I think this will be our next sister project.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Susan, thanks for reading :) The paint by numbers I did was DEFINITELY for adults – let me know how it goes for you!

  • Kate

    I am working on CL July/Aug American flag on the barn and I am enjoying it. I do need a craft magnifying glass-with lamp-for the finer details. I am not a painter but am pretending with this kit. I could never complete it in two days! I have been working on it over the course of the summer and find it a fun project. I have not cared for the other choices offered and am waiting for Nov to be issued. Hopefully it will have sunflowers.
    It is teaching me to let go a little and not care so much about the lines (give or take)…certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but I like it and would do it again.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Kate, I love that! I was thinking about trying the American Flag too – I ended up trying the tire swing next because the colors were so pretty. I love what it’s taught you – that’s probably the best part – and the fact that you want to do another one (and I did too!)! :)

  • Holly

    I found your blog by googling “best way to complete paint by numbers.” I received the April 2016 design, baby chicks in an apron, and am super intimidated by all the little spaces! Guess I’ll have to take my time and just enjoy the process. My 14-year-old daughter wants one now, so off to Hobby Lobby with a coupon!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Holly, that is so funny! I hope you are enjoying the process. I would suggest going the big spaces first and not worrying about overlapping on the smaller ones. I looked at the baby chicks on an apron design and boy that looks tough! I’m sure you can do it though! :) Good luck!

  • Amanda

    Nice analogy! If you decide to take on another kit – because they can be very relaxing – give ours a try. My husband and I launched a business last year designing and making modern paint by number kits. You can find them on our website,

  • Susan

    Hi I have done many paint by numbers and always put a little of my own twist in them. I have given many away that the receivers have fallen in love with and even have been offered money for them and orders from others that have seen them. One friend had made a barnwood frame for it and it hangs above their fireplace. It’s very relaxing for me and they do end up being something Im proud of and feel I have accomplished something. Sometimes it takes me months to finish one as I never rush it. I now am taking some painting classes to learn more technique hoping to someday be as good at doing my own paintings. Everyone should at least try one.

  • Jeff

    my first questions would be do the pbn’s need to be seeled with gesso and if yes extra teeth or just reg??? and is varnishing a painting the same as glazing I am soo new at this , but I got the easle and the stretching tool and plenty of brushes just need these questioned answerd to get going propper thanks are the diy pbns you find on ebay ok or are not? a lot of china made on there and on a you tube I heard only the american mades are worth the time??? thanks and I will await an answer sorry so many right out of the gate I am ready like sponge bob!


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